Lighting the Holidays in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Holiday lights in Coeur d'AleneWhen you think of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, what comes to mind? The lake? Potatoes? (FYI: nobody grows potatoes in northern Idaho!)

Coeur d'Alene Resort lights every tree for ChristmasHow about Christmas?

Every year, on the day after Thanksgiving, this little city puts on a parade and holiday light show that rivals any big city offering. This year marked the 26th anniversary of the event, and it just keeps getting better. USA Today took notice a few years ago, ranking the ceremony #4 in the country for Best Public Lights Display. Not too shabby!

Fireworks at the Coeur d'Alene ResortThe evening starts with a lighted parade that makes its way through the picturesque downtown streets. As Santa rides past at the end, bystanders fall in behind him, following his lit up fire truck to the Coeur d’Alene Resort. Dickens-style carolers sing Christmas favorites, welcoming the thousands of people crowding into the park in front of the resort.

Because this has been happening for a quarter century, many people know to bring candles or get them there. As the strains of “Silent Night” begin, the candles get lit and everyone sings together. It’s quite moving to be there, shoulder to shoulder with what feels like the entire population of North Idaho, thousands of candles lighting up the night, voices joining on this familiar melody.

And then the fireworks begin. I totally love fireworks. LOVE! They blast over the lake, lighting up the sky for an awesome show. To top it off, as the last rockets fade, 1.5 million lights come to life on trees and buildings around the area. It’s an incredible sight.

The entire celebration takes less than two hours, but if you want to go, you need to plan ahead. Parking fills up fast. Many people end up leaving their cars blocks away and walking to the parade route. The later you get there, the further you’ll probably have to walk. Restaurants fill up quickly once the event is over, so if you don’t have a reservation, you might be looking at a 45-minute wait.

Coeur d'Alene lights up for ChristmasFor a completely different perspective, the resort offers a cruise that lets you watch the fireworks from the water. But while the parade and lighting ceremony are free, the cruise is not 🙂

Fun Fact: Coeur d’Alene set the world record for having the tallest living Christmas tree back in 2009.

And one last thing before I forget to mention it, I was invited to share a guest post last week. If you’re interested, you can read 7 Intangible Benefits Your Child can Gain From Traveling with You over on the Blysee site.

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  • Rated by Hanna 1 December 2017 at 11:22 am

    This celebration looks so magical Sherrie! Haha and I’ll admit I didn’t know people in N. Idaho did not grow potatoes. My ignorant mind imagined the whole state as a giant potato jk! I love that they have fireworks and so many displays. Going to Newport to see some mansions decorated for the holidays this weekend.

    How much was the cruise? Did you think it was worth it?

    • Sherrie 1 December 2017 at 7:08 pm

      Ha! I used to think Idaho was nothing but potatoes, too 🙂

      I love this celebration, but I’m not sure that the cruise would be worth it. Several years ago, I took my kids on one of the cruises, the Journey to the North Pole. You ride in a boat to the other side of the lake where they have more lights and displays and you get cookies and hot cocoa on the boat. Our faces were frozen when we got off and there were so many people crowded on the boat that it was hard to see much. Also, I thought we’d be able to get out and walk around the displays on the other side, but we had to stay on the boat the whole time. So for us, it was not worth the money.

      But this is different from the cruise that takes you in the harbor during the tree lighting. I would definitely make sure to check the weather and not go when it’s super cold! Hope you have fun looking at the decorated mansions — that sounds fun!

  • Esther 2 December 2017 at 12:46 am

    This looks absolutely lovely. There are a lot of light festivals going on in The Netherlands at the moment and I love them. I always have a little trouble with having so little day light in winter (in The Netherlands the sun comes up at 8.30 am and goes doen at 4pm this time of year), but having some light festivals do make up for this a little!

    • Sherrie 2 December 2017 at 11:10 pm

      North Idaho has those short days too. Amazing how much energy the sun gives you! But you’re right, the light festivals do help make up for it!

  • xyuandbeyond 2 December 2017 at 1:26 am

    What a lovely way to celebrate Xmas and what a fantastic idea to have a cruise, how beautiful to be on the water with fireworks and Xmas lights. Here in Ireland there is a distinct lack of neighbourhoods with lights and displays which I have to say I do miss. but you just don’t see the selection of lights and blow up Santas in the stores which is probably a good thing in one way, but in another I do love touring the dark nights and seeing all the lit up houses.

    • Sherrie 2 December 2017 at 11:11 pm

      Yes, I could probably do without the blow up Santas 🙂 but I do love the Christmas lights. They just seem to make everything more festive.

  • damecacao 6 December 2017 at 11:11 pm

    This looks beautiful! And you’re absolutely right– I was thinking of potatoes, though I’ve never been to Idaho. I’m glad there are still beautiful things for me to discover in my own country. 🙂

  • sandigs 6 December 2017 at 11:18 pm

    Oh, absolutely stunning pictures! I always like the winter time when people start hanging up beautiful (elegant) christmas lights 😀

  • Sarah 7 December 2017 at 3:38 am

    What a magical sounding night. It would be so special to see all the candles light up surrounded by singing!

  • Liza Williams 7 December 2017 at 4:45 am

    What a way to get into the festive season especially for people who love Christmas! We don’t have thanks giving which is such a pity because it is a nice build up to Xmas. The display looks amazing with all those lights… love it, great pics!

  • Ioanna 7 December 2017 at 8:25 am

    I love it when small towns do something spectacular! I’ve never heard about this place before (I’m from Europe) but would love to see it, now! Thank you for sharing it, Sherrie 🙂

  • l3walker 7 December 2017 at 12:18 pm

    I love reading Christmas posts it really gets me in the holiday spirit. Those fireworks look amazing and the cruise sounds really enjoyable. Thanks for sharing!

  • suzystories 7 December 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Wow what a cool experience! Light shows are just so magical, and with the time of year and candles I imagine it to be just what you need to get in a festive spirit! Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos of this fab occasion!

  • Anna 7 December 2017 at 10:51 pm

    I never knew anything about Idaho before this – not even the potatoes! Christmas in Idaho looks like a wonderful time of year to be there, and the parade sounds amazing! Have you ever done the cruise?

    • Sherrie 8 December 2017 at 6:25 pm

      I went on a different cruise to see the lights on the other end of the lake and I have to say it is COLD on the lake in the winter! If you opt for a cruise, bundle up extra warm!

  • vdaltonbanks 7 December 2017 at 11:50 pm

    These Christmas lights are so beautiful!! I love that every year there is a big event bringing everyone together.

  • Diana 8 December 2017 at 9:12 am

    What a great spirit you have there! Fireworks and light decorations seem amazing! I guess in reality they are even more magical!

  • janine 11 December 2017 at 3:35 pm

    This is a celebration of the season that I would totally do. I love everything Christmas and this looks magical. I hope to get to Idaho at some point! See you at Fly Away Friday this week!


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