The holidays are officially here and that means it is time to turn up the holiday music, string up the lights and join in on all of the cheery festivities. And nothing brings the community together for the holidays like the annual Festival of Lights weekend in Montesano. The festival is Friday, December 7 through Sunday, December 9. And there is a new addition this year with a light show, Jingle Lights, that was previously done in Central Park.

Montesano Festival of Lights parade downtown
Thousands of people come out each year to enjoy the show at the annual Festival of Lights parade. This year it is at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 8. Photo courtesy: Montesano Festival of Lights

“The city of Montesano purchased the equipment and so they’re running that show at Fleet Park,” says Leslie Goings, Festival of Lights parade chair. “Each weekend, there’s a different non-profit. So, they’re asking for donations and then that non-profit for that weekend will get the proceeds.”

For the festival there is usually a theme each year and the theme this year is simply “lights” to celebrate the debut of Jingle Lights and to shine bright through the parade. “We decided not to do a sub-theme, we’re sticking with the Festival of Lights,” Goings says. “Part of it is it has been so specific over the last couple of years that we wanted to let some of the participants reuse some of their decorations, but also with Jingle Lights coming this year we really wanted to focus on lights.”

Montesano becomes a magical place this time of year and the festival is a time where everyone works together to spread the spirit of the holidays. There is a committee with several people that work hard to put on a smooth weekend, but countless people participate in many ways from hosting events to decorating.

“It’s pretty much a city-wide effort,” Goings says. “The city and public works department, they put up the garland around town, and each business is responsible for doing their own decorating. And then we have just a lot of support, whether it’s monetary sponsorships or donations. Everyone just kind of works together.”

With over 13,000 people in attendance to the parade last year, this year is looking to be an even bigger parade with new entries. “We have quite a few new participants this year that I’m excited about,” Goings says, adding that places like the Extreme Fun Center and Home Depot will be participating in addition to the traditional entries that

Montesano Festival of Lights parade log trucks
There are usually between 50-70 different groups participating in the parade, all of them bringing their own special flair to the show. Photo courtesy: Montesano Festival of Lights

always have fantastic displays.

Check out all of the fun happenings over the weekend in addition to the parade:

Friday, December 7

  • 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. An art show featuring Ken Hurley at the showroom at Whitney’s Chevrolet
  • 6:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m., and 8:00 p.m., Jingle Lights at Fleet Park
  • 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. live music at the Montesano High School Commons featuring Ken Albert, Gladys Whitney, and Christine Hill. Free admission
  • 9:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. For those 21 and older, check out the Ugly Sweater Dance Party with prizes at Charlie’s Sports Bar

Saturday, December 8 

  • 7:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Pancake breakfast with Santa and an auction at the Montesano Community Center
  • 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Check out Santa’s Sweet Shoppe with treats for all at the Montesano Community Center
  • 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. An art show featuring Ken Hurley at the showroom at Whitney’s Chevrolet
  • 9:00 a.m. participate in the Jingle Bell Jog, a two-mile fun walk or 12k race. Pre-register at Montesano High School, $20 adult/$15 child. Contact: April Pocklington 360-249-4041.
  • 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. See over 60 vendors at the craft fair hosted at the Montesano Junior High gym
  • 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Tour the Grays Harbor Historical Courthouse with tours from local commissioners
  • 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Tours of the Chehalis Valley Historical Museum
  • 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Live performances at the courthouse by Olympic Flute Choir (1:00 p.m.) and Montesano School Choir (2:00 p.m.)
  • 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. See the children’s program at H. Abel Memorial Timberland Library
  • 3:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Enjoy hot beverages, cookie decorating and photos with Santa (kids and pets) with The Odd Fellows at Friendship Hall (formerly Marcy Center)
  • 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Meet at the Umpqua Bank for a scavenger hunt
  • Montesano Festival of Lights Bayview parade
    The parade participants each year always come up with new and creative ways to display their Christmas lights. Photo courtesy: Montesano Festival of Lights

    4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Chowder feed by the Montesano Fire Department Volunteer Association, donations appreciated

  • 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. For $3 per person, enjoy homemade chili and cornbread at the Montesano Moose Lodge
  • 4:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Head to the Montesano Fitness Center studio for a cocoa factory activity with all donations going to Connections
  • 4:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Free Sweet Treats and Crafts for Kids at Our Community Credit Union inside PickRite with a raffle
  • 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Open House at the W.H. Abel Memorial Library with music and snacks
  • 6:00 p.m. Grand Parade with Grand Marshal, Sue Bucy
  • 7:00 p.m. Yule Log lighting on Pioneer Street
  • 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Live nativity at Montesano Presbyterian Church
  • 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Jingle Lights at Fleet Park
  • 7:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. $10/child at Kids Rock ‘n Bowl at Bulldog Lanes with hot cocoa bar included
  • 7:30 p.m. Dukes of Swing at Montesano Moose Lodge, free to members, $3 for non-members
  • 9:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. Live music by Feelin’ Good at Gepetto’s
  • 9:00 p.m. Live music by Ready or Not at Charlie’s Sports Bar
Montesano Festival of Lights Yule Log crowd
Warm up by the Yule Log fire at 7:00 p.m. on Pioneer Street on Saturday, December 8. Photo courtesy: Montesano Festival of Lights

Sunday, December 9

  • 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. An art show featuring Ken Hurley at the showroom at Whitney’s Chevrolet
  • 10:00 a.m. Cribbage tournament at Bulldog Lanes, $5 entry, cash prizes
  • 1:00 p.m. Yule Log hunt and Christmas sing-a-long at Schafer State Park
  • 7:00 p.m. Christmas Cantata at the United Methodist Church

For more information on the festival, visit the Montesano Chamber of Commerce website or the Festival of Lights Facebook page. For a complete schedule of Jingle Lights shows, visit the Jingle Lights event page.



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