Things To Do in Leavenworth During the Holidays

‘Tis the season!

We know that many of you grew up in the Northwest and have visited Leavenworth throughout your life. Some of you come stay with us every holiday season! Others are still waiting for their chance to enjoy the holidays at Run of the River, and experience one of the world’s top Christmas towns!

Whether you are a first timer or an old pro when it comes to celebrating the season in Leavenworth, we'd love to share some of our favorite things! Perhaps you have some cherished Leavenworth traditions, or maybe you’ve got your eye on something new to try this year. Hopefully we can introduce all of you to things around Leavenworth and at the inn that will make your holidays brighter! We hope something piques your interest, becomes a new tradition, or gives you the reason you’ve been looking for to make it to the inn this holiday season!

Tree Lighting Festival & Kristkindlmarkt

To kick off the season, the city of Leavenworth hosts a beautiful holiday market and tree lighting ceremony the weekend after Thanksgiving (November 24, 25, & 26, 2017). The market features lots of local artisans and some tasty treats. The inaugural tree lighting weekend of each year is filled with joy and wonder: there is a parade featuring paper lanterns handmade by kiddos, carols and instrumentals, and of course St. Nick himself makes a visit!

If you can’t make it that weekend, the town still hosts a holiday event every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night for the first three weekends in December! Note: tree lightings only take place on Saturdays & Sundays, but the town is all lit up every night of the week. There will be a gluhwein (hot spiced wine) tent, holiday festivities, and the jolly man himself with his crew!

Pro tip: Sundays are the least crowded day of the weekend. Over the past few years, Leavenworth’s holiday visitors have increased dramatically. Even better, come midweek to enjoy all the splendor without as many crowds! If you can’t make it before year’s end, you can still see the town all lit up until February!

Downtown Christmas Lights Leavenworth Washington

Check out the detailed schedule on the Leavenworth Chamber website.


Are you looking to take your holidays up a notch?! We suggest a picturesque snowmobile ride with the amazing people over at Mountain Springs Lodge. They offer rides that vary in length from one to four hours (our personal favorite is the 2-hour ride, “Grandpa’s Rocker”…the perfect amount of time to fulfill your need for speed and get you back home in time to warm up!). The mountain views are incredible, the machines are top notch, and the guides are a blast! They provide all the gear, nature provides the scenery, and you make it an experience to remember!

Pro tip: Bring a GoPro if you’ve got one! You won’t be able to take pictures during the ride itself (though you will stop for a few great photo ops), but a GoPro strapped to your chest or helmet is a great way to capture your adventure! We once saw mountain lion tracks all the way up a hill on a ride and wish we would have had a GoPro to show our friends back home!

Sleigh Ride/Carriage Ride

Looking for something a bit more relaxing? The folks over at Mountain Springs Lodge also offer beautiful horse-drawn sleigh rides. One of their ride options even includes a dinner in the lodge afterward! There is also a horse-drawn carriage that circles around downtown Leavenworth; perfect for a romantic ride through the lit-up village with hot cocoa in hand.

Pro tip: Bundle up! “Dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh” can get pretty chilly! Grab a scarf, hat, and gloves, in addition to a warm jacket! And of course, you can snuggle up to your sweetie for extra warmth!

Credit: Mountain Springs Lodge

Enjoy Your Personal Christmas Tree

Did you know that each of our signature rooms showcases its own personal Christmas tree?! They are decorated, lit, and even have a few presents beneath them (because what’s a tree without presents?! But we'll admit…they are just empty boxes.) Grab one of our Christmas movies from the Great Room, snuggle up, and enjoy the holiday glow!

Pro tip: Each tree is equipped with a little tap button on the floor that you can step on to turn the lights on and off. No need to dig around for the outlet!

Holiday Concerts

Let’s throw a bit of artistic flare into your holiday season! A few miles up the road from ROTR at the beautiful Snowy Owl Theater, there are various performances throughout the month hosted by Icicle Creek Center for the Arts. Drop in for a harmonious Handbell Concert (Dec. 1), the exciting and nostalgic Family Christmas Special featuring all sorts of talented performers (Dec. 8 & 9), or the lively and festive Magical Strings Celtic Yuletide (Dec. 15 & 16). We had the chance to attend a few of these shows last year and count it as one of our favorite holiday memories!

Pro tip: They serve gluhwein, cider, tea, coffee, and treats in the lobby. You can even bring them into the theater! Enjoy!

Snowshoe Around the Property

Did you know that ROTR is equipped with enough snowshoes for every guest at the inn to borrow a pair?! If you’re looking for a quick adventure and want to try something new, strap on a pair of snowshoes and go a’wandering. Our snowshoes hang on the front left-side of the inn. There is no official rental or checkout process; as we like to say, “grab a right and a left and get to it!” For most folks, a quick jaunt around the property is plenty of time since it can be more tiring than it looks! But you are welcome to take them off-property and we would be happy to suggest some trails where snowshoeing is permitted.

Pro tip: The bigger the surface area of the shoe, the less you will sink! Pick something you can manage, but make sure it is big enough to keep you atop the snow.

Leavenworth Run of the River Wedding Chapel in Snow

Visit the Reindeer Farm

Yes, you heard that right! There is a reindeer farm in Leavenworth! You can go visit these festive friends and take a tour on the family-owned farm, enjoy seasonal treats, pose for a picture on Santa’s sleigh, and of course, get up close and personal with the official mascot of the holidays!

Pro tip: Don’t look for the one with the shiny red nose. He’s busy at the North Pole, of course!

Leavenworth Reindeer Farm

Credit: our friends at Leavenworth Reindeer Farm

Cozy Up with a Hot Drink by the Fire & Look for Winter Wildlife

One of the best parts about staying at Run of the River is that even though adventure and entertainment are nearby, you can enjoy just as much peace, joy, and beauty from the comfort of your room. Each one of our signature rooms has its own fireplace that is up and running throughout the fall and winter seasons. We also love to put out special holiday mugs for you to enjoy our selection of coffee, cider, tea, and cocoa! Wrap one hand around your mug while you sit by the fireplace, but be sure to hold your binoculars in the other (each suite has their own pair nestled in a basket near the fireplace)! All sorts of fun winter critters appear out in the refuge. Did you know that wood ducks perch in trees?! You can see these beauties right outside your window. And don’t forget to look low! We have river otter that play near the snowy banks of the high-water channel. They are a rare sight in Leavenworth, but we are lucky that they enjoy staying at Run of the River as much as our guests do!

Credit: Kate Spencer Photography

Pro tip: Our homemade snack goes out every afternoon by 3 pm in the Great Room. It’s the perfect time in the afternoon to take a rest and enjoy some goodies while catching the last bit of sunlight that creates a beautiful glow across the refuge before falling behind the mountains. Looking for an extra special treat? Check out our baskets!

We hope that your holiday visit to Run of the River is one to remember. We strive to make every stay exceptional and are happy to help you create the trip of your dreams! Give us a call for recommendations or to book any tickets/activities in town! Wishing you and yours the happiest holiday season. We hope we get to experience it together!

What is your favorite thing to do at Run of the River or in Leavenworth during the holiday season?! Share it with us and our guests in the comments below! Have you checked any of these off your list?

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