As the days grow shorter, darker and quietly fade away from the brilliance of the fall, nightfall begins to sparkle throughout the Tri-Cities. Streets are adorned in holiday color and cheer, neighborhoods are draped in lush and glittering adornments and the entire community shimmers with the spirit of the season. Christmas in the Tri-Cities is as picturesque as tipping a snow globe and becoming a part of the scene. It’s a storybook favorite that becomes destiny and as real as the luminous star atop every tree. The Tri-Cities, at Christmas, becomes a holiday hometown to dream about, even as the snow globe’s flurries have settled into stillness.
Carriage Rides and Campfires
Nestled amidst the Heart of Washington Wine Country, within the sprawling vineyards and rolling hills of the Red Mountain American Viticultural Area (AVA), resides Red Mountain Trails, the beloved and highly acclaimed business owned and operated by Jeff and Teresa Owen. Teresa, a native to the mountain, grew up exploring the land that is now covered in award-winning, fruitful vines and is a true expert in anything and everything Red Mountain. Offering guided, horseback trail rides with wine-tasting stops at the various tasting rooms that dot the colorful landscape. Teresa will expertly (and often comically) weave in the history, stories and fascinating tales of the mountain no matter the route you choose to explore together.
Starting the Friday after Thanksgiving, and available every Friday and Saturday through December 14 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., Red Mountain Trails transforms into a cozy and delightful must-stop for any holiday checklist. The barn and horses are adorned in the festivities of the season and horse-drawn Christmas carriage rides through the frosty farms and vineyards are offered. Wild-cut Christmas trees are available to purchase, the campfire crackles and warms, and in true wine country fashion, wine tasting is enthusiastically encouraged. Spending a holiday afternoon with Red Mountain Trails is guaranteed to be authentic, charming and warm…no matter what the thermostat says.
Cruising and Caroling
Since coasting onto the scene in 2016, the M/Y Chrysalis luxury yacht has offered unique and original cruises along the powerful and historic Columbia River to the residents and visitors of the Tri-Cities. Water2Wine Cruises is offering an array of holiday-inspired themed events this season and those who embark, will discover why the Chrysalis is one of the most memorable and entertaining attractions in the area.
The seasonal options include a two-hour lunch cruise in a merry and joyful atmosphere. Face painting and classic holiday music add to the holiday cheer and even Santa joins in on the merriment by bringing a special treat for each child. Wake up a little earlier and toast the wonders of the season with sparkling cider or chilled mimosa on the holiday brunch cruise. A holiday one-hour cruise is offered also and tickets include a variety of refreshments and a hot cocoa bar that will delight passengers of all ages. Sing along to classic Christmas tunes aboard the M/Y Chrysalis and create memories sure to last a lifetime. With seasonal dinner cruises and a Christmas Eve dinner cruise also available, there is an opportunity for everyone to enjoy themselves aboard the Chrysalis this December.
For over 50 years, Tri-Citians have decked the bows of their vessels in Christmas spirit and sparkling lights to participate in the Lighted Boat Parade. The Clover Island Yacht Club manages this revered community event, and each year eager parade goers flock to the northern and southern shores of the Columbia River for two wintry nights in December, to marvel in wonderment at the gleaming and radiant crafts before them. Embarking from Clover Island in Kennewick at 6 p.m., the boats make a leisurely trip along the glittering watercourse and turn around at Howard Amon Park in Richland.
Festival of Lights
The community embraces this event in many ways, including a Water2Wine cruise in conjunction with the parade, riverfront hotel specials and family-friendly community events such as the Festival of Lights in Richland’s John Dam Plaza. The kick-off for the festival coincides with the first night of the Lighted Boat Parade, Friday, December 6 and the good cheer spills into Howard Amon Park and Lee Boulevard. A countdown to the reveal of the dancing light display, that will jive along merrily to a soundtrack of holiday favorites, will officially set the festival into motion. Hot cocoa, musical entertainment, warm kettle corn, train rides and even Santa and his reindeer round out this hometown holiday experience. Each weekend until Christmas, the Plaza will be afire with the thrilling sounds of holiday cheer and celebration as a community joins together in the spirit of the season.
So, whether it’s a horse-drawn carriage ride against a brilliant wine-soaked backdrop, a jolly toast atop the swirling, black Columbia River or amidst the glittering lights of a emblazoned community square, the Tri-Cities is flush with the magic and merriment of the season. The Tri-Cities is truly the hushed and tranquil epitome of a storybook, hometown holiday and the shimmering backdrop of a life-sized magical scene.