Holidays San Juan Islands Style

In the San Juan Islands, holiday celebrations are a blend of small town sensibility harkening back to a simpler time with the creative energy of communities rich with tradition and talent. It’s an ideal time to leave the malls and crowds behind and jump on the boat and experience the holidays San Juan Island style.

From mid-November until the first of the year, visitors have the opportunity to take part in seaside village lightings, sing along to carols, and sip hot cocoa. You can also shop for island arts, crafts, and foods at holiday bazaars, art galleries, boutiques, and bookstores. Watch the colorful Christmas ships and excited children as Santa steps off the boat. Attend a holiday concert and enjoy the unique island holidays traditions.

Holidays San Juan Islands Style

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Roche Harbor

At dusk walk the grounds and docks to see the resort’s buildings and boats decorated with holiday lights. In the gardens, a six-foot-tall snowman glows, and motion detectors bring to life otherwise motionless small dancing snowmen singing “Jingle Bells.”

In the morning, the docks may be covered with a frost that crunches with every step. If you look up on the hill above the marina, is the majestic and historic Our Lady of Good Voyage Chapel, whose bells ring out Christmas carols over the harbor.

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Holidays San Juan Islands Style

Friday Harbor

Spend the day visiting the many gift shops, art galleries featuring local artists and native art, clothing, books and wine shops that are spread throughout this charming seaside community.

At dusk, Spring Street, Friday Harbor’s main though fare comes alive with twinkling lights, snowflakes hanging from streetlights, colored lights in the windows and a larger than life NOEL sign on the roof. The only thing missing from the holiday scene is snow, which is a long shot in the San Juan Islands where the December temperatures average 46 degrees.

On your way back down the docks, take some time to view the many boats decorated with Christmas lights. Their reflection in the water enhances the enchantment.

There is no shortage of Friday Harbor establishments ringing in the New Year with celebrations such as the American Legion Hall, Herb’s Tavern, Rumor Mill and The Blue Water Bar & Grill to name a few.

Calendar of Events:

Dec.   2          Island Lights Festival

Dec.   3          Holiday Festival 2016

Dec.   3 & 4    Brickworks Old-Fashion Christmas Market

Dec. 9            Critter’s Christmas

Dec. 10 & 11  San Juan Singers Christmas Reflections

Dec. 17          Lighted Boat Parade & Santa’s Arrival

Dec. 17 & 18  Salish Sea Ballet’s Nutcracker Tea Party

For more information visit the San Juan Islands.

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Holidays San Juan Islands Style

Fisherman Bay

The village of Fisherman Bay, Lopez Island, also gets into the holidays San Juan Islands style with the village lit up with Christmas lights and its celebratory festivities. Down in the bay, the Lopez Islander Resort is also decorated in the holiday spirit. They host a New Year’s Eve dinner and party, with live music. Reservations are required for this popular island event.

Calendar of events:

Dec. 1          Holiday Group Show, Chimera Gallery

Dec. 2          Giving Day

Dec.3           Craft Fair at Lopez Islander Resort and Holiday Art and Craft Sale at Port Stanley School

Dec. 31        New Year’s Eve at Lopez Islander Resort

For more information visit the Lopez Island Chamber of Commerce or Lopez Islander Resort.

Rosario Resort & Spa Holiday Decorations

Photo courtesy of Rosario Resort & Spa.

Rosario Resort and Spa

The Rosario Resort & Spa on Orcas Island has a full calendar of events for the holiday season:

Dec. 1 – Dec. 31      6th Annual Festival of Trees

Dec. 24 & 25            Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Dinner

Dec. 31                    New Year’s Eve Gala Seafood Buffet

Jan.1                        New Year’s Day Brunch

For more information visit Rosario Resort & Spa.

Deer Harbor Marina

Dec. 3     Santa’s Ship at Deer Harbor Marina


The holiday season is a wonderful time in the islands. For a list of holiday activities check-out the official San Juan Islands site.

~ Deane Hislop

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