Three ways to beat the lighting festival crowds in Leavenworth this December

A crowd estimated at over 15,000 people gathers on Front Street in Leavenworth for the first Christmas Lighting Festival weekend of 2016.

LEAVENWORTH — The endless line of tour buses bogging down traffic and chauffeuring thousands of passengers from all over the state to experience Leavenworth’s Village of Lights won’t happen this December — or at least that’s the goal — after the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce announced they are canceling this year’s Christmas Lighting Festival.

The half million-plus lights will still shine throughout the winter, but all public ceremonies are on hold.

“To maximize the safety of both our residents and our visitors to Leavenworth, the Chamber Board of Directors are taking a series of carefully considered measures that will decrease density in the downtown core while still delivering the magical holiday experience that only Leavenworth can provide,” said Troy Campbell, executive director of the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce.

Campbell said the primary difference between this year and prior years will be the absence of the traditional weekend lighting ceremony and countdown at 4:45 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Instead, the village will remain lit for the entire holiday season, beginning on Thanksgiving and continuing through Valentine’s Day. The lights will also be shared virtually.

“Our hope is that this will encourage visitors to enjoy Leavenworth and the Village of Lights display online as opposed to drawing large groups together around festival events on those few weekends,” Campbell said.

Also put on hold are strolling carolers, chestnut roasting, live entertainment at the gazebo, the traditional Gluhwein tent and the yearly children’s Cookie Crawl.

“Leavenworth has been hosting this unique festival for more than 50 years, but like everyone else, the Leavenworth Chamber is adapting to the current COVID-19 circumstances,” Campbell said.