It’s that time of year again! Sweaters and mittens come out of retirement, coffee orders go from iced to piping hot and Jingle Bell Rock starts making its way into Spotify rotations. Before you know it, it’ll be time for Saint Nick himself to come to town!

If you’re like us, you’re too eager to wait ‘til December 25th to celebrate the spirit of the season. Enter: Leavenworth, the ultra-charming Bavarian mountain town that takes Christmastime seriously. From sleigh rides and mulled wine to twinkling lights as far as the eye can see, this town more than earns the title of “winter wonderland.” Ready to plan your visit? Here are 15 things to do in Leavenworth this Christmas season!

 1. See the Town Sparkle at The Christmas Lighting Ceremony

The entire town glows come sundown at the Leavenworth Christmas Lighting Ceremony!

As dusk begins to settle over this holiday haven, follow the melodic sounds of bellowing alphorns to Leavenworth’s Town Square. It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for – The Christmas Lighting Ceremony!

Gather around the square’s adorable snowcapped gazebo with fellow revelers for the enchanting moment when the entire town comes to life with a blaze of more than half a million glittering lights. Stick around to round out the evening’s merriment with some live musical performances.

2. Take to the Snow in Front Street Park

Front Street Park’s sloping hillside becomes sledding HQ as soon as the town is treated to a bit of snow.

As soon as you reach the center of town, it’s readily apparent that you’ve arrived in sledding Mecca. Front Street Park’s expanse of hilly lawns offer the perfect environment for youngsters (or even just the young at heart!) to grab a tube or a saucer and glide down the gentle slopes. Plus, this wintertime fave takes on an extra bit of magic when done under a kaleidoscope of sparkling holiday lights!

3. Warm Up with Some German Engelwein

Warm your bones with a steaming glass of spiced German Engelwein in Baroness Cellars’ cozy tasting room. Credit: Baroness Cellars

When the weather outside is feeling a bit frightful, a warm mug of spiced German Engelwein will start to sound pretty delightful! Descend into Baroness Cellarsseriously cozy tasting room and thaw out for a moment as you breathe in the scent of mulling spices and the hum of conversations around you. Want to take some home with you? No need to lug around a cumbersome glass bottle, Baroness offers lightweight to go pouches of the aromatic wine!

4. Complete Your ‘Fit at the Hat Shop

Find something fun to warm your noggin at The Hat Shop! Credit: Nick Bentley

Forgot to don your favorite beanie for the day? Pop into the town’s beloved Hat Shop to find cozy chapeau or a festive fascinator to top off your ensemble. Keep it classic with a velvety red Santa hat or go all out with a full polar bear headpiece!

5. Go Dog Sledding

Relive your childhood dreams of meeting Balto with a dog sledding excursion. Credit: Lars Ley

Calling all dog lovers! Spend a day doing a little Iditarod cosplay with some furry friends at Northwest Dogsled Adventures. From their excitement at hook-up time to their determination on the snowy trails, you’ll discover how much these dogs truly love what they do. Don’t forget your camera (or GoPro!), between the spectacular winter landscapes to meet-and-greet time with the pups, you’ll want to be sure to document your arctic adventure.

 6. Ski Jump at Leavenworth Ski Hill

Your little ones are bound to love flying high at the Leavenworth Ski Hill Jump! Credit: Ski Leavenworth

Got an adventurous kiddo in tow? Help them hone their inner adventure junkie at the Leavenworth Ski Hill Jump. Beginners can work their way up to the 15-meter jump, or if your little one takes to it, coaches are available to help them make it all the way to the 27-meter ramp!

7. Christkindlmarkt 

Find a little something special for your loved ones at this year’s Christkindlmarkt. Credit: Nick Bentley

Whether you’re searching for a unique gift or want a keepsake to commemorate the trip, the town’s annual Christkindlmarkt is bound to have a one-of-a-kind trinket to fit the bill! Kick-off the holiday season (and sidestep the city crowds downtown ) with an array of artisan wares and handmade crafts. The Bavarian market also boasts authentic eats and even some family-friendly live entertainment – this German celebration may just become a family tradition for you and yours!

8. When in Leavenworth, Eat Like the Germans Do

Fuel up with some flavorsome German fare at Bären Haus. Credit: Nick Bentley

Work up an appetite exploring around downtown on foot? Fear not, there are plenty of enticing options where you can fuel up and thaw out!

Step through the brick facade of Bären Haus for hearty German classics such as stuffed cabbage rolls, crispy schnitzel or a beer-infused brat. Wash it all down with a selection from their impressive tap list – and why not shell out a few extra bucks for the hefty “Mug” size to feel like a true Bavarian?

For a more casual grab-and-go eatery, follow the scent of sizzling sausages down the road to München Haus. Choose from a pared-down list of kraut-topped options ranging from their award-winning beef franks to a roasty all-grain vegetarian wurst.

9. Snowshoes and Syrah

Explore the scenic backcountry by foot on a snowshoe excursion with Blue Sky Outfitters. Credit: Alec Moore

Spend an afternoon enjoying the best sights and sips that the region has to offer on a Showshoeing and Wine Tasting tour! Breathe in some invigorating mountain air as you crunch through fresh snow on a guided snowshoe expedition in the nearby wilderness. Afterward, take in a light lunch before embarking on a tour of some of the best wineries Leavenworth and Wenatchee have to offer!

10. Visit a Christmas-y Collection

Spend a few hours with Tchaikovsky’s muse at The Nutcracker Museum. Credit: The Nutcracker Museum

Duck into downtown’s Nutcracker Museum to marvel at shelf after shelf of the beloved holiday icon. Roam through two stories of intricate statuettes and get up close and personal with the world’s most extensive collection of nutcrackers. 

Nearly 7,000 porcelain, ivory metal and wooden figurines from more than 50 countries line the shelves. Keep an eye out for perennial faves like Donald Duck, Yoda and the whole cast of the Wizard of Oz. Don’t leave without snapping a selfie with Karl, the museum’s colossal German mascot.

11. Sing Along to a Holiday Song

Let the nostalgia wash over you as Leavenworth’s own Village Voices belt out classic Christmas tunes, pictured above at last year’s Christmas Concert. Credit: Rich Winkelmann

Hark, the Village Voices sing! Tap your toes along with the Bavarian town’s community choir as they belt out holiday favorites at the gazebo in Front Street Park. And keep an eye (and ear) out around town for the professionally-directed Voices, who are now in their 37th year of performing.

12. Enjoy Some Local Brews

Pick a pint or try out a flight of all the offerings at Icicle Brewing. Credit: Sébastien Launay

Need a little break from the brisk weather? Bundle into one of the town’s charming craft breweries for an excellent crisp ale!

With knotty pine as far as the eye can see, Icicle Brewing gives off major cabin vibes the moment you walk through the front door. Keep it light with a Crosscut Pilsner, flavored with local Noble hops. Or opt for something a little heartier with a chocolatey pint of Dark Persuasion.

Want a little nosh with your brew? Head over to Blewett Brewing Company for expertly crafted microbrews alongside a range of house-made pizzas. Dine on a classic, basil-topped margherita or go whole hog with a meaty Mr. Bacon. As for their beers, their constant experimentation means you’ll have to hop over to their Instagram for an up-to-date list of what’s on tap!

13. Hop Aboard a Sleigh 

Spend a storybook afternoon on a horse-drawn sleigh with Leavenworth Sleigh Rides. Credit: Jim Sorbie

Take a note from the ultimate Christmas classic and dash through the snow on an open sleigh, courtesy of Leavenworth Sleigh Rides! Soak in the spectacular snow-dusted scenery from beneath a cozy blanket, with the sound of jingling bells providing a festive soundtrack for the ride.

14. Choose Your New Favorite Ornament 

Find your new favorite Christmas ornament at local favorite Kris Kringl. Credit: Nick Bentley

Short of trekking up to the North Pole to visit Santa’s actual workshop, Leavenworth’s Kris Kringl Christmas store is the next best thing for seeking out some serious holiday cheer! Browse through row after row of unique Christmas décor, while Mr. Claus himself gazes down from his sleigh full of toys above you. Choose a festive new ornament to dangle from your tree when you get home, a lasting reminder of your visit to this winter wonderland!

 15. Grab a Sweet Treat

On a trip to Leavenworth, a visit to the Gingerbread Factory for one of their spiced confections is an absolute must! Credit: The Gingerbread Factory

Follow the intoxicating scent of cinnamon, nutmeg and, yes, ginger into the town’s cookie haven, the Gingerbread Factory! Munch on classic holiday treats made of the namesake spiced dough, or sample some of the other house-made confections like tart lemon squares and cinnamon roll bread pudding. Or fill up a box to go! We have a feeling you won’t regret stocking up.

From snow-covered peaks each way you turn to lights dangling from every rooftop in sight, this Bavarian mountain town is the perfect destination to ignite your holiday cheer. Whether you want to chill out and warm up with a mug of spiced wine or join the joyful kiddos in sledding down the hills at Front Street Park, we have a feeling this may become your whole family’s new favorite holiday tradition!


Feature image: Nick Bentley