Baby, it’s cold outside! Seattle knows just the thing to warm you up. Whether an indoor “snow” shower, a dazzling ballet performance, or a day trip to a cozy Bavarian village, there are plenty of offerings in the Emerald City area to keep your holiday spirit in high supply.
If you’re a multi-tasker who doesn’t have much time for holiday activities, this is the event for you! Pacific Place – one of downtown Seattle’s primary shopping centers – celebrates the Christmas season with indoor evening “snow” showers. Sip on a hot cocoa from the downstairs cafe while you cheer, “let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!” and never sacrifice a moment of productivity. Each shower lasts 10 minutes.
For the young (and young at heart): Santa also makes a daily appearance!
Where: Pacific Place (600 Pine Street)
When:November 25th – December 24th, Mon – Sat, 6 and 7 p.m; Sun 5 and 6 p.m.
Bellevue’s Snowflake Lane rings in the holiday season in style. Brilliantly coloured beams shine like spotlights all over Lincoln and Bellevue Squares as an enormous parade – complete with an army of dancing, singing, expertly costumed characters – marches cheerily down Bellevue Way to the tune of Christmas favourites played over a state of the art sound system. Live toy soldiers and snowmen roam in and out of the crowds that fill the sidewalks to add an interactive element to the experience. The magic continues as the entire event is dusted with “snow.” We’re just glad we aren’t a part of the clean up crew!
Where: The Bellevue Collection (Bellevue, WA – straight between Bellevue Square and Lincoln Square)
When: November 25th – December 24th, nightly at 7 p.m.
Maybe the only place in the state where you can see over one million twinkling lights festively arranged into ornate displays. As if that wasn’t enough, you’ll also find wandering clans of cheery carolers, hot cocoa and tasty snacks, theatre performances, unique shopping, and fireside stories. And if you just can’t get enough holiday spirit, check into one of the many cabins dotted around the camp to stay the night!
Where: Warm Beach Camp (Stanwood, WA)
When: December 1-4, 8-11, 15-18, 20-23, 26-28, 5 – 10 p.m.
Seattle’s longest standing flora-and-fauna-themed festival of lights. Just as the animals are tucked in for the night, two legged visitors are welcomed into the zoo to feast eyes on the brilliance of over 600,000 thousand lights, wrapped here and there into awe-inspiring displays. Chill out with an indoor snowball fight or hand crafted snowman in the Snowmazium, take a twist on the holiday carousel, meet Santa’s reindeer, visit the nocturnal creatures in their habitats, and so much more! Plus, guests 21+ can enjoy a Winter Warm Up under a covered space – a selection of beer, wine, mulled wine, spiked cider, and a selection of hot and tasty nibbles are available until the event closes each night.
Where: Woodland Park Zoo
When: November 25 – January 1 (closed December 24 – 25), 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., nightly
This one is Seattle area…ish. Where else are you going to find an otherworldly Bavarian village? Although Leavenworth welcomes visitors year-round, there is something special about this little town in the winter – the snow, the toy-like buildings, everyone in their coziest clothes. A true winter wonderland. As for Christmas cheer: lights! There is a lighting ceremony every Saturday and Sunday at 4:30, and the over half a million twinkling strings are lit all day Fridays. Festivities on Saturdays and Sundays begin at noon, with the jubilant arrival of Santa and all of his helpers. In addition, Leavenworth offers a great assortment of restaurants, lodges, shopping, and more.
Where: Downtown Leavenworth, WA
When: December 2nd – December 18th
Santa, baby! If you’re looking for a questionably outlandish way to celebrate your anticipation of Christmas…here it is. Dress in your Santa-y (or elf-ish or reindeer-like) best and join thousands of other festive characters for a good ol’ fashioned holiday pub crawl.
Okay, if you ask the founders of the event: “every time you call it [a pub crawl], a sugar plum fairy dies!” This is because the intention is to focus energy on creativity and community. We love that, but we also love the idea of dressing like a fat bearded man in red pajamas and drinking our way through Seattle.
When: Saturday, December 17, noon – 2 a.m. December 18
7. Gingerbread Village at Sheraton Hotel Downtown
A grand Seattle tradition makes a compelling entrance into its 24th year with larger than life gingerbread structures crafted in the spirit of everyone’s favorite wizarding world. (Harry Potter, of course.) Every year, the culinary team at the downtown Seattle Sheraton Hotel partners with top local architecture and construction firms to design, bake, and assemble their iconic themed gingerbread village, which is revealed in late November and remains on display for the duration of the holiday season. The delectable exhibition is free to the public, but donations are appreciated. Donations – perhaps ironically – benefit the Northwest chapter of JDRF, an organization committed to finding a cure for type 1 diabetes.
Where: Downtown Seattle Sheraton Hotel
When: November 22nd – January 1st, 24 hours a day
8. Winterfest Ice Rink
A jovial part of Seattle Center’s Winterfest, which features a plethora of live performances, ice sculptures, a winter train village, and other pint-sized holiday diversions. The ice rink is open to skaters of all ages and skill levels. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12, $2 for children 5 and under. Admission includes skate rental. Cash only. If you have kiddos who want to do some gliding, but you prefer to stay off the ice, Winterfest has you covered! Patrons who don’t plan to skate may standby for free.
Where: Fisher Pavillion, Seattle Center
When: November 25th – January 2nd, Sun – Thur 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Fri – Sat 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Notes: Closes at 4 p.m. December 24th, closed December 25th, closes at 11:30 p.m. December 31st
The Pacific Northwest Ballet has been producing their own version of this Christmas classic since 1983. In 2015, PNB took on the George Balanchine rendition, which they will be performing again this year at McCaw Hall in Seattle Center. If you’re looking to add even more holiday magic to your experience, PNB offers The Nutcracker Suites, a small offering of light bites, sparkling wine, and a do-it-yourself cupcake decoration bar during intermission, for an additional charge. Tickets for this event are sold separately from tickets for the performance, and space is limited. Book well in advance to guarantee your spot!
Where: McCaw Hall
When: November 25th – December 28th, times vary
10. Candy Cane Lane
Since 1949, this string of 23 1920s Tudor-style homes has been turning up the holiday cheer by covering themselves in glittering lights, sleighs, mechanical decorations, carolers, and even an occasional appearance by a host of elves handing out candy canes! Although Candy Cane Lane is technically a drive-through event, we’ve found that taking the trip on foot can feel much more rewarding. Ditch the traffic, bundle up, grab some hot chocolate (and perhaps a bottle of wine for later) at Seven Street Market & Cafe, and take in all of the jazzy delight. Don’t forget to drop a can or two of food into the drive box at the end of the lane!
Where: Ravenna/Roosevelt neighbourhood (north of Ravenna Blvd at 21st Ave NE)
When: December 3rd – January 1st, 4 p.m. – 11 p.m.