Holiday Events 2016

It's our annual holiday event guide for 2016, with 31 things to do now through December to help you and your loved ones enjoy this festive time in Seattle. We hope you all make many joyful memories and new traditions (and celebrate old ones), and wish you all the happiness and peace of the season.

Thanks to Sound Excursions, we're giving away four pairs of tickets to their events this season! Two lucky couples will win a trip to Leavenworth on their Christmas Shuttle, and two other couples will win tickets to their spectacular wreath making events. See below for giveaway rules and fine print, including how to enter. Good luck and happy holidays! [THIS CONTEST HAS ENDED - THANK YOU FOR ALL THE ENTRIES AND CONGRATS TO THE WINNERS!]

1 - Downtown Tree Lighting & Carousel

Image: ErinIBarker / flickr, (edited)

Image: ErinIBarker / flickr, (edited)

The streets will be filled with people starting their holiday shopping the Friday after Thanksgiving. Stay downtown through the evening to see the holiday tree light up outside Westlake Center, then the 60th Annual Macy's Star Lighting and fireworks show (weather permitting). The Holiday Carousel will be spinning across the street in Westlake Park, now in it's 30th season.

  • Macy's Star Lighting and Fireworks at Westlake Park, Nov 25, 4:45 pm, 
  • Holiday Carousel in Westlake Park Winter Village, opens Nov 25

Nearby tree lighting festivities:

2 - Macy's Holiday Parade in Seattle



The 26th Annual My Macy's Holiday Parade in Seattle starts at 7th and Pine, then south on 5th to University, then back down 4th to the Macy's near Westlake Center. This is a one-hour parade starting at 9 am the Friday after Thanksgiving. 

You can view the televised, 90th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from New York on NBC on Thursday, Nov 24, from 9 am - Noon. 


3 - WildLights at Woodland Park Zoo



Ride the festive trolley to the entrance of the 5th Annual Wild Lights at Woodland Park Zoo, warm-up with some hot cocoa, and walk around the zoo together admiring the displays of animal-shaped lights. Take a ride on the Historic Carousel ($2), and look for the nearby reindeer shelter. Get your photo taken with Santa on special evenings (Friday through Sunday, and December 19 - 23). Look for special themed days, like Seahawks Night on December 12th where you can take a photo with Blitz and go on a Seahawks Scavenger Hunt. 

Enter at the West Entrance on Phinney, between N 55th and N 56th. Free parking in Penguin, Otter, and Bear lots during WildLights nights.

  • WildLights, Woodland Park Zoo, Nov 25 - Jan 1, 5:30 - 8:30 pm. Closed Dec 24 - 25.
  • Zoo Lights, Pt. Defiance Zoo (Tacoma), Nov 25 - Jan 1, 5 - 9 pm. Closed Dec 24.



4 - Wreath Making 

Image: Sound Exxcursions

Image: Sound Exxcursions

Bring a date or friend to Sound Excursion's wreath making event, where you'll create a fresh-smelling holiday wreath of evergreens, pine cones, holly, bows (and whatever else you'd like) to take home with you. They'll have the supplies, tools, and a team to guide you, as well as hot spiced cider to warm you up - or, if you attend the event in Woodinville, you'll be welcomed with a glass of wine on arrival and enjoy a tasting of 5 Beaumont Cellars wines. 

  • Wreath Making at Pike Place Market, Elliot Bay Room, Nov 30, Dec 2 & 9th,
  • Woodinville Wreath Making and Wine Tasting, Beaumont Cellars, Dec 1, 2, 4, 8, 11, 15, 16, 18, 22,


5 - SAM Lights

Walk down to the Olympic Sculpture Park for this free, annual event brought to you by the Seattle Art Museum.  Celebrate the holidays, as well as ten years of this outdoor park, as the sculptures and pathways are lit up for a unique display. Wear light-up clothing or accessories if you have them. 

6 - Argosy Cruises Christmas Ship Festival

Though the Christmas Ship cruises sell out fast every year, you don't have to be on board to enjoy this Seattle tradition. Look for the dates they sail to your neighborhood and come out to enjoy a 20-minute performance from the ship's choir, and sing along with the crowd as you warm-up around a bonfire.

  • Argosy Cruises Christmas Ship Festival, (scroll down to see a full schedule of performance stops)
  • See also: Waterway Cruises and Events Holiday Parade of Lights Dining Cruises,


7 - The Gingerbread Village at the Sheraton

  The 24th Annual Gingerbread Village is taking over the lobby of the Sheraton hotel downtown once again,  with a 'wizarding world' of candy-coated creations. Local architecture firms and builders team up with the hotel’s culinary team to bring gingerbread displays to life, all while supporting the JDRF Northwest Chapter to help fund research and find a cure for Juvenile Diabetes. 100% of the donations go directly to the cause.


8 - Clam Lights, Fantasy Lights, and More Local Light Shows

Image: Yuri Levchenko / flickr (Menashe Family Lights on Beach Drive in West Seattle)

Image: Yuri Levchenko / flickr (Menashe Family Lights on Beach Drive in West Seattle)

Attend the Annual Ivar’s Clam Lights free opening night celebration on December 2 and you’ll not only see the light display along the one mile walking loop, you’ll have photo opportunities with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, see the Rainier Yacht Club’s ‘Parade of Boats’, and be treated to songs sung from the Dickens Carolers as their Argosy Christmas Ship makes an appearance.

The Fantasy Lights in Spanaway Park, now in it’s 22nd year, boast the “largest holiday drive-through display in the Northwest” with a 2-mile drive along the lake. Tune the radio to 95.3 for accompanying holiday music. 

  • Ivar's Clam Lights, Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park, Dec 2 - Jan 1, 2017, 5 - 9 pm, Free. More info:
  • Garden d’Lights, Bellevue Botanical Garden, 12001 Main St, Bellevue. November 26 - Dec 31, 4:30 - 9 pm. Tickets: $5 pp, under 10 free (plus $5 lot parking). Free Nights: Nov 28, 29, 30 & Dec 1, 5, 6, 7, 8. More info:
  • Fantasy Lights, Spanaway Park, Nov 24 -Jan 1 2017, 5:30 - 9 pm. Tickets: $14 per vehicle, Half price nights: Nov 28 - 30, and Dec 5 - 7. More info:
  • Candy Cane Lane, NE Park Road, Ravenna. Mid-Dec - Jan 1, 4 - 11 pm. Free. More Info:
  • Redmond Lights, City Hall, 4 - 6 pm. Luminary Walk, 5 - 7 pm. Redmond Town Center, 6 - 8 pm. December 3. More info:


9 - “The Lights of Christmas” at Warm Beach Camp

Called the largest holiday festival in the Pacific Northwest, the Lights of Christmas is like a small festive theme park with gift shops, theatre performances, and light displays. There’s also visits with Santa,  pony rides, a ‘Polar Express Train’ with nightly rides, Victorian Caroling, face painting, a petting farm, and so much more. This magical place in Stanwood is about an hour north of Seattle, but if you feel the drive is too far purchase an overnight package (with admission included) and stay at one of their decorated homes, like the 2 bedroom “Kringle Kottage”.

  • The Lights of Christmas, 20800 Marine Drive, Stanwood. Tickets: $16 adults - $11 youth, under 3 free. Look for “Pay What You Can” nights with any any price admission. More info:

10 - Holiday Music Shows

Follow the Northwest Boychoir as they sing throughout the area, from performing The Polar Express at Benaroya Hall, to free music Winterfest at Seattle Center, and various venues with their Festival of Lessons & Carols. Also at Benaroya Hall see Holiday Pops, Handel's Messiah, The Coats Annual Holiday Show, and Pacific Lutheran University's "In Sweet Rejoicing" Christmas Celebration.  


11 -  Fun with Santa

Enjoy the fun of Santacon on Saturday December 17th, where hundreds of people dressed in Santa suits and other holiday costumes will parade through the streets, and later, through the bars. Take 'grown-up' photos with Santa at Rhein Haus on Capitol Hill during the 5th Annual Bad Santa Photos, where proceeds from the $10 and up photo packages go to The World is Fun charity. 

12 - Magic in the Market

Join the free holiday celebration downtown at Pike Place Market while you shop for local gifts. There's music, cookie decorating for kids, wreaths for purchase, and more.  Stay for a visit from Santa at 5 pm as he countdowns the holiday lighting of the Market, including the 20-foot tree.   

13 - Leavenworth Christmas Tree Lighting Festival

Book Sound Excursions' luxury bus from South Lake Union or Eastgate Park and Ride, and have fun on the three-hour journey east as you travel to the Bavarian village dressed up as a spectacular Christmas wonderland. Once there you'll have five hours of free time to enjoy the area and festivities, then see the Christmas Tree lighting and the magical lights of the town before the return trip.  

  • Leavenworth Christmas Tree Lighting Festival Shuttle, Sound Excursions, Dec 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 & 18,


14 - The Nutcracker

George Balanchine’s ‘The Nutcracker’ is back for it’s second year with the Pacific Northwest Ballet, based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s tale The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. It’s the story of a little girl named Clara who is gifted a Nutcracker doll by her mysterious Uncle, and experiences a magical night on Christmas Eve as she meets the Nutcracker Prince and travels to the Land of Sweets. Sets and costumes by children’s author Ian Falconer, and the classic score by Peter Tchaikovsky.

Look for ‘value priced’ tickets during opening weekend, Nov 25th, 26th, and 27th. Upgrade your experience with $30 per person admission to The Nutcracker Suites, where you’ll find appetizers and drinks during intermission without having to wait in line in the lobby.  

  • The Nutcracker at PNB, Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St. November 25 - December 28th. Tickets: $25 - $190. or (206) 441 - 2424, or in person box office.

Other local Nutcracker productions:

  • The Nutcracker, Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center, Ensemble Ballet Theatre, Dec 2 - 4,
  • The Nutcracker, Evergreen City Ballet, Dec 2 - 18, Bellevue and Auburn,
  • The Nutcracker, Olympic Ballet Theatre, Everett Performing Arts Center, Dec 10 - 18,


15 - Bellevue's Snowflake Lane & Santa Parade

Image: GoToVan / flickr

Image: GoToVan / flickr

The snow falls nightly at 7 pm on Bellevue Way, as a 20-minute show takes place with holiday characters, drummers dressed as toy soldiers, dancers, and music. Line the street between Bellevue Square, Lincoln Square, and Bellevue Place to watch the free festivities.

  • Snowflake Lane, The Bellevue Collection, November 25 - December 24, 7 pm., Free,

16 - Festival of Trees

In the lobby and grand entrance of the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, you’ll find a magical display of professionally decorated Christmas trees, each with a different theme, and accompanied by a photo and story of a Seattle Children’s patient. If you have a few thousand dollars the trees can be purchased or sponsored, though every penny helps - donations to the Festival of Trees benefit Seattle Children’s Autism Center as well as their amazing Uncompensated Care program.


17 - 'A Christmas Carol' and Other Plays

There are at least three different ways to see the story of Scrooge this season. Ebenezer Scrooge come to life in A Christmas Carol at ACT Theatre, while Taproot Threatre has The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge, and Town Hall has a live, 1930’s radio version of Christmas Carol.

  • A Christmas Carol. Allen Theatre at ACT, 700 Union St, Seattle, Nov 25 - Dec 28. 90 minutes, no intermission.
  • The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge, Taproot Theatre Jewell Mainstage, Nov 18 - Dec 30,
  • Classic Radio 'Christmas Carol', Town Hall, Dec 9,

More local plays:


18 - Urban Craft Uprising & Other Holiday Fairs

If you can’t make the show at Seattle Center, stop by Westlake Park downtown during the holidays, where 24 vendors will be offering their unique goods, with a different set of vendors each week.

Other local holiday fairs: 

  • Native Holiday Gift Fair, Duwamish Longhouse & Cultural Center, Nov 26,
  • Seattle Bizarre Bazaar! Washington Hall, Nov 27,
  • Oddmall Emporium of the Weird, Everett Community College, Nov 19 - 20,
  • Renegade Craft Fair, Magnuson Park, Hangar 30, De 17 - 18,
  • Winter Festival & Crafts Fair, Phinney Center, Dec 3 - 4,
  • Handmade Holiday Market, Sodo Second Use Building Materials, Dec 10,
  • 9th Annual DIY Holiday Fair, The Vera Project, Dec 3,

19 - Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker

Now in it’s eleventh season, Lily Verlaine & Jasper McCann Present Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker at The Triple Door. Celebrate the season with an entertaining and risque rendition of The Nutcracker, that's more of a wild dream with hints of the classical ballet than an adaptation. 

  • Land of the Sweets: Burlesque Nutcracker, The Triple Door, Dec 9 - 29th,

More Variety, Drag, or Burlesque Shows:


20 - Christmas Comedy & Improv Shows

See Ham for the Holidays: Jurassic Pork at ACT, a sketch show by Kisa Koch and Peggy Platt, self-described as a "mishmash of social satire, musical parody, and campy characters:".  

Both A(n Improvised) Christmas Carol at Unexpected Productions in Post Alley, and Uncle Mike Ruins Christmas at Jet City Improv in the University District, are local holiday traditions. While Uncle Mike has been around for a decade, Carol has been playing since 1985. 

The majority of these shows are for mature audiences.



21 - Ice Skating at Winterfest

The holidays mean it's time for Winterfest at Seattle Center, with a miniature Winter Train & Village in the Armory, ice sculpting outside Fisher Pavilion, and the popular Winterfest Ice Rink indoors.  

Bellevue Magic Season Ice Arena presented by Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card starts November 25th, at 11 am. Skate to the music of STAR 101.5 under the largest open-air rink in the region (with a shelter in case of rain). Look for Free Skate Mondays. 

22 - Holiday Movies

Image: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation / Warner Bros

Image: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation / Warner Bros

Screen White Christmas at SIFF Film Center this December with free jingle-bells and a sing-along preview, see the holiday classic It’s A Wonderful Life at the Grand Illusion’s 46th annual showing, in 35mm film, or watch a bunch of holiday movies at Central Cinema. Don't miss National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation December 13th on $1.99 movie night, or Hecklevision: Jingle All the Way on Dec 15. 



23 - A Victorian Country Christmas

Imagine the classic fair food and vendor booths with a holiday touch, all decorated like a Victorian village, and you have the 29th Annual Victorian Country Christmas down in Puyallup. There's a Singing Nativity, stage shows, a visit from Santa, and more. 

24 - Holiday Cookies



The Seattle Milk Fund is a local charity that helps pay for child care so low-income parents can get a higher education and a better life.  Pick up some tasty treats at this event and support a great cause this holiday season. 

  • Milk Fund CookieFest, Seattle Center Armory Loft, December 10, 10 am - 1 pm,


25 - Butchart Gardens Holiday Lights with the Victoria Clipper

Travel to Victoria, BC to tour the beautiful Butchart Gardens during the 12 Days of Christmas Holiday Lights show. See more than 300,000 lights, skate in the open-air ice rink, and take a spin on the Rose Carousel as you listen to carolers sing holiday tunes.  

With the Clipper Vacations Package, starting at $171 per adult, you get a round trip cruise from Seattle to Victoria onboard the Victoria Clipper, a one night stay in a Victoria hotel, and a tour of the gardens light show.


26 - Take a Holiday Train Ride

Image: Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum Facebook

Image: Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum Facebook

Bundle up in your pajamas and get ready for a magical train ride for all ages with the Polar Express Train Ride down in Elbe, about an hour and a half south of Seattle. You'll hear a reading of The Polar Express, while enjoying hot cocoa and cookies on your journey. 

Departing from North Bend, the Santa Train travels to Snoqualmie where you can enjoy cookies and hot cocoa with Santa at the Snoqualmie Train Depot before heading back.  This is a two-hour event, including the 20 minute train ride each way.

  • The Polar Express Train Ride, Mt Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum, Elbe, WA. Nov 19 - Dec 30,
  • Santa Train, Northwest Railway Museum, Snohomish, WA. Nov 26, 27, Dec 3, 4, 10, 11, 16, 17, Tickets: $24 ages 2 and up,


27 - More Holiday Shopping Events

Image: GeekCraft Expo Facebook

Image: GeekCraft Expo Facebook

From ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Small Business Saturday’ the days after Thanksgiving to GeekCraft Exp at Seattle Center and Art Under $100 at Seattle Design Center, the holiday shopping opportunities abound. If you shop downtown, be sure to stop by Pacific Place for their evening 'snow' twice a night.

28 - Tree Farms

Christmas Tree Farms are full of holiday cheer and excitement of the season. Pick out your Christmas Tree, take a lot of festive photos, and make a lot of memories. 

29 - Holiday Spirits

Head to Woodinville’s Wine Country for the annual St. Nick’s Holiday Wine Tasting, starting Friday December 2nd with a Holiday Wine Tasting Night, followed by a weekend of ‘Saint Nick’s Open House’ as over 30 local wineries celebrate the season. Drink award-winning local wine, win prizes, enjoy nearby restaurants, and if you’d like, make it an overnight.

30 - Caroling 

Money raised from the 30th Annual Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition supports the Pike Market Senior Center & Food Bank. Watch the teams of carolers sing, followed by a sing-off competition on stage, downtown at Westlake Center on December 2nd, from 6 - 8:30 pm.

31 - Runs

Holiday runs are a great time to dress up in costumes suited for the season - think ugly Christmas sweaters, jingle bells, and light up jewelry. If you need more motivation, the Ugly Sweater Run ends with a warm hot chocolate and a Kahlua cocktail.

Full Sound Excursions Giveaway Rules and Information: 

We're giving away four pairs of tickets (2 pairs for Leavenworth and 2 pairs for Wreath Making). To enter, like us on Facebook and comment on this post on Facebook with "leavenworth", "wreath making", or "either". 

Winners will be chosen at random, contacted via Facebook, and required to provide contact information (name, phone number, and email address)  which will be given to Sound Excursions, who will reach out to the winners and issue tickets via email. If contact information is not provided within 48 hours a new winner will be chosen. Dates and location of the events for the winning tickets are at the discretion of Sound Excursions.

More fine print:

Approximate prize values: 1) $140 for pair of Leavenworth tickets, 2) $140 second pair of Leavenworth tickets, 3)  $130 - $150 for pair of wreath making tickets, 4) $130 - $150 for second pair of wreath making tickets; all plus any applicable taxes.

Sound Excursions is not responsible for this promotion, but is providing tickets. In the event the tickets are not provided by Sound Excursions, Seattle Date Night will be responsible for the approximate prize value and nothing more.

Seattle Date Night is not liable nor responsible for any harm or injuries resulting from these events. Facebook is not affiliated with this giveaway.