Updated for the 2016 Season
November is a rough month for us here in Seattle. When the sun bothers to shine at all, night still arrives just after 4:00pm. And, it rains constantly. I always manage to power through though, because just after November is December! In Seattle, that means lots of lights up everywhere, shopping in the city, and drinking lots of Starbucks holiday beverages in festive red cups. And, there’s suddenly so much to do in Seattle that you barely even notice the rain anymore. Hurray for holidays in Seattle! To keep you and your family entertained in December, here are some of our favorite Family Holiday Events in Seattle.
Teddy Bear Suite at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel
Visit the Teddy Bear Suite in the lovely Fairmont Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle. Your kids will be in awe from the moment you walk into the Fairmont lobby, as it’s decorated with gorgeous trees, wreaths, and gingerbread. After a short ride up the elevator, you’ll be ushered into a suite of rooms with teddy bears of every shape and size. Your kids will love hugging lots of new friends and parents will have a great time snapping lots of pictures of the kids in this beautiful setting. On your way out, grab a candy cane and consider making a donation–the Teddy Bear Suite raises money for Seattle Children’s Hospital. The Teddy Bear Suite is open from 10am-6pm daily (including Christmas!) from November 25 through to December 26, 2016.
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Gingerbread Village at the Sheraton Hotel
Another must-do activity in downtown Seattle is at the Sheraton Hotel, where the lobby is filled with an amazing Gingerbread Village. The theme varies every year. In 2016, the theme is “Celebrate the Magic of the Holidays”! Each year local architects and the culinary staff at the Sheraton try to out-do each other with wondrous creations. You’ll mostly wonder how on earth they made such amazing things out of gingerbread and candy! If you’re moved to make a donation, money raised goes to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund. The Gingerbread Village is open 24 hours per day from November 22, 2016-January 1, 2017.
Ride the Holiday Carousel and do some shopping at Westlake Park
While you’re in downtown, swing by Westlake Park for a ride on the Holiday Carousel. This wooden carousel offers lots of beautiful animals for your kids to ride, or you can enjoy waving to people while riding one of the stationary benches throughout the carousel. As with the Teddy Bear Suite and the Gingerbread Village, proceeds from the Holiday Carousel go to charity. And, don’t miss the chance to look at the big Christmas tree in front of Westlake Center! In 2016, Westlake Park will also be home to a Holiday Market, so you can do some shopping after your ride on the carousel! The carousel fun starts on November 25, 2016 and runs through January 2, 2017 and the Holiday Market will be open from November 25 through to Christmas Eve.
Celebrate at the Zoo
If you’re not interested in coming into the city, how about celebrating the holidays at the zoo? Both Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo and Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo decorate their grounds with thousands of lights and open up at night so you can come see the zoos in a whole new way! Both Wildlights at the Woodland Park Zoo and Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo start on November 25, 2016 and run through January 1, 2017.
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Go Ice Skating
Or, how about some ice skating? In Tacoma, drop by the Franciscan Polar Plaza where you can skate at the Franciscan Polar Plaza, an open-air, covered ice skating rink in the heart of downtown. This venue is open November 19, 2016 to January 1, 2017. Hours vary by day. While you’re skating, there will be music and other entertainment. In Seattle, head over to the ice rink at Seattle Center, located on the ground floor of Fisher Pavilion. Skating fun is open November 25, 2016 through January 2, 2017 (Closed Christmas Day, hours vary by day). Both places offer skate rental and are great for trying out your ice skating skills!
Seattle Center has a whole host of other great holiday activities as well. Winterfest is a month-long party right under the Space Needle, running from the day after Thanksgiving through to New Year’s Eve. Your child (and you too, honestly) will love checking out the huge Winter Train and Village, and maybe even taking a turn at the controls! While you’re doing this, you’re likely to have some great music to listen to, as many local schools and other groups come and perform throughout Winterfest on the stage in the Seattle Center Armory (formerly called the Center House). If you’re in the mood for some theatre or ballet, Seattle Center offers lots of choices where the Seattle Children’s Theatre is putting on performances of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (through December 11, 2016) and Stellaluna (December 1, 2016-January 15, 2017), and George Balanchine’s The NutcrackerTM is being danced at McCaw Hall!
Book a Festive Cruise
Want to celebrate the holidays while on the move? Argosy Cruises celebrates with the Christmas Ship Festival, with lots of lights and caroling, in 45 communities around the Puget Sound during the holiday season. Book either a ticket on one of the boats in the festival or watch from shore! If a train is more your speed, head up to North Bend and take a ride on the Santa Train or visit Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad’s Santa Express. Both are complete with cocoa and visits from Santa Claus himself!
Warm Beach Camp
Another local favorite is The Lights of Christmas at Warm Beach Camp. Check out the 15 acres of over 1 million Christmas lights, pony rides, and ride the train. Enjoy lots of entertainment, pet animals, some snacks and just generally have a great time!
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What are your favorite things to do in Seattle during the holidays? Share your tips with us in the comments!
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