Feeling Festive in Seattle

Westlake Center lights

The holidays are a wonderful time to wander the streets of our beloved city, taking in all of the beautiful decorations and exciting seasonal events suited for all ages. Wondering exactly where to go in the region to see all of the magical sights and get in on the fun? Here’s a guide to get you through the many activities and festive decor to see what Seattle has to offer this year!

Great news—there are holiday light displays everywhere, and they’re already up and ready for your viewing pleasure, no need to wait for a specific lighting ceremony! Head to the Woodland Park Zoo ($26-$31 entry fee) for their WildLanterns Lights Festival. Here, you’ll be able to gaze at animals constructed entirely from strings of lights and lanterns. There are various live lantern exhibitions and a meet-and-greet with live animals; check the schedule and purchase tickets here.

Keeping with the animal theme, the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma has a festive display with a whopping 800,000 twinkling lights! While it may be a little farther from Downtown Seattle, their collection has tributes to what we love most about Seattle—like a Seahawks tree, a Sasquatch, and a Pacific octopus. They’ve also added a tunnel of lights, perfect for holiday photo ops. Tickets range from $12 to $15 for nonmembers, and members will have access to special pricing. Learn more and purchase tickets here.


For those opting for budget-friendly options, there are no admission fees at Westlake Park and Occidental Square in Downtown Seattle, Redmond Lights, and Leavenworth Christmas Lighting Festival! If you’re going to venture to Downtown Seattle to take in the lights in Westlake Park and Occidental Square—plan for the weekend days. On Saturdays, there will be free hot cocoa and cookies to keep you warm as you wander the streets, and on Sundays, you’ll take in the beautiful lights while festive live music fills the square. You can find the performance schedule here. If you’re heading to Redmond, expect a stunning display as you enjoy a self-guided tour through the Downtown Park and Redmond City Center. There’s also a window display competition and a coloring contest for the kiddos! Decided to make the trek and attend the Leavenworth festival? Expect to experience the ULTIMATE town-wide Christmas display—half a million sparkling lights will guide you around as you’re serenaded by carolers and entertained by holiday characters.


If you’re looking for more than just lights, we have some fun activities to recommend throughout the area. For the competitive persons, participate in the holiday scavenger hunt across Downtown Seattle. Learn more about how to participate in the hunt here. Across the lake, Bellevue is full of fun happenings that can be enjoyed with friends and family of all ages. From the beautiful, complementary admission Snowflake Lane to ice skating, you’ll make the most of this time of the year with either activity. If Snowflake Lane is your choice, plan to arrive well before 7 pm so you can settle into a prime spot for the nightly parade! For those that are brave enough to slap on a pair of ice skates, head to the region’s largest seasonal rink in the Downtown Bellevue Park. There’s daily skating available, but they also offer themed skating events like Football Sunday or the Ugly Sweater Skate. Learn more and purchase tickets here.

Parade 2
Snowflake lane

Lastly, don’t forget two of Seattle’s most beloved holiday festivals—the Christmas Ships Festival or Winterfest! You can join in on the parade on one of the festively decorated ships, but don’t wait to purchase tickets as they are selling out fast. Loaded with a live choir, gift shop, full bar, and holiday characters like Santa and the Grinch, it will be an unforgettable evening for the whole family. Or, pack up the thermos and blankets and find a beachfront viewing spot to watch the ships parade by from the shores. The full schedule and parade routes can be found here. Finally, Winterfest is jam-packed with activities and displays and the perfect holiday event for the whole family. There’s a winter train and village with a scavenger hunt list so you can interact with the exhibits. Or, on Saturdays, you can watch master ice carvers Chan Kitburi, and Janson Iwakami transform blocks of ice into beautiful sculptures. And, of course, there’s a packed schedule of performances taking place at the Armory Stage!

But, at the end of the day, all roads lead to Nine Hats in the lively SODO district. Visit us before or after you take in the awe-inspiring twinkling lights around our city. Plus, for 12 days this month, we will be hosting our 12 Wines of December event! Stop by any (or all) of the days from December 8th through the 23rd for 25% off the featured wine, plus a bonus gift with purchase. Keep an eye out on our Facebook or Instagram for what each wine will be over these 12 days! We’re wishing you the happiest of holidays, and we’re grateful for your continued support. Cheers to you, Nine Hatters!

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