15 Christmas Activities in Seattle and the Eastside


Christmas Activities in WA for Families and How to Document Them

If you haven’t guessed from the multiple Halloween posts this fall, we are pretty into the holidays. Seattle is a hard place to live in the winter. It rains and the days are short. That is where Christmas festivities come to the rescue. Today I want to share some of my family’s favorite activities and places to go in and around Seattle during the holidays. I have a little something for everyone and almost all of these Seattle and Eastside activities work for all ages. I hope that you comment with your favorite thing to do during this time of year. 

  1. Magic in the Market: Kick off the season in downtown Seattle with carolers, Santa, and the tree lighting in Pike Place Market. It is always the Saturday after Thanksgiving. You can check off some shopping while down there or take out of town guests for a local tradition. I am a sucker for carrots in lights!

  2. Gingerbread Village: Head to The Sheraton Grand Seattle early morning to see the Gingerbread Village, benefiting juvenile diabetes. While in the area you can pop on the Holiday Carousel at the Westlake Center and stop by the Fairmont for the Teddy Bear Suit and the Festival of Trees.

  3. Redmond Lights: Meanwhile, back on the Eastside, the Redmond Lights is one of our favorite activities. You meet at Redmond Town Center, hop on a bus that takes you to the tree lighting. After the tree is lit you wander the path filled with light displays and carolers ( and LED hula hoops and fire eaters?!) back to the town center. It is campy and fun. Everything the holidays should be. There is a carousel and ice rink in RTC for more family fun. ( December 1st and 2nd ).

  4. Christmas Ship Festival: Ok, we haven’t tried this yet, but I am dying to see the huge parade of decorated boats sail onto Lake Union. “The Spirit of Seattle, the Official Christmas Ship™, is decorated with hundreds of shimmery white lights and sails to different Puget Sound waterfront communities – around 65 in all. Choirs on board the Christmas Ship™ perform to guests aboard as well as to our Follow Boats and to those communities gathered on shore.” You can ride a boat or watch from shore. There are several ways to enjoy this experience (learn more here).

  5. Candy Cane Lane: Pack your family up in the car or park and walk around the neighborhood to view houses just dripping with Christmas lights. We often drive, but pack the car full of cookies and play Christmas music the whole time. (Candy Cane Lane Details)

  6. Snowflake Lane: Every single night for a month in downtown Bellevue there is a parade and snow! EVERY NIGHT! At 7pm, music plays, floats make their way down the lane, and “snow” tops off every performance. It is a little over the top if you have easily overwhelmed kids, but super fun. I recommend going on a weekday if possible.

  7. Green Lake’s Pathway of Lights: I can’t vouch for this one, but there is a hot air balloon glow, so we will be going this year! “This FREE family favorite holiday event is on Saturday, December 8 from 4:30-7:30 p.m. Come stroll the glimmering Green Lake circuit, paths, and docks which will be lit with thousands of twinkling candles. Enjoy complimentary refreshments and live holiday music while you wander through the magic of the sparkling lights.”

  8. Visit Leavenworth: An entire town can be a Christmas activity when it is an adorable little city modeled after a Bavarian village. Mulled wine, Santa and other characters wandering around, SO many lights, and just quaint adorable experiences everywhere you turn. If you plan to stay overnight, book lodgings early as everything books up fast this time of year. BONUS: Visit the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm. There is a little playground, a tour, hot chocolate, the nicest people and plenty of reindeer! We LOVE it.

  9. Trinity Tree Farm: We actually switched to a fake tree, but still go out to Trinity every year. We buy garland, cozy up around the outdoor fires, and romp around the trees taking photos. If you are looking for an actual tree, it is obviously perfect for that as well.

  10. Enchant Christmas Light Maze: The world’s largest lightmaze at Safeco Field. I am going just to see the look on Ru’s face. Eek!

  11. Santa Train: We are thrilled to take Rufus on the Santa Train at the Northwest Railway Museum this year. Trains, treats and Santa! Learn more here and book your tickets- it is selling out quick!

  12. Seattle Center Winterfest: Speaking of trains, I can’t wait to take Rufus to see the train village. “Connect to a world of sparkling lights, child-sized amusements and spirited entertainment at Seattle Center Winterfest, Nov. 23 – Dec. 31, in Center venues and on the grounds. Five weeks of festive, fun-filled, free and affordable activities…Featuring Winterfest Ice Rink and Saturday ice sculpting including a full day of ice carving mastery on Sunday, December 16th, Winter Train & Village returns, along with live weekend performances and inspiring student showcases.”

  13. Diving Santa: Visit the aquarium and see the diving Santa! There are musical performances (see schedule) and the aquarium is always a fun family place.

  14. Wildlights: The Woodland Park Zoo presents “Seattle's wildest holiday lights festival returns with sparkling lights, faux snowball fights, up close animal encounters, hot chocolate and family delights. Experience brand new wild and wonderful light displays that will be featured throughout the zoo including a holiday light spectacular at the zoo’s south entrance which will now be open throughout the run of WildLights.”

  15. Garden d’Lights: Don’t let the name throw you, the Garden d’Lights at the Bellevue Botanical Garden are magical. I live nearby and always get to witness the careful setup that goes into it. The pathway is filled with different scenes, moving displays, and more. It is so beautiful and fun!

Photography Tips for Christmas Festivities:

  • Bring “the good camera” out for special occasions, but stick to your phone camera during the more crowded activities.

  • Download the KiraKira app to make the lights REALLY twinkle.

  • Don’t stress over photographing everything. Take a few pics, then put the camera away and really enjoy the holidays with your fam!