Free holiday fun around Seattle

 In Holidays, Washington

What will you remember after the holidays have come and gone? What you got Aunt Judy and how you cooked the ham… or a holiday experience with someone you love?

Step away from the to-do list and check out these 10+ ideas for free holiday fun around Seattle.

Life’s too short not to indulge in a little merry magic together.

Winter Village at Westlake Park

The Winter Village’s carousel is an iconic Seattle holiday classic. For a suggested donation of only $3, it’s worth a twinkling, organ-piped spin. You’ll also find doughnut and hot-drink vendors, a cell-recharge lounge and a free kids corner with books, interactive games and activities.

Tip: This is a great mid-errand distraction for the kids. Or, heck, it could even be a great mid-shopping break for yourself!

Winter Village
Nov. 28, 2014 – January 1, 2015
11 am – 9 pm daily
Westlake Park
Pine Street between Third and Seventh, Seattle

Gingerbread Village

This year’s theme, “Jingle All The Way,” brings to life endearing holiday tunes as wow-worthy culinary creations. Donations benefit JDRF, dedicated to researching and curing type-one diabetes.

Tip: If possible, go during the week in early December to avoid the weekend rush.

Gingerbread Village
November 25, 2014 – January 5, 2015
7 days a week, 24 hours a day
Sheraton Hotel Lobby
1400 6th Avenue, Seattle

SeattleGingerbreadVillageSheraton_Ship

Argosy Christmas Ships

An armada of festively lighted ships set sail to the tune of live choir performances. With lots of different days, times and launching points around Puget Sound, there’s sure to be a Christmas ship launch to suit your busy holiday schedule.

Tip: B.Y.O.Hot Cocoa and some cozy blankets.

Argosy Christmas Ships
November 28, 2014 – December 23, 2014
Evenings
Various locations in Seattle, Kirkland, Tacoma, Edmonds and Poulsbo

Pacific Place Winter Wonderland

Check out the Pacific Place website for a full schedule of Santa appearances, musical performances and even nightly snow flurries in the atrium at 6 p.m. Buddy the Elf (from the 5th Avenue Theatre musical) will even make a few appearances at select “snowings.” Illuminated snowflake wands (available for purchase) benefit the Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Tip: Grab a budget-friendly happy hour meal, watch the snow fall and head upstairs for a holiday movie. Forget the kids–that sounds like a great date night!

Pacific Place Winter Wonderland
November 28, 2014 – December 24, 2014
6 pm
Pacific Place
600 Pine Street, Seattle

Teddy Bear Suite

With hundreds of stuffed bears in one palatial, teddy-packed suite, this is a fantastic photo opp.

Tip: Make sure you have a good low-light camera if you want some good pictures. And be forewarned, this outing can be  frustrating with little tots. The hands-off rule is just too tempting to break in a room full of toys. However, if you think they can muster it, there’s always the reward (or bribe) of a free candy cane on your way out.

Teddy Bear Suite
November 23, 2014 – December 30, 2015
11 am – 5 pm Monday to Thursday
10 am – 7 pm Friday to Sunday (and Christmas Eve)
Fairmont Olympic Hotel
411 University Street, Seattle

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Festival of Trees

Festival of Trees
November 22, 2014 – December 3, 2014
7 days a week, 24 hours a day
Fairmont Olympic Hotel
411 University Street, Seattle

Each unique, jaw-dropping tree is dedicated to a courageous Seattle Children’s Hospital patient. Donations benefit Seattle Children’s Autism Center and Uncompensated Care at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Tip: If you can, take an afternoon off midweek and hit the Festival of Trees, the Teddy Bear suite (also in the Fairmont), the Gingerbread Village in the Sheraton, and the holiday carousel at Westlake in one swoop. You’ll get a lot of holiday fun for your buck–and time–all within blocks of each other, without the weekend crowds.

Seattle Center Winterfest

This fest boasts lots of family-friendly activities (including ice skating), but a clear favorite is the impressive miniature train and village display, located inside the food court. Your kid might even get a turn at playing engineer.

Tip: This is a great idea when, baby, it’s cold outside. You can also stay there for lunch or even pop into the Children’s Museum downstairs and make a day of it.

Seattle Center Winterfest
November 28, 2014 – December 31, 2014
10 am – 6 pm daily
Closed: after 4 pm on December 24 and all day December 25
Seattle Center
305 Harrison Street, Seattle

Seattle Neighborhood Light Displays

Take a drive around one of these free neighborhood light shows:

Candy Cane Lane
Northeast Park Road, off Ravenna Boulevard, Seattle
December 6, 2014 – January 1, 2015

Olympic Park Manor
Start at NW 85th Street and 23rd Avenue NW
Mid- to Late-December

Tip: The traffic in these neighborhoods can get pretty crazy. Pick a less-frigid night and see the sights on foot. Bonus: It’s better for your health and for the environment.

10IdeasFreeSeattleHolidayFun_MountainMooseLights

Garden d’Lights

Each year a talented group of volunteers transforms the Bellevue Botanical Gardens into a brilliant winter wonderful. With a half-million lights and more than 30 “critters” (including Charlotte in her web), it will have your whole holiday crew ooh-ing and ahh-ing.

Tip: Usually tickets are a reasonable $5 per person (kids 10 and under are free), but on the following dates, everyone is free: December 1-4 and 8-11.

Garden d’Lights
November 29, 2014 – January 3, 2015
4:30 – 9:30 pm every night, including holidays (last entry 9 pm)
Bellevue Botanical Garden
12001 Main Street, Bellevue

Swanson’s Reindeer Festival

Catch Dasher and Blitzen feedings at 10 am or 4 pm, with a special farewell feeding at 2 pm Christmas Eve; check out the “Frozen”-themed model trains display; listen to live holiday music and more.

Tip: Rather than getting a tree that will go to the curb weeks later, why not try one of Swanson’s live trees this year? You can even donate it afterward to the Trees for Salmon project and help your local environment.

Swanson’s Nursery
November 14, 2014 – December 24, 2014 (closed Thanksgiving and after 3:00pm Christmas Eve)
9 am – 6 pm daily
Swansons Nursery
9701 15th Avenue NW, Seattle

More free fun: one-day-only events

November 28, 2014
Seattle Macy’s Holiday Parade
9 – 10 am
Start: Seventh and Pine, Seattle
Finish: Fourth and Pine, Seattle

November 28, 2014
Westlake Star Lighting and Fireworks
5 pm
Fourth and Pine, Seattle

November 29, 2014
Magic in the Market
1 – 5 pm
Pike Place Market, Seattle

December 1, 2014
Christmas Carnival
12:30 – 8 pm
Westin Hotel, Seattle

December 7, 2014
Great Figgy Pudding Street Corner Caroling Competition
5 – 8:30 pm
Westlake Center, Seattle

December 11, 2014
SAM Lighted Park Walk and Art Activities
5:30 – 7:30 pm
Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle

December 31, 2014
New Year’s Eve Fireworks
Midnight
Space Needle, Seattle

Looking for ideas after the holidays?

Check out my (Angela) Free Seattle series on MyCastleHeart.com. Going forward, I’ll continue the series right here on Walking on Travels. Now that Keryn has moved back East,  I’m chipping in to cover all things Seattle. So if there’s anything you’d like me to feature, let me know in the comments below.

Angela Taylor Hylland
Upon Angela's head teeters a grand stack of hats: mother, entrepreneur, author, publisher, gaming guru, traveler, poet, enlightenment seeker, craftoholic, cancer warrior, and student of the world. Professionally, she's most well known for her editorial work on games. Personally, she’s now publishing kids’ books to fulfill a promise to her beloved mother-in-law, who lost her life to breast cancer months after Angela's first child was born. Follow Angela's journey—and be inspired in yours—at MyCastleHeart.com.
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Comments
  • Kate @WildTalesof...
    Reply

    Such a great list! My husband and I were just reminiscing about all our favorite Seattle holiday happenings last night. Love having this all organized in one spot–I’m thinking we need to print this and stick it on the fridge. Appreciate your comment about the Teddy Bear Suite–such a fun spot, but I thought I was the only mom last year with a kid who wanted to destroy the place instead of “ooo and ahh” over the cute stuffed animals. 🙂

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