Holiday Happenings That Illuminate Seattle + Make the Season Merry and Bright

Seattle is a city that likes to celebrate the good things in life–any season of year (and no special occasion needed). Events and festivals pack the schedule year-round, and the indoor ambience at cafes, bars and restaurants (think white twinkly lights strung from rafters and exposed brick walls) tend to be cozy and inviting, even in the dead of summer. 

Yet when winter does finally roll around, Seattle seems to emit even more of an enchanting glow. Holiday happenings in November, December and well into January help ring in the season and the New Year. Residents and visitors alike delight in joyous gatherings of food and drink that feature music and merriment, fireworks and family-friendly fun.

In addition, while local venues stage holiday-focused events in cozy spaces, popular attractions open their doors during unlikely hours. For example, the Woodland Park Zoo opens its gate at nighttime and gets illuminated with a bounty of lights. And as part of a beloved annual tradition, the city's omnipresent waterways fill with glowing boats during the annual Christmas Ship Parade. New Year's Eve brings even more pizzazz, as the city shoots off fireworks from tall buildings and barges, lights bonfires along beaches and releases enchanting paper lanterns from shores around the city.  

Salish Lodge and Spa
Photo courtesy of Salish Lodge & Spa


A scenic 30-minute drive from Seattle brings you to the charmingly rustic Salish Lodge & Spa, which offers Old-World ambience and modern elegance. Get out and enjoy nature near the lodge, whether hiking around the rushing cascades or trying...  Read More



The 5th Avenue Theatre proves a perfect holiday outing that all your loved ones can enjoy together; this winter "Annie" runs through December 30. The venue's known as one of the nation's leading musical theater companies, especially for its...  Read More

Seattle Center Winterfest


This celebration of all things winter is a Seattle mainstay and takes over the Seattle Center's grounds again this year from November 23 through January 6. There's a plethora of things to see and do, including ice skating, a holiday train...  Read More



Dating to the late 19th century, this grand venue has been restored to the glory it knew as a movie theater in the 1920s, making it a perfect destination for a special holiday-time outing. Choose from a variety of performances throughout the...  Read More

Woodland Park Zoo
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo


WildLights kicks off at Woodland Park Zoo November 23 and continues through January 5, bringing back Seattle's wildest winter holiday lights festival presented by Sound Credit Union (5:30-8:30 p.m. nightly). Wild animals and wild places get...  Read More

Pike Place Market
Photo courtesy of Magic in the Market/Richmond Public Relations


In celebration of the holiday season and its more than 500 merchants who create uniquely handcrafted gifts, Pike Place Market launched into the holiday season with Magic in the Market on Saturday, November 24 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Throughout...  Read More

The Triple Door
Photo courtesy of Angela Sterling


From December 7 though 30, The Triple Door hosts the thirteenth annual installment of "Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker," an award-winning wintertime spectacle that gives the traditional ballet a bawdy makeover. The show features...  Read More

Gingerbread Village at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel
Photo courtesy of Sheraton Seattle


The recently refreshed Sheraton Seattle Grand Hotel is a contemporary urban retreat in the heart of downtown, and every winter, its team brings one of the city's most beloved holiday traditions to the city. This year, the much-discussed...  Read More

New Year's Eve at the Space Needle
Photo courtesy of Space Needle


For 20-plus years, New Year's Eve fireworks launched from the 605-foot-tall Space Needle have illuminated the city. Now the festive fete inside is better than ever (tickets on sale now), thanks to the Needle's recent $100 million "spacelift"...  Read More

Christmas Ship Festival
Photo courtesy of Argosy Cruises


Mark your calendars for November 23 through December 23! Once again, Seattle celebrates the season in maritime fashion. The Argosy Cruises Christmas Ship festival has been a Pacific Northwest holiday tradition since 1949. Each night, a nautical...  Read More


Meet Corinne Whiting

Corinne hails from the other Washington, where she caught the travel bug early on. Corinne studied abroad in Strasbourg, France (undergrad) and in Edinburgh, Scotland (graduate school). She's...  More About Corinne