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Best Things to Do in December in Seattle

Seasonal, holiday & hockey happenings brighten Seattle's winter days and nights


Seattle is a city that likes to celebrate the good things in life, in any season (with no special occasion needed). During a typical year, events and festivals pack the calendar each month, and the indoor ambiance at cafes, bars and restaurants – think white twinkly lights strung from rafters and exposed brick walls – tends to be extra-cozy and inviting in the wintertime. 

This year, with a celebrated high vaccination rate in King County, the Emerald City is poised to welcome back international travelers in time for the festive holiday season. While many local theaters and venues once again stage concerts and productions, the zoo and sites like Pike Place Market and Bellevue's Snowflake Lane get illuminated by a magical bevy of lights and offer safe, alfresco fun. This winter, Seattle also celebrates one of its newest and most anticipated additions – its NHL hockey team, the Seattle Kraken, and their dazzling, sustainable arena located in Seattle Center. 

To learn about more holiday happenings, seasonal hotel packages and Seattle staycation deals, visit seattleholidays.com. 

*Due to fluctuating statewide mandates, go online to find the most up-to-date info on each site's openings and hours. 


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Golden Gardens
Photo courtesy of Corinne Whiting

West of Ballard, visitors find one of the locals' favorite finds, in any season: Golden Gardens beach. Located on Puget Sound, this popular public park offers extraordinary views of the water and nearby Olympic Mountains. The park includes wetlands, beaches, hiking trails, as well as picnic and playground areas. The park is bisected by the BNSF Scenic Subdivision railway line. Golden Gardens offers wanders along a rugged coastline, hikes through forest trails, sunbathing on sandy beaches (in a warmer season), fishing from a pier and a boat launch. The park is also home to an off-leash area for dogs in the upper northern portion of the park.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: West of Ballard, visitors find one of the locals' favorite finds in any season: Golden Gardens beach, which offers tranquil views of Puget Sound.

Corinne's expert tip: If you're craving a bite or beverage after your beach stroll, consider Ballard breweries like Stoup, takeout from one of the many venues lining Ballard Ave or the heated patio of Brimmer & Heeltap, where seasonal specials will keep you coming back for more.

Read more about Golden Gardens →


The Works Seattle
Photo courtesy of The Works Seattle

Interact with inspiring locals while making art, cooking, learning new things and connecting over shared interests in a welcoming, Capitol Hill space. This nurturing community hub, which started as a DIY school for adults, is thrilled to be offering in-person, experience-based experiences once again. (You can order at-home DIY kits if you prefer, too.) While many December classes get in the holiday spirit with wreath- and card-making activities, other workshops focus on topics from cheeseboards and tea blending to watercolor painting.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Interact with inspiring locals while making art, cooking and learning new things during workshops held in a welcoming, Capitol Hill space.

Corinne's expert tip: If you're unable to attend in-person classes, check out The Works' at-home DIY Kits that come along with materials, detailed instructions and a video to walk you through the projects.

Read more about The Works Seattle →


Discovery Park dazzles at any time of year. Situated on Magnolia Bluff overlooking Puget Sound, this expansive urban park--the largest in Seattle--offers two scenic miles of beach trails and nine miles of winding footpaths. Ostensibly a bluff-top reserve, Discovery Park protects a remarkable urban wilderness and is a great place for nature-watching. Also located within the park: a marine reserve and The Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center (currently closed), which typically features art and cultural exhibits. An 1881 lighthouse, the oldest in the area, can also be found here. Offering breathtaking views of both the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges, the park's remote site includes two miles of protected tidal beaches as well as open meadow lands, dramatic sea cliffs, forest groves, active sand dunes, thickets and streams.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Discovery Park, on Magnolia Bluff overlooking Puget Sound, is an expansive urban park featuring two miles of beach trails and nine miles of winding footpaths.

Corinne's expert tip: Support a newer arm of The United Indians of All Tribes Foundation and Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center (located in Discovery Park) by shopping for Native American art from Sacred Circle Gift Shop (both online or in their Ballard gallery).

Read more about Discovery Park →


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The Bellevue Collection
Photo courtesy of The Bellevue Collection

On the Eastside, The Bellevue Collection returns to the roots of its annual, festive Snowflake Lane experience. Think colorful lights, joyful music, intermittent snowfall, between Bellevue Square and Lincoln Square, and a nightly parade lined with performers and holiday floats that happens at 7 p.m. from November 26 to December 24. For more information, visit snowflakelane.com. When guests book a Snowflake Lane Getaway at one of three local hotels, they'll receive a $100 Bellevue Collection Gift Card for each night they stay, good at all Bellevue Collection shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. (Also, enjoy access to a VIP Passport with offers and specials upon arrival, plus receive an additional $20 Bellevue Collection Gift Card for becoming a Be. Rewards member. Each getaway package includes a pass for complimentary admission for four to the nearby KidsQuest Children's Museum.)

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: From November 26 to December 24, The Bellevue Collection presents Snowflake Lane: colorful lights, joyful music, intermittent snowfall and a nightly parade at 7 p.m.

Corinne's expert tip: To watch the nightly parade, gather on the sidewalks between Bellevue Square and Lincoln Square, from NE 4th to NE 8th streets. Park in any of the free parking garages nearby.

Read more about The Bellevue Collection →


Paramount Theatre
Photo courtesy of Hip Hop Nutcracker by Tim Norris

This year Seattle Theatre Group brings many in-person seasonal productions and other inspiring events back to The Paramount, Moore and Neptune Theatre. Shows like "The Hip Hop Nutcracker featuring Kurtis Blow, Virtual Student Matinee," however, can still be enjoyed from the comfort of home, via virtual streaming. At Paramount, check out musical events like Thundercat (December 4), Bela Fleck & Friends (December 8), "Nirvana - Live at the Paramount 30th Anniversary Screening" (December 12) and Courtney Barnett (December 14), comedian Jim Gaffigan (December 15 through 19). STG & Broadway at The Paramount present "My Fair Lady" from December 28 through January 2.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Seattle Theatre Group brings seasonal and otherwise inspiring productions to The Paramount, Moore and Neptune Theatre (a few streamed to the comfort of your home).

Corinne's expert tip: This holiday season, consider supporting the arts and our stages by donating to STG, a nonprofit that aims to "create enriching experiences in the arts, engage diverse communities, and steward historic theatres." After 17 months without shows, the doors of the historic Paramount, Moore and Neptune Theatres have finally reopened. Be sure to read up on mask and vaccine mandates before arriving.

Read more about Paramount Theatre →


The Triple Door
Photo courtesy of The Triple Door

As part of a favorite wintertime tradition, The Triple Door once again hosts "Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker," an award-winning spectacle that gives the traditional ballet a bawdy makeover. Lily Verlaine and Jasper McCann bring back their award-winning wintertime show from December 8 through 29, featuring the return of Verlaine's Sugar Plum Fairy, the light-juggling magic of Babette La Fave, the lovable Snowflakes and "the swingiest band in the Land, The Nutcracker Nonette." The production also features top-notch dance talent, opulent bespoke costuming and original choreography from classically trained, internationally recognized artist Verlaine. Loyal fans are thrilled to return to this intimate downtown dinner theatre space for in-person concerts and shows, plus tasty food and drink brought to them in their assigned seats.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The Triple Door's tradition of showcasing award-winning spectacle "Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker" returns from December 8 through 29.

Corinne's expert tip: Read up on mask and vaccination mandates before arriving at the venue. Visit www.bloodworksnw.org/music to see how The Triple Door is helping to celebrate "the power of music, togetherness and the critical need to replenish our blood supply in a time when demand for blood is at an all-time high." (The organization's goal is to reach 10,000 new blood donors before the end of the year.)

Read more about The Triple Door →


Seattle Center Winterfest
Photo courtesy of Visit Seattle/Joe Crecca

Throughout the five weeks of Winterfest at Seattle Center (November 26 through December 31), those in search of uplifting seasonal celebrations will find both in-person and virtual cultural performances, activities highlighting holiday traditions and kid-centric activities. During these weeks, connect to a world of sparkling lights, amusements and spirited entertainment, between November 26 and December 31. Be sure not to miss the Winter Train & Village (a late 19th-century model train display, installed inside the Armory Food & Event Hal) ice sculpting demos by master cavers that take place every Saturday at noon and the annual campus lighting display, too.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: This year Seattle Center Winterfest returns in-person (with virtual options as well) for five weeks of festive fun that feature performances, ice sculpting and more.

Corinne's expert tip: Watch master carvers Chan Kitburi and Janson Iwakami Saturdays at noon, as they create new ice visions right before your eyes.

Read more about Seattle Center Winterfest →


Woodland Park Zoo
Photo courtesy of Woodland Park Zoo

The Woodland Park Zoo's WildLanterns returns, featuring large-scale animal and nature-scape lanterns representing wild places from around the globe. Presented by BECU, WildLanterns offers a larger-than-life, immersive event that "wows" every guest, as hundreds of thousands of colorful LED (energy efficient) lights illuminate trees and landscapes found throughout the property. To sweeten the deal even further, festive food offerings will be available for purchase at several locations around the zoo. The experience is available Tuesday through Sunday, from 4 to 8:30 p.m., through January 30, 2022, and is closed Mondays (except for December 20 and 27), November 25 and December 24 and 25.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Woodland Park Zoo's WildLanterns brings a bright and immersive experience for the whole family that continues through January 30.

Corinne's expert tip: The experience is closed Mondays (except for December 20 and 27), November 25 and December 24 and 25. Read up on the latest mask and vaccine mandates before booking your ticket.

Read more about Woodland Park Zoo →


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

Pike Place Market captures the magic of the holidays throughout the season with festive decor and local vendors and artisans ready to sell their beautiful and delicious goods. The Market's annual holiday celebration takes place November 27 and is filled with joyful entertainment, a visit from Santa Claus, craft vendors and Market holiday lights, which remain illuminated through December. Visit https://pikeplacemarketfoundation.org/charitablemarketplace/products/ to learn about the Pike Place Market Foundation's CharitableMarketplace.org, which features 100-plus local businesses and products that all support Pike Place Market's small business recovery program. (Care to send a loved one, anywhere in the nation, some of the magic of Place Place? Order a Savor Seattle box, which features regional eats and treats, and helps support local vendors and farmers at the same time.)

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Pike Place Market becomes festively illuminated during the holiday months, proving the perfect spot for gift-shopping while supporting local vendors and farmers.

Corinne's expert tip: While visiting Pike Place, be sure to check out brand-new, chef-driven grocery concept Kitchen & Market (think fresh goods, meal kits and recipe ideas, too). Nearby at Pacific Place, from December 17 to 27, Fleurs de Villes NOËL brings a fresh floral celebration to help downtown get even more in the holiday spirit.

Read more about Pike Place Market →


Seattle Kraken
Photo courtesy of Seattle Kraken

The Seattle Kraken is a brand-new, Seattle-based professional ice hockey team that competes in the National Hockey League as a member of the Pacific Division in the Western Conference. Root them on during energy-filled home games at the groundbreaking Climate Pledge Arena, a dazzling, eco-friendly venue that aims to be "the most progressive, responsible and sustainable arena in the world." This multi-purpose live entertainment venue, built for NHL hockey, live music and events, WNBA and future NBA basketball games, can be found not far from the Space Needle on the 74-acre Seattle Center campus. With the mantra of "Release the Kraken" already reverberating around town, and tens of thousands of fans donning the hues of Kraken blue, it's already apparent that this city was ready for a new hockey team to support and celebrate.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Root on the Seattle Kraken, the city's recently-debuted professional ice hockey team that plays home games at the dazzling and groundbreaking Climate Pledge Arena.

Corinne's expert tip: Brush up on your knowledge of the sport at the Pacific Science Center, thanks to the world premiere of "HOCKEY: Faster Than Ever," an interactive touring exhibition focusing on the science, history and culture of hockey. To study up on venue trivia, learn highly impressive facts about the Climate Pledge Arena at: https://climatepledgearena.com/sustainability/

Read more about Seattle Kraken →


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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

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