One of the best things about living in Seattle is the temperate climate. More often than not, you won’t be caught out in the snow and ice miserably scraping your car off in the early mornings. Seattle is on the Puget Sound and protected by mountains and water on all sides keeping it cool and cloudy for most of the winter with occasional rain showers. It’s the perfect weather to enjoy soups and teas while cuddling up in a flannel blanket next to the fireplace without the hassle of shoveling snow, scraping ice and paying exorbitant prices for winter heating bills. If it is snow that you love, it’s a very short drive away to enjoy beautiful skiing, snowboarding and sledding.
There are always loads of things to do in Seattle and the winter is no different. The cool temperatures make winter outings and holiday light shows more enjoyable.
1. Seattle Winter Fest
Seattle Center Winterfest is a large, family event beginning November 24th through January 1st, times and dates vary. Events include ice sculpting, a large model train set with a turn of the century winter village, ice skating rink, and over seventeen free, live performances including music, dancers, carolers and comedy. Winterfest is a great event for children, and includes artistic performances from local school children.
2. Light Up The Night Events
Light up the Holidays by attending Wild Lights at the Woodland Park Zoo. This event takes place from November 24th – January 1, 2018 (closed on December 24 &25) from 5:30pm-8:30pm. The entire zoo is lit up with 600,000 lights. The lights are expertly set up to replicate locations and animals. A large indoor space boasts fake snow for winter play, real reindeer, a beautiful antique carousel and Christmas carolers. Families can also enjoy a rare look at the nocturnal animals while visiting the zoo at night. The zoo puts on an ongoing scavenger hunt to find all of the peacock themed lights with a chance for a prize for people who find them all. Photos with Santa Claus are available, as well as a zoo themed gift shop for unique holiday gifts. For the adult visitors a new mulled wine and beer garden is available every evening.
If you reside in South Seattle or Tacoma, Zoo Lights at the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma is a closer option. This event takes place from November 24th – January 1 (closed on December 24 & 25) from 5:30-8:30, although it has many of the same attractions as Wild Lights, Zoo Lights specializes in lights displaying marine life including a one-hundred-foot octopus! A shark tank and aquarium are open and lit up for the event with thousands of marine animals. Santa Claus and an elf dive with sharks (see times and schedules). Camel rides are available for children and adults as well as an after dark petting zoo where young visitors will have the opportunity to feed goats and see meerkats and other animals up close.
Leavenworth is a beautiful, Bavarian style, mountain town located 134 miles East of Seattle. Open year round to look around and go shopping, but for the first three weekends in December this town comes to life as a wonderful Bavarian Christmas town, starting on Fridays from 4-9 pm, Saturday and Sundays from 11-6. Leavenworth is a wonderful area to get into the holiday season with snow, skiing, snowboarding, and sledding. The town creates a beautiful and traditional Christmas setting with tree lighting ceremonies, over half a million lights throughout town, live Christmas music and warm mulled wine with spices to warm you up. A train to Leavenworth is available leaving from Seattle for a gorgeous ride through the snowy mountains adding a beautiful, memorable Holiday experience.
4. Magic In The Market
Magic in the Market is on Nov. 25th from 11-5:30 and takes place in Pike Place Market. The Market hosts a Holiday party with a tree lighting, Santa Claus, gingerbread cookie decorating for kids under 12, caroling and hot cider and chocolate sales throughout the market. Enjoy festive performances by live musicians
- S.T.R.U.M. (1-2:30 pm in the Atrium & 3-4 pm on Pike Place at the Market clock)
- Green River Choir (2:30-3 pm on the MarketFront plaza)
- Sundae + Mr. Goessl (4:30-5:30 pm on Pike Place at the Market clock)
- Purchase fresh cider, hot cocoa and other beverages from farmers and merchants on Pike Place while you shop the Market for seasonal foods and locally made gifts
- Pick out the perfect holiday tree from Growing Washington and wreaths from local farmers on Pike Place
- Santa will lead a countdown to the lighting of the 20-foot holiday tree and lights throughout the Market at 5 pmPLUS! New this year is Stockings and Stuffers, a holiday event providing Market visitors the opportunity to purchase handmade stockings and small gifts to stuff them with. “Stockings and Stuffers” will be in the MarketFront Pavilion until 6 pm. Additionally, artist Gina Karaba will be doing live glass blowing demonstrations.Join in the fun and invite your friends to the kick off to the holiday season
5. Snowflake Lane in Bellevue
It’s always snowing on Snowflake Lane in Bellevue November 24th– December 24th every night at 7 pm. Snowflake Lane is a wonderfully choreographed parade of dancers, drummers and performers that come to perform shows for families amongst twinkling holiday lights and 46 snow machines!
6. Polar Bear Plunge
You can be freezin’ for a reason at the Polar Plunge in Golden Gardens Park to benefit Special Olympics on Februrary 3rd as a super plunger where you’d plunge into the icy water once every hour for a 24 hour period! If you’d like to benefit the cause, but only jump once February 4th is the day for one time plungers.
7. Go Skiing
Winter sports are huge in the North West with many options to choose from. Beautiful ski resorts are not far away, whether you prefer downhill or cross country skiing, snowboarding, tubing or snowshoeing you don’t have to drive far from the Seattle area to find them.
The Summit at Snoqualmie
8. Timber Music Festival
Timber Music Festival in Leavenworth January 26th – 27th. Who says music festivals must be in the summer? Leavenworth Washington gives us something great to look forward to in the dead of winter. Every year one weekend in January visitors can enjoy discounted ski lift passes or watch live music at local venues during the days. At night is when the big bands come out for 21 and over skiers to enjoy the winter evenings with toasty hot toddies at the Hot Toddy Garden in the Festhalle.
9. Seattle Running Events
Give yourself the gift of health this year, while staying in shape through the holidays and joining one of the many of the Seattle runs this winter.
Seattle Marathon November 26, 2017 at 7:15 am. 15,000 runners run a half or full marathon with pretty views of Downtown Seattle and Lake Washington.
Resolution Run January 1st 2017 starting at 10:30 am. Start your new year off right with the Resolution Run, a fun 5k run with an optional polar plunge into Lake Washington. Enjoy New Year’s Day after the run with an open beer garden, wood fires, free chili and warm drinks.
For a more complete guide of Seattle races go to:
Seattle Run Guides
10. New Years Party and the EMP Museum
One of the largest parties in Seattle on New Years Eve is thrown at the MoPop Museum, with access to all of it’s pop culture exhibits, music, architecture and technology on December 31. Celebrated with over 3,000 people, there are several stages with live bands and DJ’s, stand up comedy with different comedians performing all night, a free pre-party for singles to meet friends to spend the evening with. The museum boasts of twenty-five bars, VIP tickets available to exclusive party areas, the largest LED screen in the world and a firework show underneath the space needle!
Extra Bonus Item that you should check out in Seattle this winter!
11. Seattle’s SantaCon – Pub Crawl December 16th.
Join over 1,000 other people dressed in Santa Claus costumes on Saturday, December 16th for SantaCon and enjoy parading publicly on streets and inside locations in cities around the world. The focus is on spontaneity and creativity, while having a good time and spreading cheer and goodwill. This is much more than a pub crawl, proceeds will be donated to Mary’s Place, our featured charity, which empowers homeless women, children, and families to reclaim their lives.