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10 Best Seattle Holiday Events for Families

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  I know it can feel a bit chaotic, but I really love this time of year. With the kids off school and some time off work, the holidays are the perfect time to go out and spend time together as a family. With parties, family gatherings, and celebrations there’s no shortage of activities during the holidays. Want a fun outing everyone can enjoy? Here are my top ten family-friendly activities and events in the Seattle area!



?? Downtown Holiday Lights and Delights 

One of the top free events in Seattle, the festivities kick off with the annual tree lighting right after Thanksgiving and continue through early January. Not only does Westlake Park offer a spectacular display of thousands of holiday lights it also offers free family-friendly entertainment with light sculptures, treats, and an ice skating rink. 

?? Ice Skating 

Speaking of ice skating, the ice skating rink at Seattle Center is located on the ground floor of the Fisher Pavillion. It’s an indoor rink so it’s a good way to beat the cold (well, sort of ;)). If you’re not a skating pro, rentals are available and are included in the cost of your entrance fee. (Note that the rink is not open on Christmas Day).

?? Seattle Winterfest 

Seattle Winterfest is a month-long party located directly under the Space Needle. Also located in downtown, Winterfest kicks off on Thanksgiving Day and takes place for five full weeks. There will be entertainment, activities, music, live performances, holiday-themed movies, food, and much more holiday merriment. It also boasts a Christmas Village and a train and on Saturdays features a sculptor making works of art out of ice. It’s a must-attend Seattle event!

?? Catch a performance or show 

From the classic Nutcracker ballet, running from November 24th-December 27th 2023 in McCaw Hall, to the Seattle Children’s Theatre putting on A Very Electric Christmas which will run from November 16th-December 31, 2023, and of course, Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol at the ACT Theatre from November 25th-December 24th, 2023. Taking in a performance or show is a great way to get a little culture while again, staying warm and dry indoors. 

?? WildLanterns at Woodland Park

If you or your kids are animal lovers then this is the holiday event for you! An event filled with large and beautiful glowing animal lanterns along paths throughout the zoo. There will be Living Northwest, Jungle Lights, African Savanna, and SeaMazium- themed sections of the experience. WildLanterns features brightly lit lantern sculptures in the form of zoo animals. You can even see some animals from the past or mythical animals such as the White Dragon or the Pegasus. In the feathered friend’s section, you’ll see brightly lit birds. The polar region displays the animals that live in the cold and snowy regions. There’s even an interactive exhibit where you can immerse yourself in the wild!

?? Sheraton Grand Seattle Gingerbread Village 

A cute, cozy indoor event, that has great photo ops and benefits charity? What more could you want?! The Gingerbread Village is located in the lobby of the Sheraton Grand Seattle Hotel and features intricately designed gingerbread houses, buildings, and villages, crafted by local culinary students and architects. The display will take place November 21, 2023 – January 1, 2024. The theme varies every year. Past themes have included “25 Years of Cheer: A Celebration of Seattle” and “May the Holidays be With You: Star Wars.” It’s also open 24 hours a day during the Holiday Season, so it’s easy to fit into your schedule. If you’d like to make an optional donation, the money goes to the Juvenile Diabetes Fund. 

?? The Teddy Bear Suite & Festival of Trees at the Fairmount Olympic Hotel

Another cozy photo-op for a good cause; start with the Festival of Trees in the lobby decorated with beautiful trees, wreaths, and gingerbread. Once you’re done marveling at the lobby, take a short elevator ride to the Teddy Bear Suite, a room covered in Christmas Decorations and Teddy Bears, and another great photo-op. Then, in the lower lobby, you can find a life-sized Gingerbread house. Don’t forget to grab a candy cane on your way out. The trees will be on display November 17- 29, 2023. Meanwhile, the Teddy Bear Suite is open daily –including Christmas– through the Holiday Season. Since the Holiday Season is the season of giving, consider a donation while you’re there, it goes to benefit the Seattle Children’s Hospital. 


?? Bellueve Square Parade

Most parades only take place on one day but the Bellevue Collection’s annual holiday parade, Snowflake Lane, runs throughout the holiday season from November 24 through December 24, 2023, so you and your family can relive the magic again and again! The procession, named Snowflake Lane, is filled with live toy soldiers, drummer boys, special characters, and holiday music, with lights marching to Lincoln Square and Bellevue Place. Opening night includes a tree-lighting ceremony. Every night at 7 pm, the festive show travels between Bellevue Square and Lincoln Square from NE 4th to NE 8th Streets complete with dazzling lights, floats, a variety of holiday characters including Santa Claus, and even falling snow! If you want a photo with Santa, Jolly Old St. Nick can be found at the Snowflake Lane Factory located at Belluve Square Court, Second Level but be sure to make reservations online first, Santa is a popular guy! 

??Westlake Park: Holiday Carousel and Shopping 

Your kids will love the old-timey carousel, and you’ll love being able to catch up on some last-minute holiday shopping. Swing by Westlake Park for a ride on the Holiday Carousel. This wooden carousel offers lots of beautiful animals for your kids to ride. It lights up so beautifully! Check the schedule of events as Westlake Park is the home of one of Seattle’s holiday markets. You can also check out the huge, lit-up Christmas Tree in front of Westlake Center.  Again, the proceeds from this event go to charity. 

?? Ride a Santa Train 

The holidays are synonymous with trains, so if trains are more you (or your child’s speed) you have several options. First, The Yuletide Express is a 25-minute train ride to Snoqualmie Falls. Ticketholders will receive two cookies and each child will get a small gift from Santa. Advance tickets are required.

There is also the two-hour Santa Limited excursion departing from the North Bend Depot. Santa will greet each child with a small gift and there will be crafts to enjoy. Kids get a cookie to take home.  Also popular is the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad’s Holiday Timber Train. Covid made this railroad temporarily close, but now they are back and better than ever! Outside the depot, the Elbe Market awaits warm beverages, and on board, passengers will receive a special holiday treat. This experience will take place on weekends from November 25 through December 17, 2023, three times daily. Winterfest also offers a Christmas Train experience. All aboard for Christmas fun! 

Whichever holiday events you choose, they’re sure to be a hit this holiday season. Perfect for family fun or great Christmas card photos.

Don’t have your holiday card photos yet? Don’t stress! A mini-session with me in my indoor studio or glass greenhouse is the perfect way to quickly get a handful of gorgeous images, just in time. Click here to see available dates & times!