The winter season is full of family-friendly fun, with a variety of holiday events in 2023. Here’s your guide to holiday family fun with light shows, family theater and concerts, holiday markets, Chanukah parties, and dazzling lighting displays throughout the Puget Sound region.
Check back often for updates – we’re adding new activities daily.
Go to our Seattle’s Child Events Calendar for more holiday fun.
Holiday Events: Festivals
Join in this traditional Indian holiday celebrating the triumph of light over darkness. Enjoy music, food, demonstrations, art, and more at the Armory at Seattle Center. November 11, Free.
Celebrating its 46th year, the Fairmont Olympic Hotel will host gorgeous displays of more than 20 decked-out trees. The trees will be sold, with proceeds going to Seattle Children’s Hospital. November 17-November 29. FREE
For over 70 years the dazzling Christmas Ship Parade has been a much-loved Seattle holiday tradition. The Spirit of Seattle, Argosy Cruises’ official Christmas ship sails the waters around Seattle with a parade of privately owned decorated boats following along. Each sailing includes a choir performance and a reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Watch and listen to the caroling from local beaches for FREE or ride aboard the official Christmas ship ($40-74, kids age 3 and younger free.) November 24-December 23, afternoon and evening departures.
The Winterfest parade goes through Kent Station and downtown Kent starting at 4:30 p.m. with a 5:30 p.m. tree lighting, Town Square Park at 5:30 p.m. December 2.
Play ski-ball, join in holiday karaoke, games and more. Grab a cup of hot chocolate pumped from an old gas pump. November 24-December 31. Tickets sold online.
Celebrate your holidays with a trip to Winterfest at the Seattle Center where you’ll find a train village, a holiday market, a variety of weekend entertainment and a New Year’s Celebration. Don’t miss the ice artists carving spectacular sculptures on opening day November 24th at the International Fountain. November 24-December 31. FREE
Snowflakes fall to the ground as a parade of costumed characters and magical floats glide down the street spreading holiday cheer. You might need to show up well before the 7 p.m. showtime to get a good viewing spot. November 24-December 24. FREE
Little ones are invited to dance their hearts out to a performance of “The Nutcracker,” then collect candy and construct a gingerbread masterpiece on their own or attend a workshop where pros will help them put together their own gingerbread house creations to take home. Ballerina Gingerbread Workshop, November 24, $110 per group of six. Classic Gingerbread Workshop, November 25, $75 per group of six.
Visit the Sheraton Grand Seattle this year and see the spectacular gingerbread house village made by architects, master builders, and chefs. Displays will be ready for viewing end of November through January 1. Free, but donations help the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. FREE
Music, dancing, shopping, and Santa too! It’s all happening at the Washington State Fair Events Center! November 30-December 3, $10-$12, children 11 and younger free.
Head over to Pike Place Market and cheer teams of carolers roving the streets as they compete to raise money for the Pike Market Senior Center and Food Bank. More than 10,000 spectators are expected, so plan ahead and get there early. December 1. FREE
The spectacularly lighted Santa Parade will wind its way down Meridian St in Puyallup. There will be bands, floats, walking units and more. December 2, Christmas Market open 12 p.m.- 7 p.m.; Santa Parade starts at 5 pm.
Visit Santa in the historic Chinatown-International District at Wing Luke Museum. Pay homage and reconnect with a space that is the foundation of many cultures and heritages. Event is open and welcome to all. Saturday, December 9, noon-3 p.m. Advanced tickets are recommended to get a time slot. Walk-up appointments available on a limited basis. $12/one print and digital access.
The Issaquah Reindeer Festival at Cougar Mountain Zoo is a unique holiday experience. Visit Santa, Rudolph, and all his friends. December 1-23 and December 26-30. Book online for timed entry, reservations open November 1.
Choo-choose your favorite train model at the 27th Annual Train Festival at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. Learn about railroad history, sing songs, watch demonstrations, and see what it takes to be a rail engineer. Great for all ages. Festival exhibit included in museum admission, $14/adult, $11/student. December 22-January 1.
Purchase your tickets to the “Holiday Magic” event at Washington State Fairgrounds and enjoy interactive exhibits, light displays, an ice rink, food, shopping, and more. December 1-3, 8-10, 15-17, and 20-23, 4:30-9:30 p.m. Purchase tickets online for the best pricing.
Take an evening stroll amid the soft holiday lights surrounding the Pacific Bonsai Museum’s collection of trees. Stay for holiday treats and more. December 16. FREE (donation welcomed)
Santa doesn’t just fly with his reindeer, he also dives into the deep. Watch him swim gracefully in the 120,000 gallon Window on Washington Habitat at the Aquarium. He’ll stop at the window for photos and a wave hello. December 17, 18, noon and 3 p.m. December 24 at noon only. Event included in price of admission.
Cozy up in your car as you drive through more than 300 elaborate displays with thousands of sparkling lights. Choose a weekday, early in the season, to avoid crowds. This year a preview show will be held November 17-19. Holiday showing begins November 24-January 1. $15-$20. Watch for $10 discount days.
Snuggle in with some cuddly bears for a picture-perfect holiday outing. Every year, in partnership with Seattle Children’s Hospital, the Fairmont fills a hotel suite with teddy bears. Dates TBD. FREE
Wander in the garden to enjoy magical holiday fun, replete with thousands of glowing lights, the model train village and a visit with Santa and in December on Saturdays and Sundays, 3 p.m. – 5 p.m., live holiday music. November 11-December 31. FREE
The creators of Wild Lanterns have put together a brand-new show this year with many fan favorites making a return. The theme this year is Land of Winter Wonders and this magical holiday family fun promises to dazzle visitors with large light displays and interactive areas. November 10-January 14. Prices vary by day, peak weekend is $36.95/adult and $31.95/child (3-12), 2 and younger free.
With 800,000 lights, the Point Defiance Zoo transforms its exhibits and pathways into a sparkly winter wonderland with lighted classics like the octopus, flame tree, and tiger face. Don’t forget to meet the groovy goats, then warm up around the fire while roasting s’mores. November 24-January 1, $7-$18, children 2 and younger Free.
Take a guided solstice walk on a wintry day and enjoy the gardens at Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island. Stop at the Residence for festive fun– decorations, photo opportunities, and community-oriented activities. Family solstice walks will be held on December 18 and 20 and silent solstice walks will be on December 19 and 21. Time tickets are required, $22/adult, $5-$10/child, Free/child 4 and under.
Holiday Events: Train Rides
The 2-hour Santa Limited starts from North Bend Depot and takes kids to meet Santa. Weekends, November 26 to December 17. $38 per person (ages 2 and older). The shorter 25-minute excursion is currently sold out.
All aboard the Polar Express for a 45-minute round trip train ride to see Santa Claus at the North Pole.. Hear the story of the first gift of Christmas, have hot cocoa and cookies, and see Santa. Presented by The Chehalis-Centralia Railroad. Weekends, November 11-December 23. $60 per person, kids 2 and under free. Currently sold out.
Holiday Events: Concerts and Theater
Bring the family together at Seattle Rep’s “Little Women.” Set during the Civil War, the play follows the March sisters as they discover love, joy, loss, and the importance of having each other. Recommended for ages 10 and older. November 10-December 17, $20-$100.
Follow the journey of a young bird named Max and his family as they migrate south for the winter. A gust of wind blows Max off course and takes him to the North Pole, away from his family. Join Max on his travels as he meets various holiday-inspired characters while trying to get back on course. November 16-December 31. $25 – $30
Featuring gifted dancers and artists from around the world, the Paramount brings this classic holiday story to the stage. Indulge in jaw-dropping acrobatics, larger-than-life puppets and a hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind set. November 19, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Starting at $30.
Enjoy the 90-minute story of Ebenezer Scrooge and the visitors that lead him to gratitude and giving at the Allen Theatre. Suggested for children 5 and older. November 24-December 24. Prices vary. Check for pay-what-you-can options.
The classic holiday story of Clara and the nutcracker that comes to life, featuring Tchaikovsky’s magical music. November 24-December 27 at McCaw Hall. Starting at $29.
The performers are back with their annual holiday tour at Climate Pledge Arena. This year’s show, “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve – the Best of TSO & More,” follows the journey of a runaway who breaks into an abandoned vaudeville theater on Christmas Eve. Shows are on November 25 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Prices vary,
The cartoon classic comes alive in this delightful musical version. November 30-December 23. Starting at $10.
Enjoy a whole lot of festive singing with this joyful chorus. Now offering an abbreviated 1-hour show perfect for kids with holiday sing-alongs and plenty of dancing. Performances at various stages around town. December 1-23. Starting at $40.
‘Twas tells the famous poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Clarke Moore, but our version goes beyond the humans involved, sharing the excitement and the stage with run-away mice, hungry cats, ‘hoofing’ reindeer, and The Big Guy himself. December 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17. Times and casts vary.
The nationally acclaimed Roosevelt Jazz band presents the Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s Jazz Nutcracker, a fanciful and swingin’ take on the Tchaikovsky suite. This special Seattle holiday tradition is returning for its 24th year to the Roosevelt High School Performing Arts Theatre. December 2, 7:30 p.m. and $20 for adults, $15 for students/seniors, and group rates available. Saturday, December 2 at 7:30 pm, Sunday, December 3 at 2:00 pm
Town Hall Seattle will come alive the first night of Chanukah with the soul-stirring melodies and foot-stomping rhythms that have earned The Klezmatics a Grammy award. December 7, tickets $20-$25 (free for ages 22 and under).
The heartwarming holiday tale “Elf” will be shown on the giant movie screen while the score is played live at McCaw Hall at the Seattle Center. December 29-30, starting at $65.
Holiday Events: Lights
Tree Lighting Ceremonies
Rain or shine, head to your local tree-lighting ceremony. You might find a parade, sip hot chocolate, and always will catch the holiday magic. Arrive early to stake out a prime spot for viewing. Dates and locations vary. FREE
Holiday Light Shows
Located an hour north of Seattle, this drive-thru light show in Stanwood is a must. As you drive, turn on the radio and listen to the display guide, Bruce the Spruce, as he takes you through each light display. New this year, two activity stops along the route. November 24-26, November 30-December 3, 7-10, 14-17, 20-23, 26-30. $32/per car.
As you follow the pathways through the garden you’ll discover a variety of brightly lit displays, plant and animal shapes, rock formations, butterflies, bees, and birds. Be prepared: It’s a 1-mile walk through the Garden d’Lights. November 25-December 31. $8/person, children 10 and younger free. Watch for $5 nights, weekdays during the first two weeks of the show.
A Bothell tradition: Hundreds of thousands of lights will cover an entire church building and will be synchronized to music. Stop into the pavilion for warm cookies, treats, a winter village and train exhibit. Weekends in December, the church will also host Christmas concerts open to everyone – see the website for details. December 1-24, 6-9 p.m. FREE
Head to the Evergreen Arboretum and Gardens in Everett to experience a wonderland of twinkling lights. Admission is free, but bring a can of food for the food drive. December 1-31. FREE
Holiday Events: Markets
Browse the aisles of vendors, snack at food shops, and support local businesses. November 4, 11, 18 and December 2, 9 and 16. FREE
Get a head start on your holiday shopping and support local artists. Featuring handmade, upcycled items for purchase. Hosting more than 7,000 visitors, so be sure to get there early for the best selection. Renton Community Center, November 17-18. FREE
The Makers Market is where you’ll find an array of gifts made by local artisans. Spend the day shopping, listening to live music, indulging in foods from around the world, and more. November 18. FREE
Wander through the museum-turned-market, as you explore Nordic dance, treats, and music. Shop for one-of-a-kind gifts for loved ones. Celebrating its 46th year, the Nordic Museum hosts more than 30 local retailers and artists, while exposing visitors to Nordic holidays and traditions. November 18-19. Members: free, Non-members: $10, ages 12-18, $5, 12 and younger free. Ticket includes admission to the museum.
Grab your grocery bags and head to this market just in time for Thanksgiving. Buy your produce and other supplies for your holiday meals, then browse the selection of handmade items. November 19 and December 17, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. FREE
Looking for a gift for a loved one or a little something for yourself? Go to the Geek. This craft expo features items handmade by local vendors. November 24-26, Hangar 30 at Magnuson Park. Advance tickets: $2.
Inspired by traditional German Christmas markets, this month-long celebration takes place at the Fisher Pavilion and South Fountain Lawn at Seattle Center. Browse aisles of artisan crafts, gifts, traditional food and drink, interactive installations, seasonal decorations, and more. Join the event newsletter for more details. November 24-December 24. Tickets required, adults $17.51, children 6 and under FREE
Make memories at Pike Place Market with more than 9 acres of shopping and holiday cheer. Don’t miss the tree lighting ceremony at 5 p.m. November 25, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. FREE
Located at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall, this winter show is dedicated to local artisans and crafters. Find decor for your home, a unique gift for a loved one, or explore the latest trends in art. Over 150+ vendors. December 1-3. Friday is a preview ticketed night, 5 – 9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. FREE
The Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Association will be spreading holiday cheer with this year’s holiday market. More than 120 artists will share their unique gifts for purchase. Also included: a quilt raffle, card art sale, entertainment, and good eats. December 2-3. Cost: $6 and a food donation to Family Works Greenwood Food Bank.
Visit and support the dozens of artists’ booths at this winter market. Go shopping for that extra-special gift, from jewelry to prints and much more. December 7 – 8, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. FREE
Head over to the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center for the annual Native Art Market. A variety of Native American art, jewelry, crafts, textiles, and other authentic gifts will be on display and for purchase. Free entry, but go early because parking is limited. December 15-17. FREE.
Farther Afield: Holiday Events
Drive over to Leavenworth where the town celebrates the holidays with more than half a million lights, music and entertainment, holiday characters, kids’ activities, roasting chestnuts, Santa photos and more. November 24-December 24. Free.
Lights at the lake, Santa sightings, holiday shopping, and winter sports that include skiing, snowshoeing, sledding and more – that’s what you’ll find at Chelan in Eastern Washington during the holiday season. November 24-January 1.