Looking for family-friendly, festive, free holiday events around Seattle? Look no further than a dazzling parade on the Eastside.
Snowflake Lane is back in downtown Bellevue for its 18th year. The parade features joyful holiday tunes, glittering floats, festive characters, dazzling lights — and falling snow (regardless of the actual weather).
Getting there and getting a spot
The parade begins at 7 p.m. nightly and goes from Nov. 25-Dec. 24. Head to Bellevue Square Mall to grab a seat – or more appropriately a spot on the curbside – to view the show. The street between Bellevue Square and Lincoln Square from Northeast Fourth Street to Northeast Eighth Street is closed for the holly, jolly parade.
Larger-than-life toy soldiers, snow princesses, dancing elves and Santa all come down the street. Wave to the joyful entertainers as they twirl their way through the streets and sing and sway to holiday tunes. Bring headphones for kids who are sensitive to all the noise or if you choose to sit near the speakers.
The parade is outdoors, so be sure to pack and dress appropriately. Along with a heavy dose of patience, you’ll want warm jackets, gloves, hats, snacks and a thermos of hot chocolate. With so many people cramming the streets, I wouldn’t recommend a stroller or wagon.
Parking can be a bit of a challenge. The Southeast and Northeast parking garages are both close to the parade, but you may have to wait in traffic to get through. Parking can be found at Bellevue Square Mall or at the nearby Downtown Bellevue Park. You’ll have to go early to find a spot and walk over to the Bellevue Square. There’s also the skybridge, with entrances on either side of the mall.
Favorite parts and the crowds
My little ones loved the falling snow and cheerful characters. I was really impressed by how much time each character took to wave to kids and make magical experiences a possibility. It was really sweet to see my kiddos’ faces light up with excitement, and their cheerful voices yell above the crowd, “It’s Santa! I can’t believe it’s Santa.”
One thing we weren’t expecting was the crowd. We weren’t the only ones looking to feel the holiday cheer. The street was packed with people. Be sure to arrive early if you want to score a front-row seat. Watching the parade unobstructed makes for a much more enjoyable experience.
Insider tip: My kiddos didn’t want to leave without a balloon adorned with shimmering lights. You’ve been warned! If you don’t want to disappoint them, you may want to bring cash. The balloons and light sabers were $10, and most vendors along the parade route only took cash or Venmo.
Make a day of it
If you’re looking for things to do before or after, Bellevue Square has an abundance of restaurants, shops and activities for kids. While you’re at Bellevue Square, check another holiday tradition off your list and get photos with Santa at Snowflake Lane Factory. Located inside the mall on the second floor, you won’t miss the towering, sparkly tree that sits as a beacon below the festively adorned Snowflake Lane Factory. High above, suspended from the ceiling are nine reindeer.
If you want to snap a photo with Santa, be sure to make a reservation. Lines tend to get long, and you’ll want to get a spot ahead of time.
Once you’ve watched the parade and posed for photos with Santa, you’ll have probably worked up an appetite. There are plenty of options: Cheesecake Factory is a stone’s throw from where the parade begins, or you can head north on Bellevue Square Way Northeast to Cactus. There are plenty more restaurants, both streetside and inside the various shopping complexes.
Whatever your holiday festivities include this year, I highly recommend Snowflake Lane. With so many things to see and do, it’s worth the trip (and crowd). And, best of all, it’s free!
Know before you go
- Snowflake Lane happens through December 24 at 7 p.m.
- The parade is located all along Bellevue Way, near the Bellevue Collection mall
- Arrive early for parking and to stake out your spot on the sidewalk
- Event is not stroller/wagon friendly
- Make a day of it and enjoy photos with Santa and dinner at any one of the restaurants in the mall or in the surrounding area