[get out] holiday activities in seattle

The holidays are upon us! While I’m sure that businesses are thrilled that their major shopping season is in full swing, I find it difficult to maintain my holiday spirit for almost 30 days.

Every year, my friends and I celebrate”Elizmas”, a made-up holiday that we created in celebration of my friend Elizabeth’s birthday. She really loves Christmastime, so we always combine her birthday festivities with fun holiday-themed activities. The rules for Elizmas are simple: it always takes place on the actual day of her birthday, all activities must be Christmasy, we always wear fun holiday hats and drink spiked hot beverages.

Below is a list of holiday activities that we’ve done for Elizmas or at least thought about doing. Lots of them are free and easy – others require that you purchase tickets in advance (we’re not very good at that). How do you get into the holiday spirit?

Free Events:

Westlake Center Tree Lighting Ceremony – Day after Thanksgiving

The lights go on the day after Thanksgiving and thousands of people pack into downtown to watch it happen. This year it’s set to a new musical light show which will happen on the hour from 4-10pm every night of the week!

Carousel in Westlake Center

The $3 you’ll spend to ride the carousel in Westlake Center will go directly to Treehouse, a great organization that works to give foster children a brighter and happier future. We LOVE riding this thing, it’s so silly but so so so fun.

Holiday Snow in Pacific Place

Every day at 6pm in December, it “snows” at the Pacific Place Mall! You’ll have to go see it to believe it – this is where we’ve started every single Elizmas-past. It’s a great meeting place before you start your downt0wn holiday tour and there are often live choir performances and other entertainment.

Gingerbread Houses at The Sheraton

The Sheraton Hotel plays host to some truly epic gingerbread houses that are built by local architecture firms. This year’s theme for the houses is “Once Upon a Time” so you can expect to see lots of houses inspired by fairy-tales.

Teddy Bear Suite & Festival of Trees at the Fairmont

The Fairmont Hotel is one of the nicest hotels in Seattle, and they really dress it up for the holidays. Pop in to see their magnificent tree displays and check out the (kind of bizarre) teddy bear suite – an entire room that’s just stuffed with teddy bears. Great activity for the kiddos… we felt kind of weird being there as adults.

The Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition

This competition is a benefit for the Pike Place Market Senior Center and Food Bank. Caroling teams sing their hearts out on street corners in downtown Seattle and then perform in a sing-off!

Winterfest at the Seattle Center

Head to the Seattle Center for ice skating, ice sculptures and another ride on a carousel! Then head over to the Armory for a snack – have you been in there lately? All sorts of delectable goodness awaits you – Skillet Diner, Pie, Bigfood, Eltana… the list goes on and on. The ice skating rink is cash only, but last time we went it was a free evening sponsored by a local company. Check out the website for more information!

Buy Tickets in Advance

The Nutcracker

Check out Pacific NW Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker, December 7 – 29.

Christmas Ship Festival

Enjoy the spectacle of the season aboard one of the Christmas ships! You can either join me on a LivingSocial Ugly Sweater booze cruise or hop aboard on any other night, but you’ll join a host of other ships on your cruise around the Puget Sound and lakes. Advance ticket purchases are required and check online for dates. You can also see the ships from land – head to the beach and build a bonfire and watch the ships float by!

Ride the Ducks Holiday Light Tour

Even though this Duck ride stays on land, you’ll be singing Christmas carols along with your driver as you pass all sorts of holiday light displays around the downtown area. We took the tour a few years ago and had an entire duck boat to ourselves and the best driver ever! Tours depart from the Westlake Center, so you can take advantage of all the free activities listed above before or after you hop aboard.

Rent a horse drawn carriage from Emerald County Carriage

This was one of the most fun things we’ve ever done for Elizmas. We rented a carriage for a couple of hours, dressed up in fur coats and drank spiked hot cocoa and rode around downtown Seattle singing Christmas carols at everyone on the streets. I’d highly recommend getting a group of friends together and doing this because oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh!

Black Nativity

Um, how great does a Gospel version of the Nativity story sound? I’m sure it SOUNDS amazing, because it is led by Pastor Patrinell Wright of Total Experience Gospel Choir. This show sells out fast so make sure you get your tickets now!

Visit Leavenworth

Leavenworth is the reason for the season! Take a trip to the tiny little Bavarian Village and enjoy the tree lighting each night, visit one of the 15 wineries and eat sausages!

Well, now that you’ve read through all of my recommendations, I will now direct you to this great little website: http://www.holidaysinseattle.com/Home.aspx, though trust me that I actually came up with all of these ideas by myself. Most of them are tried and true, as evidenced by photos of Elizmas’ past.



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