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Get your holiday vibe on with fun and festive things to do in Seattle

When it comes to holiday fun in Seattle, you've got lots of options. From houseboats to cruisers, vessels of all types will be decked out in holiday lights, with their colorful displays reflecting off Puget Sound. Celebrations take place throughout the city, including one right under the Space Needle. While there may or may not be a dusting of snow, you can be sure that a winter wonderland awaits, along with plenty of caroling, old-fashioned delights, and adults-only festivities, too. Read on.

The Christmas Ship: Enchanting Nautical Vibe

While you could gather along the shore and watch the brightly lit boats as they make their way from Lake Union toward the Fremont Cut, the best way to experience it is to hop aboard the Argosy Cruises' official Christmas Ship. 

Sail on the Spirit of Seattle, visiting waterfront communities around the area for an unforgettable 1.5-hour cruise that comes complete with choir performances, a reading of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, photos with Santa, and a full-service bar.

Snowflake Lane: Winter Wonderland Vibe

Cross Lake Washington via the floating bridge to experience a winter wonderland complete with a dusting of "snow." Hosted between Lincoln and Bellevue squares, even if the real white stuff isn't coming down, there will be snowflakes gently falling as you take in dazzling lights, toy drummers, dancers, and festive tunes in the nightly parade of holiday floats.

Burlesque Nutcracker: Naughty Santa Vibe

Looking for something a bit more adult-oriented? The traditional version of "The Nutcracker" might be too tame for your liking, but this one offers a bit of naughty magic. Get your burlesque on with the "Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker" on the Triple Door Mainstage. The uninhibited event was named "The Best Burlesque in Western Washington" by KING 5, delighting audiences since 2006.

WildLanterns at Seattle Zoo: Exotic Light Vibe

WildLanterns is a new take on Zoo Lights, providing an immersive experience with 40 different large-scale animal and nature-scape lanterns representing wild places from all corners of the globe. 

This event wows all ages with zoo favorites and Pacific Northwest marine creatures (orcas and crabs) illuminated from within. Keep watch, as some of those eyes (like the winking frogs) might be staring back, while alligators smile to show off their jagged teeth.

Christmas-Themed Miracle Bar: Holiday Spirit in a Glass Vibe

The popular Christmas-themed Miracle Bar is back, and there may be no better way to get into the spirit with this pop-up cocktail bar. Immerse yourself in the festival setting, sipping while surrounded by holiday decor. Put on your favorite Santa hat and don your best sparkly attire for this one.

Winterfest at Seattle Center: Nostalgic Christmas Vibe

Winterfest has been an annual tradition for 35 years, a nostalgic event for many who grew up in the city. The five-week event kicks off the day after Thanksgiving, held right beneath the iconic Space Needle. It includes a lighting display, mind-boggling ice sculpting, performances, an ice skating rink, and the Winter Train & Village

The Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition: Heart-Warming Holiday Music Vibe

This fun and festive local competition is celebrating its 35th year in 2021. It brings caroling groups of all ages into the heart of downtown to compete for three top spots. The audience will choose the very best based on crowd applause in a "carol-off." Be part of the audience, or watch the live stream from Pike Place Market on December 3rd (otherwise known as "Figgy Friday") between 6 and 8 p.m.

Westlake Center and Westlake Park: Light Up the Night Vibe

Westlake Center hosts a long-time, post-Thanksgiving tradition, drawing over 10,000 to watch the Christmas tree lighting that kicks off the season, rain or shine. After the "magic" turns on the brilliant display, you can visit anytime, then head over to Westlake Park just steps away to check out the oversized light sculptures of trees, arches, presents, and more.

Garden d' Lights: Whimsical Vibe

Over on the Eastside, the Bellevue Botanical Garden is transformed with a half-million colorful sparkling lights for the holidays. It's a fantastical delight that looks as if you're stepping into a dream world, with whimsical characters like a golden swan on a brilliant blue pond, tropical fish, bright butterflies, and even a green dragon with a hissing tongue. In between, there are all sorts of flowers like lilies and daffodils, while holiday tunes fill the evening air.

About the Author:

K.C. Dermody

Inspired by adventure, K.C. Dermody is a travel writer who splits her time between Seattle and Baja, Mexico, exploring some of the world’s most remote corners in between. When not writing, she’s probably chasing whales, swimming with sea lions, hitting scenic trails, or investigating haunted Irish castles, ending the day by sipping a tasty beverage with the locals. She is in 100 percent agreement with Anthony Bourdain's advice to "Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.”