A Guide to Holiday Festivities Around the Sound

The holiday season is in full swing and with that comes a wide variety of winter festivals and activities around the region. Whether you’re into holiday light displays, craft fairs, or live performances, there is something for everybody. Below we’ve rounded up several winter festivals, activities, and events sure to get you into the spirit of the season.

Gingerbread Village

Held at the Sheraton Grand Seattle, the Gingerbread Village is an annual event showcasing giant gingerbread houses. The event raises money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, an organization that works to fund research into treatment for type 1 diabetes. While the Gingerbread Village is free to explore, there is a $5 suggested donation.

Bellevue Botanical Garden “Garden d’Lights”

The Garden d’Lights event is held annually at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens. Hundreds of thousands of lights crafted into sculptures depicting colorful plants and animals line the park’s pathways. It is held from November 30 to December 31 and tickets cost $5, though kids under 10 are free. There is also live music on certain days and an indoor gingerbread village.

Woodland Park Zoo Wildlights

Wildlights is a family-friendly event held at Woodland Park where guests can view animal-themed light displays, experience indoor exhibits, and play in indoor snow. This event runs from November 29 to January 5.

Christmas Lighting Festival in Leavenworth

For years the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth has held the immensely popular tree lighting festival. Every Saturday and Sunday in December over half a million Christmas lights are ceremonially lit in the evening. During the day, attendees can experience live music, meet Santa, sip hot spiced wine, and do a little gift-buying in the many unique shops that Leavenworth has to offer.

Christmas Ship Festival

Those interested in a nautical Christmas experience can take a ride on Argosy Cruises Christmas Ship. The ship is decorated with Christmas lights and takes guests on a tour of Lake  Washington. A choir performance, a craft station for children, and a reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas are also included in the experience. The cruise runs every day from the end of November to December 23. Argosy also hosts the Parade of Boats, held on December 13, where festively decorated boats sail around Lake Union.

A Victorian Country Christmas Festival

A tradition for more than 30 years, the Victorian Country Christmas Festival, located at Washington State Fair Grounds in Puyallup, runs from December 4 to 8. Browse hundreds of shops, meet Santa, drink in the wine garden, and watch daily live performances such as the Singing Nativity and the Tacoma Youth Symphony. Tickets are $10.50 on weekdays, $12 on weekends and parking is free.

Enchant Christmas Maze and Market Seattle

Enchant Christmas Maze and Market is held at the T-Mobile Park in Seattle through December. Explore a maze made of Christmas lights that covers almost 100,000 square feet, skate along the ice-skating trail, and shop for gifts in the market made up of local artists and small businesses.

Swanson’s Reindeer Festival

Swanson’s Nursery holds its Reindeer Festival from November 9 to December 24. Photos with Santa, reindeer meet-and-greets, and pet adoption days are just a few of the highlights of the festival. Christmas trees and seasonal plants are also available for purchase.

Holiday Theater

More than just one event, there are many opportunities to take in holiday-themed shows and performances this season. Check out A Christmas Story:The Musical on the Kidstage at the Village Theater in Issaquah, see the Christmas classic The Nutcracker performed at the Evergreen City Ballet in Renton, or head to Redmond to catch a performance of The Christmas Carol at the SecondStory Repertory.

Free Christmas Light Displays

If you are looking for a budget-friendly way to see Christmas lights, then you have plenty of options. Neighborhoods throughout the Puget Sound pull out all the stops during the holiday season and create stunning light displays that are free for all to enjoy. Candy Cane Lane in and Nutcracker Lane in Issaquah are two neighborhoods known for their lights. Check out free community light displays and shows as well:

Snoqualmie Winter Lights Celebration

Fantasy Lights display in Spanaway

Clam Lights in Renton

Be sure to bundle up, and maybe bring a Thermos of hot cocoa!

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Grace Carlson

Grace Carlson is a writer living in the Pacific Northwest. When not writing she enjoys reading, traveling, and baking things with chocolate, which she believes is the best medicine for most ailments. Find her online at gracecarlsonwriting.com.