Seattle in the holidays is more than a season. The shorter winter days cast an ambiance over the city that most of us crave come the holidays: cool enough to bundle up, but not so cold that you risk frostbite if you set foot outside. No sooner has Thanksgiving wrapped up than Seattle transforms in a shower of shimmery lights and pop-up holiday markets, best enjoyed beneath a brooding gray sky.
Seattle knows that the darker evenings and frequently gray days lend themselves to witnessing Christmas lights in all their glory. That’s why you’ll find trees, parks, buildings, and even stadiums ensconced with lights all from T-Mobile Park all the way to the Seattle Center. Few other holiday destinations can match the lights that overtake Seattle’s streets.
Beyond just being in the city, Seattle knows how to put on a holiday party. And the best part is that most are clustered around the heart of downtown, well within walking distance of Motif Seattle. Meander along the twinkly-lit streets to one of these 15 things to do in Seattle for Christmas, from tree lightings to ship festivals to musical spectaculars.
For the 30th year in a row, Seattle architects will put their skills to the test to construct an entire gingerbread village at the Seattle Sheraton. This year’s theme is Whoville, so keep an eye out for Cindy Lou Who and the Grinch. The event benefits the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Viewing hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
T-Mobile Park will once again transform into a winter wonderland. An intricate light maze will sit on the field itself, allowing guests to make their way through glittering arches and magical sculptures. Eddie the Elf has hidden eight gifts within the maze, so you never know what you might discover.
The Seattle Festival of Trees has been a Seattle Christmas staple since 1978. People from around the Pacific Northwest purchase these spectacularly decorated trees, with proceeds benefiting the Autism Center at Seattle Children’s Hospital. These trees are then put on display for all to enjoy at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel until their new owners take them home December 4.
The annual Macy’s Holiday Parade is a Seattle holiday favorite, and the true beginning of the Christmas season. Watch as floats and performers parade through downtown, ending at the Seattle Macy’s. The parade culminates in the lighting of the star that hangs atop Macy’s every year at Christmas.
The perfect compliment to the Macy’s Holiday Parade and Star Lighting, Westlake Park’s Tree Lighting is another kickoff to the holiday season. As the site of many of the holiday events in downtown, Westlake Park is the perfect spot for this awe-inspiring tree. Bundle up with a cup of hot chocolate to watch the tree come to life.
One of Seattle’s most unique and festive events, the Christmas Ship Festival has become a holiday favorite. Argosy Cruises hosts the festival from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Book a cruise so you can see the holiday lights at many of Seattle’s seaside communities, or simply attend the on-shore events, which include a bonfire and tree lighting.
Every weekend Thanksgiving through Christmas, Urban Craft Uprising takes over Westlake Park for this one-of-a-kind holiday market. Peruse unique, handmade gifts from local makers, all within a German-style market. This is the perfect place to get your holiday shopping out of the way with plenty of holiday charm to boot.
McCaw Hall brings this Christmas classic to life every holiday season. Watch the stage come to life with unique design alongside this beloved score and Pacific Northwest Ballet’s magical dancers. You’ll also have plenty of photo op’s in McCaw Hall’s decked out lobby.
With over a month-long run, Seattle Center’s Winterfest truly offers something for everyone. From sparkling lights and kid-friendly attractions to ice skating and ice sculpting, you’ll find every winter activity you can dream up scattered throughout the month. Winterfest even launches fireworks from the Space Needle to mark New Year's Eve.
As one of Seattle’s most visited attractions, Pike Place Market pulls out all the stops for the holidays. Watch the tree lighting ceremony, listen to festive music, decorate cookies, and even snap some photos with Santa, all at Magic in the Market.
Where Seattle gets social. By design.
Make your way to the fifth floor on 5th Avenue for downtown Seattle’s best rooftop happy hour hotspot, Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails — consistently voted among the best rooftop bars in America.
Come for the handcrafted cocktails, stay for Chef Adam Stevenson’s locally-inspired menu, featuring wild seafood, foraged mushrooms and the best of the Pacific Northwest.
And do come to play. Warmed by two gorgeous outdoor fireplaces and vibrant lighting in edgy urban patio style, you’ll want to start some mischief of your own with a little shuffleboard, LED ping-pong and a rotating cast of live Seattle musicians and DJs.
Open daily for breakfast, lunch, dinner — and weekends for brunch. See what’s on the menu or reserve your table below.BOOK A TABLE AT FROLIK KITCHEN + COCKTAILS