For six magical weeks at the end of every year, the charm of Kirkland only becomes more pronounced. Just like in seasons past, this year’s festivities kicked off on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, when residents — bundled in winter clothing — gathered to decorate every tree trunk and street pole in downtown Kirkland with lights.
With another holiday season in Kirkland upon us, The Woodmark Hotel invites you to become part of the tradition this year. In addition to myriad activities here at the hotel, like wintertime tours of Lake Washington via our vintage Chris Craft boat, Santa Brunch and Holiday Cookie Decorating, Holiday Parties at Still Spa, and our Winter Passport to Spa-La-La, there are plenty of reasons to plan a trip to the shores of Lake Washington this December. Here are our three of our favorite festive celebrations happening soon in Kirkland:
Saturday, December 1 beginning at 3 pm | Marina Park
As one of the city’s most beloved annual traditions, Kirkland Winterfest moves this year to Marina Park on the shores of Lake Washington. Similar to years past, visitors will have the opportunity to pose for pictures with Santa, as well as “Keiko” — Kirkland’s favorite llama.
Put on by the Kirkland Downtown Association, Winterfest is completely free to enjoy, as are the cups of hot cocoa served by city council members. The festivities include a lineup of live music and entertainment, a sledding hill, caroling, bonfires, and various family activities to help you get into the holiday spirit.
Guests are encouraged to bring their appetites. Besides the lineup of food trucks in attendance, the event will be located just a block from the locally inspired restaurants scattered throughout the iconic Park Lane. The pedestrian-focused street is also home to a variety of boutiques to procure bespoke gifts for everyone on the shopping list.
After twilight, the atmosphere becomes even more colorful with the traditional city tree lighting ceremony, and after 6 pm, guests are encouraged to don their favorite ugly sweater to attend an afterparty and karaoke session at Wilde Rover Irish Pub.
Friday, December 7 from 5 – 6:30 pm | Google Campus at the Cross Kirkland Corridor
Who better to engineer a light show featuring more than 10,000 musically synced lights than Google?
Continuing the tech-savvy tradition that first debuted in 2015, Google Lights will again set their campus at the Cross Kirkland Corridor aglow, launching with an evening of free cookies and hot cocoa, caroling, and an appearance from the Seattle Seahawks mascot, Blitz. Previous years have also included a giant snow globe photobooth for families to take festive shots.
As nighttime approaches, Kirkland Mayor Amy Walen will flip the switch to illuminate the area with a show of LED lights expertly synchronized to holiday tunes. Free to attend, this event encourages guests to bring non-perishable food and new, unwrapped toys to donate to Hopelink and Lifewire, two nonprofits offering assistance to local families in need.
Sunday, December 16 from 7:45 – 11:30 am | Heritage Park
Photo: Snohomish Running Company
Drawing an average attendance of around 2,700 athletes from the Puget Sound area and beyond, Kirkland’s 12Ks of Christmas returns for the 11th year.
Whether walking or running, racers can participate in either a 5K or 12K holiday-themed route through the decorated corridor of downtown Kirkland and along the scenic shore of Lake Washington. After registration and race packet pickup, attendees are invited to warm up for the route with a yoga session at 8 am.
Historically, organizers of the race have encouraged costumes, and historically, racers and spectators alike have been happy to oblige. On any given year, the crowd is generously sprinkled with bobbing reindeer antler headbands, red and white Santa hats, and a jingling chorus from bells of all sizes.
As walkers and runners reach the end of their circuits, they’ll emerge into a finish line festival featuring over 30 booths from vendors and sponsors, as well as live music, complimentary food, and a nearby beverage garden serving up seasonal winter microbrews and hot spiced wine. Here, at the adjacent Heritage Park path, athletes 10 and younger will have the opportunity to show their speed in the 1K Kids Dash, beginning at 11:15 am.
In their second year hosting the race, the local Snohomish Running Company will continue the tradition of holding a costume contest to select the most festive attendee, and like previous editions, proceeds from this year’s event (which happens to be dog-friendly) will benefit the Seattle Humane Society.
Thumbnail Photo: Barbie Young
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