Winter Wonderland: Lights, Delights and Shopping

Get in the Holiday spirit this season with these dazzling activities.

Some Seattleites might mark the beginning of the Holiday season with the arrival of festive Starbucks cups (admittedly, an exciting day). Others might be more inclined to get in the seasonal groove following Thanksgiving, when the true Christmas (shopping) frenzy begins. Either way, the holiday lights are coming — so here are a few local displays to brighten up these dark days and put you in a properly jolly state of mind:

Downtown Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting Celebration (Westlake Center, Nov. 25)

The holidays aren’t complete without a parade! The day after Thanksgiving, head downtown with the whole family for this festive Seattle tradition. The parade begins on 7th Avenue at 8:45 a.m., snakes through Pine and University Streets and eventually winds up at Macy’s.

This year’s parade will feature more than 23 floats, local marching bands, sports teams and nearly 500 colorful characters that will entertain and delight as they make their way through downtown Seattle. The day concludes at 5 p.m. with the official lighting of the Westlake Center Holiday Tree (topped with the Macy’s Star), followed by a spirited fireworks display.

Magic At The Market (Pike Place Market, Nov. 26)

The kaleidoscope of people, products and historic traditions that is the Pike Place Market grows even more colorful when thousands of lights are turned on all at once at 5:00 p.m. on buildings and rooftops that line Pike Place. There’s even a towering 20-foot tree and “swinedeer.” Look for the lighted carrot, pear and strawberry, too.

Santa will be stationed at his throne next to his trusty “sleigh,” a vintage 1936 International flatbed truck in holiday green and red. Take a photo with him 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. near Rachel the bronze piggybank.

Capitol Hill Ice Rink (Cal Anderson Park, Dec. 6 — Dec. 24)

The holidays are upon us and this December Seattleites can enjoy one of winter’s classic pastimes at Seattle’s own Cal Anderson Park. The Capitol Hill Ice Rink, located on the basketball courts in Cal Anderson Park, will open December 6 and run through December 24.  The rink will be covered and enhanced with holiday decorations and seasonal music, as well as free gift wrapping will be offered. Cost per hour is $12/adults; $6/children 8 and under. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Alderwood’s Holiday Shopping Perks (Lynwood, Dec. 2, 9, 16)

Fridays are sure to be merrier for Alderwood shoppers. The shopping center is giving customers a $10 mall gift card when they spend $100 or more on Merrier Fridays. Shoppers can pick up their gift card by presenting their same day receipts at the Redemption Zone (located near the Children’s Play Area at the SouthEast end of the center) while supplies last, available from 4pm – 8pm.

Winterfest (Seattle Center, Nov. 25 — Dec. 31)

Enjoy five fun-filled, merry weeks of free activities and entertainment at the Seattle Center. Start off by grabbing your skates and heading to the Winterfest Ice Rink, then warm up with a stroll past the miniature Winter Train and enjoy a serenade from Dicken’s Carolers.

Other activities include performances by the Garfield High School Jazz Band, Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra and Black Nativity’s Total Experience Gospel Choir, ice sculpting, a Matt Baker Comedy Stunt Show and a New Year’s Eve celebration with The Rhythm Nation.

Zoolights (Point Defiance Zoo, Nov. 25-Jan 1)

A Northwest favorite, Zoolights is back and better than ever this year with fun new additions, including a scuba-diving Santa Claus! Stroll through the Zoo while enjoying a cozy cup of hot cocoa as you take in the impressive glittering displays around every corner. Zoolights will be open every night (except Christmas Eve) from 5 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $7 online and at Fred Meyer, and $8.25 at the gate.

Garden D’Lights (Bellevue Botanical Center, Nov. 26-Dec. 31)

This stunning display features roughly half a million lights, inspired by plants native to the Northwest, as well as famous gardens around the world. Garden d’Lights at the Bellevue Botanical Center draws more than 150,000 visitors each year.

This fluorescent winter wonderland will be open every evening from 5 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $5 per person, with free admission for children 10 and younger. Avoid the line and purchase your tickets online.