New Year's at the Needle from the viewpoint of Chihuly Garden and Glass. Amy Vaughn

All Things Holiday

With the crunch of leaves underfoot, resurgence of pumpkin and peppermint lattes, and temperatures brisk enough to don your favorite chunky sweater, it’s official: the holidays have arrived in the Emerald City. Make the most of the season with these annual events and new traditions, from turkey day through the ringing in of the new year.

Emily Boynton

Seasonal Favorites

The My Macy’s Holiday Parade (Nov 23) returns to the heart of downtown with more floats than ever, followed by the Westlake Center Tree Lighting (Nov 23). Head north to Woodland Park Zoo (Nov 23–Dec 11, Dec 13–23 & Dec 26–Jan 5; 5500 Phinney Ave N) for WildLights, a two-for-one holiday light show and zoo exhibit exploration promising everything from up-close animal encounters to indoor snowball fights. The over-21 set can cozy up at one of the fire pits with a steaming cup of mulled wine or spiced hot cider, and guests of all ages will enjoy the more than 600,000 LED lights that illuminate the zoo—including the the Historic Carousel, open nightly to guests. Round out the season with T-Mobile New Year’s at the Needle (Dec 31; 400 Broad St)—whether you’re sharing a kiss or popping champagne at midnight, a firework show at Space Needle is the perfect way to kick off the new year.

The Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition is a fun, charitable event held each year in Westlake Park. Art Kuniyuki, Courtesy of the Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition

Merry Festivals

Kick things off at the 41st annual Yulefest (Nov 17 & 18; 2655 NW Market St)—held at the newly renovated Nordic Museum in Ballard—for live music and traditional treats, or head south to SODO to experience Enchant Christmas (Nov 23–Dec 30; 1250 First Ave S), a sparkling spectacle transforming Safeco Field into a winter wonderland complete with an ice skating trail, flurries of snow, and Mr. Claus himself. For a lightshow at sea, climb aboard Argosy Cruise’s Christmas Ship Festival (Nov 23–25, Dec 1, 2, 5–10 & 12–23), and  enjoy holiday standards being sung by a choir while cruising Puget Sound in a parade of twinkling vessels. Winterfest (Nov 23–Jan 6) at Seattle Center is another annual favorite, offering five weeks of holiday fun from ice sculptors and indoor skating.

Shopper’s Delight

Scoop up locally made stocking stuffers and personalized gifts for everyone on your list at Urban Craft Uprising’s 2018 Winter Show (Dec 1-2; 301 Mercer St), which showcases a collection of goods from more than 150 vendors. And there’s fun to be had for the whole family at Magic in the Market at Pike Place Market (Nov 24; First and Pike)—kids enjoy free cookie decorating and photos with Santa under the Market’s iconic sign, followed by sipping cider and strolling through produce and craft stalls.

Must-See Shows

Spark that holiday spirit with ACT’s (700 Union St) 43rd annual production of the Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol (Nov 23­–Dec 28), following Scrooge’s journey through the past, present, and future. Peek behind the curtain with a backstage tour, including the production rooms where the play was brought to life. Watch the Peanuts gang find the true meaning of the season in A Charlie Brown Christmas at Taproot Theatre (204 N 85th St). If you have little ones in tow, purchase a reduced price “Lap Child” ticket, and stick around after the production for on-set photos with the cast. Those with sensory needs can attend performances with smaller audiences, lower sound levels, and allowances for fidget toys, electronics, and special seating devices.

And no matter where you land on the Naughty or Nice list this year, there’s a Nutcracker performance for you. Check out the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s (301 Mercer St) enchanting production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker (Nov 23–Dec 28) featuring the beloved score, fantastical costumes, and a set piece chandelier made by renowned glassblower and local artist Dale Chihuly. Or spice things up with the Triple Door’s (216 Union St) Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker (Dec 7–30), which puts a risqué spin on the holiday tradition.

Spirited Holidays

Add a boozy boost to your seasonal lineup with the Washington Brewers Guild’s Winter Beer Fest (Nov 30 & Dec 1; 7400 Sand Point Way NE), and taste beers from more than 50 local breweries. Looking for craft cocktails? Holiday pop-up Miracle on 2nd is back again this year to transform Rob Roy (2332 Second Ave) from local watering hole to winter escape (Nov 24–Dec 24) with themed drinks, including a cocktail of the day from the Cocktail Advent Calendar.

Visions of Sugar Plums

Satisfy your sweet tooth downtown with a chewy gingersnap cookie from Dahlia Bakery (2001 Fourth Ave), seasonal macaron from Lady Yum (2130 Sixth Ave), or a decadent Santa’s S’mores—a mousse cake atop graham cracker crust—from Bakery Nouveau (multiple locations). Don’t forget to snag a few twice-baked chocolate-almond croissants, local legends that make for a sweet treat no matter the season.

The Gingerbread Village is an annual tradition at the Sheraton Grand Seattle. Amy Vaughn

Spirit of Giving

There’s no shortage of holiday events and activities supporting local causes in Seattle. Discover Dr. Seuss-inspired gingerbread creations at Sheraton Grand Seattle’s Gingerbread Village (Nov 20–Dec 3; 1400 Sixth Ave), with all donations benefitting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Next, see towering trees decked out in their holiday best—from Hogwarts insignia to Dilettante’s Chocolate delicacies—at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel’s Festival of Trees (Nov 17–Dec 2; 411 University St), which raises funds for Seattle Children’s Hospital. Spread holiday cheer by singing loud for all to hear at The Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition (Dec 7; 400 Pine St), where dozens of caroling groups compete to fundraise for the Pike Market Senior Center Food Bank.

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