The air is crisp and the sky is a steely blue-gray. It’s time to dig out your mittens and put your soup recipes into heavy rotation. The coziest time of the year has arrived in the Emerald City, and with it comes a host of festive activities to celebrate the spirit of the season! From dark, wintry ales to quaint towns chock-full of Christmas lights, we’ve got the ins and outs to guide your holiday plans in Seattle!

Get Your Glow On

Enjoy specialty holiday shopping, live Christmas carolers, sleigh rides around town and even meet St. Nick himself on a day trip to Leavenworth!

If it’s sensational sparkle you’re after, then a visit to the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth is a must! Hop aboard a deluxe motorcoach to ride over the Cascades into the heart of this charming mountain town. Packed with half a million shimmering lights, it is sure to provide no shortage of holiday cheer!

Grab a brat and a beer at local favorite Munchen Haus, then browse the quaint boutiques for one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts and souvenirs. Come sundown, join the merriment of The Lighting Ceremony when the lights are flipped on and the whole town is aglow with the Christmas spirit!

Jen Dotson of Thrifty NW Mom adds, “Not only are there snow-covered peaks surrounding the town, but often you’ll find snow. If you luck into some snowfall, it’s the perfect chance for the kids to take full advantage of the sledding hill in the center of town under the twinkling lights. ”


Take a Christmas Cruise

Pop into Langley’s Ott & Murphy Winery Tasting Room for a sample of their Double Bluff red blend with an ocean view.

Enjoy a uniquely PNW holiday experience with a festive cruise from downtown Seattle to the seaside town of Langley! Stroll onto the San Juan Clipper, decked out in tinsel and twinkling lights, for a scenic cruise to Whidbey Island. Take care of your holiday shopping at Langley’s eclectic range of shops, then sip some craft beer at Double Bluff Brewing. Cap off your afternoon with a visit to the Langley Whale Center with your kiddos and learn more about the marine wildlife that call our waters home.

Sia Hill of Thrifty NW Mom joined us last year and indulged in some retail therapy. She says, “There were a number of fun stores throughout the town to find unique Christmas gifts or “just because” purchases. My girls found Unicorn Bath Bombs that they loved and we paid just a few dollars each for them. You can find everything from home decor, to clothing, specialty items, holiday decorations and so much more!”


Be an Early Adopter

Don’t miss the chance to cruise around Enchant’s glimmering ice skating trail in the middle of SafeCo Field! Photo courtesy of Enchant Christmas

For the first time ever, the show-stopping holiday extravaganza known as Enchant Christmas will be stopping at our very own SafeCo Field! Whether you’re looking to lace up some skates and glide around the rink or snap the perfect holiday card photo with a sky-high Christmas tree, Enchant can make all your winter wonderland wishes come true. Kiddos will love exploring the lit-up maze (the world’s largest!), almost as much as they’ll love rewarding their efforts with a yummy hot chocolate.

Rest Easy

Swing by the Hyatt Regency’s holiday reception to fuel up on Christmas cookies and hot chocolate before being whisked away to Enchant Seattle.

The city’s other new kid on the block this year is the brand new Hyatt Regency Seattle. Pair your Enchant Christmas getaway with a stay in the luxe, centrally-located hotel and you’ll feel like a member of Santa’s inner circle.

Swing by the lobby for a holiday reception of Christmas cookies and hot chocolate, then hop into your complimentary shuttle to be chauffeured straight to the big event. After an evening of holiday merriment, head back to your hotel or keep the night going with a downtown nightcap!  Book this hotel with Clipper, learn more.

Tackle Your Holiday Shopping List

Get a jump on your Christmas shopping while exploring Seattle’s distinctive and exciting neighborhoods.

With a trendy undercurrent and thriving vintage shopping scene, Seattle is a worthy destination for a holiday shopping spree. Whether you’re browsing around Ballard, wandering through Wallingford or perusing Pioneer Square, you’re practically guaranteed to find a unique trinket for even the most hard-to-shop-for people on your gift list. If you’re feeling extra venturesome, hop on a water taxi to the laid-back waterfront neighborhood of West Seattle.

Elizabeth Blanton of Road Trips and Sky Miles elaborates, “A short trip across the water from downtown, the West Seattle neighborhood is a gem when it comes to holiday shopping. Start at Click! Design that Fits for unique, modern jewelry, artwork and home decor. Then walk down the street to Fleurt Collective to find a perfectly curated collection of home accessories and floral gifts.”


Sip Some Seasonal Suds

Celebrate the season by way of your taste buds with a six pack of Reuben’s Brews Holiday Gose. Photo courtesy of Reuben’s Brews

It’s no secret Seattle knocks it out of the park when it comes to craft brewing, and this time of year is no exception. Head to Capitol Hill for the industrial-chic taproom of Optimism Brewing to sample their autumn-spiced Thankful Toasty Thanksgiving Lager. Or cruise over to Ballard for a taste of Hale’s Ales malty-licious El Dazzle Winter Stout. Head down the road to nearby Reuben’s Brews for a range of limited time taps, such as the chocolatey Roasted Rye IPA or the succinctly named Ink.

Adam Robbings, co-Founder and Brewmaster of Reuben’s Brews, says of their brew ideology, “We enjoy adding seasonal flavors to regular beers to create something new. A great example is our Holiday Gose which adds orange peel and cranberries to accentuate the flavors of this tart and refreshing German ale.”

Opt for Glamour

Hotel Sorrento’s Fireside Room offers up the coziest possible environment for a holiday happy hour. Photo courtesy of Hotel Sorrento

From glitzy decorations to seasonal food and drink menus, the impeccably-appointed Hotel Sorrento is the perfect spot to spend a swanky holiday evening. Settle into a velvet-swathed couch in the Fireside Room, sip on a Maple Bourbon Old Fashioned and soak in the sounds of live carolers serenading you.

Jess Estrada of FreshJess gushes, “I love that the Hotel Sorrento has Silent Reading parties on Wednesdays (which goes all year but is extra cozy during the holidays). The Dickens Carolers are also
regulars at the hotel during the holidays and are always a treat.”


Support Local Artists

Spend an afternoon browsing through one-of-a-kind goods at the Renegade Craft Fair.
Photo: Sam Majerowicz

Holiday shopping. We dread it every year! The crowds of people, the endless lines, the bumper-to-bumper traffic. Why not avoid the headache ­– and support some independent craftsmen in the process! Seattle hosts a bevy of holiday craft fairs this time of year, offering an artisan alternative to jam-packed shopping malls and unoriginal gift giving.

Adria Saracino of The Emerald Palate enthuses, “One of my favorite things about the PNW is how creative it is. There are makers bringing back the lost art of crafting quality products everywhere you turn. No time is that more obvious than during the holidays. There are more than 30 craft fairs every holiday season bringing together beautifully curated homemade items that make the perfect gifts…both for loved ones and yourself!”

Check out Saracino’s comprehensive rundown of all the artisan holiday markets in the Seattle area to map out your shopping spree!

Admire All d’Lights

A chilly evening stroll through the Bellevue Botanical Gardens gets a tropical makeover during their Garden d’Lights display! Photo: Iurii Zvonar

The lush grounds of the Bellevue Botanical Garden get a dazzling makeover by way of more than half a million lights during their annual Garden d’Lights display. For just five bucks per person (kids under 10 are free), wander through the grounds to spot the whimsical shapes of plants, flowers, birds, animals and cascading waterfalls offset by the natural beauty of the gardens.

Coming for a repeat visit? This year offers even more lights, expanded pathways through the grounds and newly designed displays! (Craving some more sparkle? We’ve got you covered with our breakdown of Seattle’s best holiday lights displays!)

Save Room for Dessert

Flashback to 2015 when the Gingerbread Village got a makeover from a galaxy far, far away…
Photo: Frank Fujimoto

Festive, frosted creations take center stage at the 26th annual Gingerbread Village hosted by Sheraton Seattle. This year, the city’s top architecture firms, master builders and Sheraton Seattle culinary teams have come together to recreate famous scenes from the beloved tale, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. From the city’s main square to “Mount Crumpit,” all of Whoville will be on display. Whatever the culinary constructors come up with, it’ll surely light up your kiddos’ faces (and yours!) with awe.

Seattleite’s Jenn Liu proclaims, The Gingerbread Village is always such a fun and festive activity that I’ve enjoyed with friends and family over the years. Because it’s located in the Sheraton Seattle lobby, it’s accessible to everyone and open 24/7! There’s no entrance fee, but the event takes donations that go towards the Northwest chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.”



With the whole city draped in twinkling lights (even our plentiful construction cranes!), it’s nearly impossible not to get into the holiday spirit on a wintertime visit to Seattle. Whether you want to experience Christmas by the sea or find a one-of-a-kind present for that someone special, you’re bound to leave the city with some lasting memories and a heavier suitcase!

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Featured image: David Hogan