As this year continued to mark a world of uncertainty, Seattle remained resilient and reopened safely on June 30, 2021. With a celebrated high vaccination rate in King County, the Emerald City is poised to welcome back international travelers in time for the beloved holiday season. From world-class shopping and traditional experiences, like Pike Place Market, to delicious dining and magical holiday lights, Seattle’s safe and welcoming environment is a must-visit winter destination. With low rates and festive holiday packages, experience the magic by pairing any of the below events with a cozy stay at one of Seattle’s downtown hotels.
“We are thrilled to welcome back international and domestic travelers this holiday season, after so many of our hotel, restaurant and small business partners have been impacted tremendously by COVID-19,” said Tom Norwalk, Visit Seattle’s president and CEO. “We invite travelers and locals alike to experience the magic of the holidays in Seattle by supporting our local community with festive holiday shopping, overnight stay, or indulgence in the incredible dining scene we have here. With an 82% vaccination rate, a holiday trip to Seattle is safe and our local businesses are elated to welcome you.”
The Westlake Center Tree Lighting, presented by Alaska Airlines, takes place on November 26 and will be in-person this year, with streaming available online. Throughout the day, Westlake Park will have music, light sculptures, and other activities to kick-off the holiday season. Pike Place Market’s annual holiday celebration takes place November 27 and is filled with joyful entertainment, a visit from Santa Claus, craft vendors and Market holiday lights, which remain lit through December. In addition, Downtown Holiday Lights and Delights presented by Amazon kicks off on November 27, where a sleigh’s worth of new experiences awaits in downtown Seattle. Dazzling holiday-themed light sculptures will come to life in Westlake Park, with more than 80,000 lights shining from larger-than-life installations of presents, arches, trees and more. For the first time, the Downtown Seattle Association is also bringing a holiday augmented reality experience created by Novaby to designated spots throughout parks, sidewalks, and plazas in downtown’s retail core. Bring your smartphone to discover this digital winter wonderland hidden in plain sight! All activities are socially distanced. Also downtown at Pacific Place, from December 17-27, Fleurs de Villes NOËL is a fresh floral celebration of the holiday season. Unique floral pop-ups, including floral mannequins, doorways, and other picture-perfect installations, will create a delightful and festive floral stroll through Pacific Place. Pick up fresh blooms from local florists at the flower market on Saturday, December 18, or stop by Fleurs de Villes JARDIN, presented by the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival, for a series of floral workshops and demonstrations.
The arts are back this year with two wildly different renditions of The Nutcracker. With its classic score, thrilling dance, resplendent costumes and scenery, and magical story, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker® (November 26 – December 28) is a wonderful centerpiece for any celebration. The return of the Pacific Northwest Ballet offers up family-friendly holiday fun. In addition, Lily Verlaine and Jasper McCann bring back their award-winning wintertime spectacle, Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker (December 8-29), featuring the return of Verlaine’s Sugar Plum Fairy, the light-juggling magic of Babette La Fave, the ever-loveable Snowflakes and of course the swingiest band in the Land, The Nutcracker Nonette.
Seattle’s iconic Winterfest at Seattle Center returns in-person this year, with virtual options as well. Connect to a world of sparkling lights, amusements, and spirited entertainment from November 26 – December 31. Throughout the five weeks of Winterfest, experience uplifting seasonal spirit with performances, the Winter Train & Village, ice sculpting, the annual campus lighting display and more. The festivities continue with the beloved tradition of ringing in the new year with North America's largest structurally launched fireworks display at the Space Needle. T-Mobile New Year's at the Needle will once again light up the night sky with fireworks and lights - plus new surprises to ring in 2022 - when the clock strikes midnight. Details to be announced soon here.
Northwest tradition continues with a ship-to-shore holiday celebration from Argosy Cruises. The Spirit of Seattle™, the Official Christmas Ship™, is decorated with hundreds of shimmery white lights and sails to different Puget Sound waterfront communities – around 40 in all. Choirs on board the Christmas Ship™ perform to guests aboard, to follow boats, and to communities gathered on shore. 10% of all Christmas Ship™ Festival ticket proceeds and 100% of photo proceeds are donated to The Seattle Times Fund For Those In Need. Private holiday charter available for parties larger than 10 people. Bookings are available from November 26 – December 23.
Back by popular demand, the Woodland Park Zoo’s, WildLanterns returns for the second year featuring large scale animal and nature scape lanterns representing wild places from around the globe. Presented by BECU, WildLanterns, offers a larger-than-life, immersive event that will “wow” anyone, no matter their age. The experience is available Tuesday – Sunday, 4:00 – 8:30 PM, from November 12, 2021 – January 30, 2022, and is closed Mondays (except for December 20 & 27), November 25 and December 24 & 25.
Unique shopping and gifting experiences are aplenty this holiday season. Open now through the end of the year, Bogey Boys is in the same Capitol Hill neighborhood where founder Macklemore used to hunt for vintage threads at local thrift shops. The new store features the latest Bogey Boys collections and includes a 1,500-square-foot putting green on the street level. The pop-up is a perfect spot to pop into, with a vintage thrift store on the bottom level providing the newer generation a glimpse into the past. From Boma Jewelry’s sustainable pieces and celebrity Chef Shota Nakajima’s newly launched premium teriyaki sauce Make Umami, to glass art finds at Seattle Glassblowing Studio and Chef Renee Erickson’s new book GETAWAY, shop local and support small businesses with one-of-a-kind Seattle gifts this holiday season. Urban Craft Uprising, Seattle’s largest indie craft show, offers up a wonderful mix of unique and special gifts. Urban Craft Uprising’s Winter Show is December 4-5, 10am-6pm on Saturday and 10am-5pm on Sunday. The South Lake Union Winter Market takes place December 8-9, 10am-6pm.