Is it a show? A parade? A winter wonderland extravaganza? Whatever you call it, downtown Bellevue's Snowflake Lane has become a favorite tradition for many Eastside families. Bellevue Collection storefronts glow with giant snowflakes projected onto the walls, while clusters of foam bubbles float on the air as weightlessly as the real thing. Swirling “snow” and blaring holiday music set the mood for the performance every evening at 7 p.m., as toy soldiers, girls with tambourines, and drummers on stilt shoes get ready to put on a show you won’t forget.
From Jingle Belles to live toy soldiers
The show features 60 dancers: the “Jingle Belles,” who march down Bellevue Way, rolling tables that become dancing pedestals when they turn the street into their stage. With red boots and candy cane umbrellas, they kick and swirl with lively energy in perfect unison, identical right down to their bobbed wigs.
Their umbrellas make a perfect prop, flared in the wind, spun like canes, or strummed like air guitars as the dancers perform to rocking versions of favorite holiday songs.
Arrive early to scope out a good viewing spot: although the dancers are spaced evenly along the street for more visibility, they might be hard to see from behind crowds or on the sidewalk. Standing in the street, I could see the dancers through the gaps in the crowd, but the kids in strollers beside me couldn’t see a thing.
The drummers, on the other hand, cannot be missed. Hired from the bands of various high schools, these teenage toy soldiers rock out on their pedestals, snapping out complicated drum rhythms with an occasional tap on clinking candy cane poles. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and you can’t help loving them even as they deafen you.
Snowflake Lane tips
The noise is the show’s main drawback. Even at bearable volumes, this high-energy production never lets up. When I ended up standing near a drummer for a few minutes, I had to pull up my hood and cover my baby’s ears, and it was still skull-pounding. Bring earplugs for everyone, or try to watch from a distance to save your ears.
But while the adults in our group came away complaining about the noise, the children had a great time. All the kids, ranging from two to ten years old, could enjoy something in the show, whether it was the dancing, the drummers, or the peppermint Tootsie Pops handed out by snow fairies. “It was awesome,” my 8-year-old son announced. “I loved it.” And the next day, my 5-year-old daughter started dancing with her own red ruffled umbrella.
If you go ...
Where and when: Snowflake Lane is performed at 7 p.m. nightly through December 24, on the sidewalks between Bellevue Square, Lincoln Square and Bellevue Place. From December 26–31, it transitions to a show called Celebration Lane in preparation for the upcoming New Year.
Tips: If you’re driving, avoid the intersections at Bellevue Way and N.E. 4th or N.E. 8th. (As police prepare to close the street nightly, these intersections get clogged with traffic and pedestrians.) The parking garage at Lincoln Square fills up quickly; you’ll have a better time getting into the parking garage beneath the Hyatt, which can be entered from N.E. 10th, or on the other side of Bellevue Square.
Check the website for more detailed parking information, or how to find the Meet and Greet area at Bellevue Square for photos with the snow princesses.
Food: If you need to feed children, you’ll find plenty of options: our favorites include Auntie Anne’s pretzels or Pinkabella cupcakes in Bellevue Square, or takeout dumplings from top-rated Din Tai Fung in Lincoln Square.
Note: This article was originally written in 2013 and updated for 2015.