Outings + Activities | Holidays

Counting Down: 13 Best New Year's Events for Seattle and Eastside Families

Awesome all-ages ways to ring in 2016 around Seattle

Can’t stay up ‘til midnight? No babysitter? No problem — make ringing in the new year a family affair. Read on for top family outings around the Sound for both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, and even a family concert on Saturday, Jan. 2.

Plus, for your home party planning, don't miss this article about lucky New Year's Eve treats from around the world (12 grapes before midnight!) and 12 amazing mocktails and cocktails to help you ring in 2016 in celebratory fashion.

New Year’s Eve, Thursday, Dec. 31

Celebration Lane, Bellevue: You might have experienced Bellevue’s Snowflake Lane, but now it’s Celebration Lane (starting on Dec. 26) with new features and fun, including a display of brilliant lights and music, and bubbles that fall from the sky as the drummers and characters dance to lively songs. Grab a spot on the sidewalks between Bellevue Square, Lincoln Square and Bellevue Place for the free 7 p.m. show.

Children's Museum, Seattle Global CountdownRing in the new year and improve your kids global IQ: The Children's Museum will count down the arrival of the new year in different countries, one for each hour, including doing a craft that represents a tradition of that country. Russian new year is at noon, Ethiopia at 1 p.m. and more. Festivities are included with admission, the museum is open 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and hourly celebrations are on the hour from 11 a.m.–4 p.m.

The Children’s Museum of Tacoma, New Year’s Eve at Noon: Kids can make plenty of noise celebrating the new year after creating their very own musical shaker. Every hour, Museum staff will lead visitors in a dance party with everyone playing their new music maker! Admission is pay-what-you-can every day and the museum is open 10 a.m.–5 p.m.  on Thursday, Dec. 31.

Seattle Center’s New Year’s Eve celebration: There is plenty of family fun to be had at Seattle Center's annual Winterfest celebration. A band called "The Machine" will play danceable, fun rock and roll hits for a free, all-ages, New Year's Eve dance party that runs from 8–11:45 p.m. Dance for an hour and have the kiddos tucked into bed by 10 p.m. Come early to take in the last of the Winterfest train and village (open until 6 p.m.) or go for an evening skate at the ice rink (open until 11:30 p.m.). Spend a little time at the beautiful outdoor International Fountain of Light where KEXP's DJ Sharlese will be spinning tunes to accompany scintillating visuals projected onto the fountain by Baryonyx.

First Night Tacoma New Year’s Eve celebrationOne of the region's best New Year's Eve events transforms the city’s downtown theater district into a huge theater street party from 6 p.m.–midnight. A packed evening of musical acts, performances and activities are on the docket. All outdoor activities are free, which includes a selection of musical acts and the world's shortest parade at 6 p.m. First Night buttons for entry into indoor venues cost $10 advance, $14 day of; kids ages 10 and under free. Buttons also grant admission to the Museum of Glass, Children's Museum of Tacoma and Tacoma Art Museum, as well as a free skate at Polar Plaza, all on Dec. 31.

KidsQuest Children's Museum: It's another "noon year" celebration, this time at Bellevue's children's museum, with a bubble wrap stomp. Included with admission.

The Imagine Children’s Museum’s in Everett: The theme for this year's New Year's bash is crazy hair night, complete with a crazy hair station. Enjoy a slew of other activities including live music, comedy, balloon sculpting, rocket racing and a scavenger hunt, plus snacks for purchase. This New Year’s Eve party begins at 7 p.m. and the evening culminates in an East Coast midnight (that’s 9 p.m. here) ball drop that promises to be “spectacular.” Ball drop is outdoors, rain or shine. Tickets $10–$15 advance, $15–$20 at the door, space permitting.

Hands On Children's Museum Noon Year's Eve Party: From 10 a.m.–3 p.m. on New Year's Eve, celebrate mad science with exciting bubbly chemical reactions. Dr. Science will be in attendance working with kids to make ice cream using liquid nitrogen. For kids who love to move, the nonstop dance party will be going on in the Outdoor Discovery Center. Plus a special meet-and-greet with Frozen princesses Elsa and Anna takes place noon–2 p.m. Admission is $10/child and $4/ accompanying adult. Preregistration required.

Matthews Beach plunge, seattle.govNew Year’s Day: Friday, Jan. 1

Polar Bear Plunges: If you're seeking a truly invigorating start to 2016, we suggest one of the region’s several Polar Bear Plunges. Pick your poison — the Sound or a lake. For Lake Washington, try the Matthews Beach plunge, reportedly the oldest in the area. Even if you can’t stomach a dip, it’s fun to watch others show their courage. But bring your towel just in case. All free.

Resolution Run and Polar Plunge: A 5k run at Magnuson Park in Seattle with an optional Polar Bear Dive into Lake Washington just prior to the event finish line will start the new year in memorable fashion. The post-race celebration includes a free kids' dash for children 10 and under, a beer garden for those age 21 and over, and a free chili feed for all. $30–$45; kids' dash free.

Skate into 2016: Glide your way into the new year, with five holiday ice rinks, including Bellevue's Magic Season, Polar Plaza in Tacoma, Seattle Center's Winterfest, Redmond Town Center's skating rink and Snoqualmie's Winter Magic. All are open New Year's Day.

Catch the last glow of Christmas: Fabulous sparkly holiday displays can be a part of your family's New Year's fun at one of the following locations: Wildlights at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Garden d'Lights in Bellevue, Ivar's Clam Lights in Renton, Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Park and Holiday Lights at Wild Waves in Federal Way.

Saturday, Jan. 2: 

Kindie New Year: Celebrate the beginning of 2016 with a rockin' concert by one of Seattle's favorite kid performers, Caspar Babypants, at Mount Baker Community Center. The show starts at 10:30 a.m. and there is a countdown to noon, with a super-fun balloon drop. "Mocktail party attire" encouraged. Cost is $15 for a family of four, advance purchase, or $5 per person at the door.

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