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The Play List: Highlighted Seattle-Area Family Events and Outings for December 2022

15 ways to be merry and bright

Nancy Chaney

Published on: November 28, 2022

Family in the snow together looking happy

And just like that, the winter holidays are upon us, along with the attendant flurry of festive activities! Perhaps amid the holiday hubbub, some of us will want to consider quality, not quantity, in the pursuit of family memory-making and cheer. To that end, we present you with this stocking full of mostly free ideas for making merry this holiday season.

  • Snowflake Lane is Bellevue’s spectacle of the spectacular. Stake out a spot on the sidewalk near Bellevue Square to see the “snow” fall and watch drummers and dancers perform along the parade route. This over-the-top nightly event is a must-see, at least once. Daily through Dec. 24 at 7 p.m. Free.
  • Stop by the Seattle Center Armory to admire a delightful model train and surrounding holiday village setup, part of Winterfest. Pick up a scavenger-hunt sheet to see if you can spot all of the items in the village. The train is on display daily through Dec. 31 (except Dec. 25), 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Viewing is free; donations to keep the trains running are accepted. 
  • Holy candy extravaganza! Seattle’s beloved holiday Gingerbread Village is back at Sheraton Grand Seattle. Stop by the hotel lobby to feast your eyes on elaborate, sweet and surprisingly architectural masterpieces of gingerbread and candy. Viewing the Gingerbread Village is free, though donations to the local chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation are appreciated. Open daily through Jan. 1, including on Christmas Day. 
  • Lovely Lakewold Gardens hosts an enchanting holiday light show, Winter Solstice Lights, which includes a special techy twist. Wander the garden’s pathways to admire the lights while listening to music composed on the spot by an algorithm reading weather and environmental data. Intriguing, no? Show open daily through Jan. 2. Tickets $12–$16; ages 5 and younger free. 
  • An Eastside family favorite, Bellevue’s Downtown Ice Rink sets up for its 25th year. Families can get started by learning to ice skate at free, all-ages skating lessons on select dates (you still need to book your rink entry). Check online for more special events, such as an ugly-sweater-themed skating session on Dec. 25. Open daily through Jan. 8. Entry is $14–$17 and includes skate rental.
  • Olympia’s seasonal ice rink, Oly on Ice, is back for your gliding and sliding pleasure this winter. You’ll find the rink in Isthmus Park in downtown Olympia; dress warmly, and it’s recommended to book your skating session online ahead of time to avoid disappointment. Open daily through Jan. 16, including on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Admission costs $9–$15; $5 for tots ages 3 and younger (entry includes skate rental). 
  • Visit Ballard’s National Nordic Museum on free First Thursday, Dec. 1, to enjoy both free admission and Nordic Stories; this month features a charming tale by beloved children’s author Jan Brett, “The Wild Christmas Reindeer.” The museum is open 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Nordic Stories is 10–10:30 a.m., free.
"Holiday lights"
The Lights of Christmas display at Warm Beach Camp
  • Even with COVID-19 in the rearview mirror (for the most part), Warm Beach Camp in Stanwood is keeping the drive-through format for its holiday light spectacle, The Lights of Christmas. Greet Santa and other characters, and view the beautiful light displays while you stay warm and cozy in your car. Select dates through Dec. 31. Entry starts at $27 per carload. 
  • Quick! You have just one weekend to partake in the hilarious holiday merriment that is Studio East’s stage show “’Twas the Night …” This comic twist on the traditional poem will make even the grumpiest Scrooge in your family laugh out loud. At Kirkland Performance Center. Multiple showtimes, Friday–Sunday, Dec. 2–4. Tickets $21–$26. 
  • Renton’s Holiday Lights replaces the beloved beachfront light display known as Clam Lights. Visit Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park — maybe bring a flashlight for a twilight romp on the fantastic playground? — to enjoy the free light show 5–9 p.m. nightly, Dec. 2–Jan. 1.
  • Join ParentMap for its next ParentEd Talks event on Tuesday, Dec. 6, when it welcomes author Julie Bogart. Bogart will help parents learn to guide their kids toward digital literacy. Log in to the webinar live 1–2 p.m. or register to receive a recording if you can’t join at that time. Self-selecting sliding-scale fee of $0–$15. 
  • Stroum Jewish Community Center welcomes kids for hands-on Hanukkah activities at several locations around town! Pop by to spin a dreidel, craft a toy menorah and more. Activities are free on select dates, Dec. 9–22, at locations such as Bellevue Botanical Garden, Crossroads and U Village, among others. 
  • Visit Auburn’s White River Valley Museum for making art and having holiday fun on a special Festival of Trees Family Day. Take inspiration from beautiful dream-inspired holiday trees on display, designed by local artists. Saturday, Dec. 10, noon–4 p.m. Free.
  • Got cabin fever? Brave the winter elements and make the most of the short hours of daylight on a ranger-led exploration of the trails in fascinating Mercer Slough Nature Park. Preregister for this free activity, which is best for ages 5 and older, but all are welcome. Sunday, Dec. 11, 2–3:30 p.m. 
  • Head to Kirkland’s Marina Park to hear the story of Hanukkah and witness the lighting of the Grand Menorah, marking the beginning of the holiday. Sunday, Dec. 18, 4–6 p.m. Free. 

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