A mug-and-candy-cane photo op, the carousel and vendor village at the Seattle Christmas Market. Credit: Nancy Chaney
In a string of Seattle specialty holiday attractions, the Seattle Christmas Market is the latest. The market, held on the grounds of Seattle Center, aims to bring the festive fun of a European-style outdoor Christmas market to North America.
If you’re a teeny bit skeptical of spending money on admission for the opportunity to spend money shopping from vendors, we’re with you. Add in kids and you want to know what it’s all about.
We are always in favor of fabulous and free holiday outings, but when something new and interesting comes around, we’re curious. So we went to check out the new Seattle Christmas Market to investigate attending with kids.
What is there to do at the Seattle Christmas Market?
First off, know that admission to the market costs $20 for adults and $12 for youth ages 7–17. Kids ages 6 and younger enter free. For a family of four with two kids older than age 6, you’re looking at $73.23 after taxes and fees are added in.
Here’s what we found that will appeal to kids:
The carousel: Unlimited carousel rides are included with admission. Line up to go again and again. On the afternoon we visited, we noticed a rooster and a zebra to ride on, in addition to the traditional horses, and the carousel was spinning quickly. Kids must be age 2 or older to ride.
Letters to Santa: Kids can write a letter to Santa at a small desk. If they write their letter and drop it in the market’s Santa Mailbox by Dec. 20, they’ll receive a reply from the big man himself.
Scavenger hunt: Kids can get a scavenger hunt sheet and try to find all the listed items by searching around the market. Pick up a sheet at the info booth by the entrance.
Augmented reality: We didn’t get to try this, but there are three stations around the market that will tell a story by scanning a QR code.
On St. Nikolaus Nights, which are Wednesdays, Dec. 6, Dec. 13 and Dec. 20 (4–9 p.m.), you can snap your own photos with a very friendly and jolly Santa. He’s dressed in blue (!) and stationed inside the Alpen Haus (Fisher Pavilion) in front of a festive background. Taking a photo with Santa is included in your admission, but you’ll want to book your entry tickets for one of these Wednesdays without delay, if you want to visit Santa.
Select days feature live painting with Henry, the beloved local mural artist of walrus-riding-a-bike fame. Find Henry in action Dec. 11–13 (noon–4 p.m.), Dec. 18–21 (check times on website). Henry will have lots of smaller paintings for sale that would make fantastic gifts for kids and adults alike.
Seattle Christmas Market additional features
Other aspects of the market will appeal more to adults. A range of vendors offer gift items, some handmade. We noticed a vendor selling cute potted succulents, one selling fuzzy hats with faux fur pompoms on top and a vendor selling pretty painted ceramics from Poland. Other artisan vendors offer soap, candles, jam, sweets and jewelry.
At the center of the market sits a life-size Christmas pyramid, which is a traditional German holiday decoration. On the day we visited a live oompah band played from the pyramid’s second level. At ground level, adults can buy a cup of Gluhwein — hot mulled wine — for $9.50. A cute commemorative mug will cost you an additional $9.50.
In addition to the vendors selling artisan crafts and wares, the main draws of the market are food and drink. Food vendors line the west side of the market area and tables lined up in the Alpen Haus look ready for Oktoberfest-style festivities. Buy your Wiener schnitzel dinner and a Bavarian-style beer (for grown-ups) and grab a seat in the hall.
The Seattle Christmas Market provides a fun, spirited atmosphere for shopping, eating and drinking. Live entertainment and special events add an extra-festive feeling. Families with kids who will love riding the carousel, who like trying different foods or who may want the opportunity to meet a German-style Santa will enjoy a visit to the Seattle Christmas Market. A date night with a partner or an outing of friends would also be fun.
If you go...
Find it: The Seattle Christmas Market is held at Seattle Center, on the lawn by the International Fountain and inside Fisher Pavilion.
When: The market is open daily through Dec. 24. Hours vary, generally afternoon and evening open hours Monday–Thursday, and longer hours Friday–Sunday.
Tickets: Adult admission costs $20, youth admission for ages 7–17 is $12 and kids ages 6 and younger enter free. Seniors ages 65 and older pay $16. Book your timed-entry tickets online and plan for added taxes and fees. Arrive within your half-hour entry slot and stay as long as you wish. Occasional discounts and season passes are also available.
Entertainment and special events: Check the market’s calendar for entertainment and other happenings, including trivia, karaoke and St. Nikolaus nights.
Carousel rules: Everyone ages 2 or older and at least 36 inches in height may ride the carousel. Tots between 36 and 42 inches in height must ride with an adult. Kids at least 42 inches in height may ride alone. Carousel rides are included with market admission.
Food and drink: A variety of food and drink options are available for purchase, including alcohol for adults ages 21 and older. Food offerings tend toward German-style — think brats and pretzels, but there are many different booths offering food. A cup of mulled wine or a beer costs $9.50. Note that drinking alcohol is allowed anywhere inside the market, and outside food and drink are not allowed, except for small snacks for toddlers or young children.
More seasonal fun around Seattle: