Holidays always magical in the Big City
Ah, yes, Christmas in Seattle – the only thing that could possibly be missing would be snow. But don´t count on it. In several past years the snow has fallen precisely during the Christmas holidays, sometimes even causing snow days off from work because, well, Seattle doesn´t do snow very well.
But whether you have snow or not, your Christmas holiday in Seattle is going to be magical. It has to do with the majestic setting of the city with its lakes, canals and Puget Sound waterfront and its hills and historic buildings. On a sunny day – and believe it or not there are some of these in Seattle – this city will take second to no city in America as far as the area´s natural beauty.
And remember, Christmas in Seattle is not all downtown. Just an hour to the east are the Cascade Mountains which, we can assure you, really do get snow at Christmas time. Pick a good-weather day and drive on up to Snoqualmie Pass to watch the holiday ski crowd or take a little drive away from the ski area to pretend you´re looking for your own Christmas tree. Just remember, if you´re coming into Seattle by air, be sure and rent a 4-wheel-drive. You´ll be glad you did.
But back to the events in Seattle. The downtown takes on a whole new character in the Christmas season with the decorations and lights and the throngs of shoppers crowding the upscale stores. Take your pick – mall shopping at Westlake Center or a more traditional shopping experience along the storefronts in the same general vicinity. You can even hop the monorail from Westlake Center and head for Seattle Center, site of the 1962 World´s Fair, where you´ll find holiday shows and decorations and a spirit you won´t soon forget. During the Christmas season the Seattle Center comes alive with Winterfest which includes an ice rink as well as a winter train and village. Visitors will see ice sculpting and can enjoy a bonfire as well as other planned events.
Don´t forget to stop by the Pike Place Market during the holidays where you´ll find special foods and merchandise to make your Christmas that much more special. The hustle and bustle of this famous waterfront area attraction is pure energy and the local shoppers´ joy is contagious.
Another really Christmassy thing to do in Seattle is the Argosy Christmas Ship, which has been a tradition for several decades. Every night up until Christmas Eve, the Christmas Ship travels to various waterfront cities and towns in the Seattle area. There are choirs aboard the ship that give a 20-minute performance that is guaranteed to get you in the mood for Christmas.
When the Christmas Ship pulls into one of these burgs, there are large groups of people who light up their own bonfires to keep warm and then join in the Christmas caroling and other festivities. The Christmas Ship actually is followed by a parade of ships – just a bunch of local boat owners who can´t stay off the water even during the coldest days of the year and who often decorate their vessels to offer their own Christmas spectacle.
The Pacific Northwest Ballet´s Nutcracker is well worth attending – each year this is a family favorite presented at the Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. It´s the one Christmas show you won´t want to miss.
And don´t miss the Seattle Festival of Trees, an event featuring the most uniquely decorated Christmas trees you´ll find anywhere. Each tree is available for pre-purchase or bid and proceeds go to the Seattle Children´s Hospital.
About a half-hour drive south of Seattle is Tacoma, well worth visiting for the annual Zoolights celebration at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. This holiday light display allows you to stroll through the zoo while you enjoy the special holiday lighting as well as entertainment, hot chocolate and even a carousel ride.
Photos, from top: Christmas train at Seattle Center
Photos by Cary and Sandi Ordway