A Guide to Seattle’s Must-Do Downtown Holiday Attractions

We’ve gathered all the Seattle Christmas events in one spot so your fam can get into the holiday spirit with ease

After a couple of quiet years, Seattle is buzzing again this holiday season with returning and new favorite holiday events to explore. In fact, with so many things to do in downtown Seattle, you and the kids don’t need to go anywhere else to find (or spread) winter cheer. Our list (don’t worry, we checked it twice) includes everything from Santa sightings and steamy cups of hot cocoa paired with carolers to festive music, dancing nutcrackers, and a lot more. So get out your calendar, it’s time to schedule the Seattle Christmas events you really want to make time for this season.

Seattle holiday events you won’t want to miss

Kringle's Filling Station

Kringle's Filling Station

Part arcade, part neighborhood hangout, Kringle's Filling Station is perfect for families with older children. This pop-up event has set up shop along Aurora Ave. at an old gas station. Legend has it that the Kringle Family has come to offer hot chocolate out of the old gas tanks (don't worry, it's completely safe and sanitary!), let guests play unlimited rounds of "Ski-Ball", play "Reindeer Games" or sing holiday karaoke. You even have exclusive access to the Kringles' private office. Add-ons include the brand-new Speedway Slot Cars and photo booth aboard Santa's new-and-improved sleigh (you'll have to see it to believe it). 

Good to Know: Be sure to order your tickets online to reserve your time.

Dates: Nov. 25, 2022-Jan. 1, 2023 

8211 Aurora Ave. N.
Online: kringlesfillingstation.com

Related: The City's Best Places for Santa Photos

Gingerbread Village at the Sheraton Grand Seattle

We are beyond thrilled to see that the annual Gingerbread Village is back at the Sheraton Grand Seattle this year. If you've never been or if it has been a while, this really is a must-see event. Now in its 28th year, the event matches Seattle's top architecture firms, master builders, and the Sheraton Grand Seattle's culinary teams to create amazing works of edible art. This year's theme is focusing on Buzz Lightyear, but don't be surprised if a few other Toy Story characters show up too. Some of the gingerbread creations have great names like "Courage Against Zurg," "The Future is Bright," and of course, "To Infinity and Beyond!" While the exhibit is free, donations will be gladly accepted to go to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation (JDRF).

Dates: Nov. 22, 2022-Jan. 1, 2023

Sheraton Grand Seattle
1400 6th Ave.
Online: jdrf.org

Seattle Center Winterfest

Seattle Center is doing it up for the holidays starting the day after Thanksgiving and running through the New Year. If you're looking for free and affordable holiday activities and entertainment, head to the heart of the city. Kids can marvel as a miniature locomotive makes it way through a turn-of-the-century village inside the Armory and complete a scavenger hunt while they're at it (you'll find sheets at the train station). Follow it up with a weekend ice sculpting demonstration or a live performance at the Armory (hint: we're looking forward to the School of Rock Seattle performance on December 10, SANCA's youth performers on December 17, and the KlezKids performance on the 24th) before grabbing something tasty for dinner. Wander through the Campus Luminata light display and end at the International Fountain where things are always hopping before heading home.

Holiday highlight: Take a trip to the top of the Space Needle to grab a picture with jolly old St. Nick in his glass sleigh. Seeing the city's Christmas lights below are totally worth the trip. As for New Year's Eve, plan an evening of music at Seattle Center, or if your kids won't last that long, plan to spend the day at the Seattle Children's Museum for their Winter Market Event featuring a "Noon Year's Eve" pj party and a sock skating rink.

Dates: Nov. 25-Dec. 31, 2022

305 Harrison St.
Online: seattlecenter.com

white glass sculptures are part of Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit a seattle christmas event for this year
courtesy Chihuly Garden and Glass

Winter Brilliance

While you're at Seattle Center, be sure to swing into Chihuly Garden and Glass to see Winter Brilliance. The display features over 700 hand-blown glass sculptures and combines glass art, video projection technology, and music for a full-sensory experience. One of the newest Seattle Christmas events, it celebrates the magic of the season in a whole new way. Catch the show in Gallery 1 into the new year when you visit.

Dates: Nov. 17, 2022-Feb. 28, 2023

Chihuly Garden and Glass
305 Harrison St.
Online: chihulygardenandglass.com

Photo © Angela Sterling

George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

With lavish sets and costumes designed by Ian Falconer (of Olivia fame) and the ever-mesmerizing choreography of Balanchine, Pacific Northwest Ballet’s George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker is a forever favorite for many Seattle families. This full-length show is best suited for school-aged kids, but theatergoers of all ages will be glued to their seats for the entire two-plus hour show, basking in the care and craftsmanship of this delightful production. The 40-foot-tall Christmas tree, snow flurries on stage and Mother Ginger’s magical skirt (it weighs more than 60 pounds!) are all part of what makes this production one of the best around.

Insider Tip: A sensory-friendly performance is scheduled for December 21 at 2 p.m.

Dates: Nov. 25-Dec. 27, 2022

McCaw Hall
321 Mercer St.
Event details

Paddington Saves Christmas

Another theater production you won't want to miss is SCT's latest. Even the tiniest theater lovers will be able to enjoy this holiday show, starring their favorite clumsy Bear, Paddington. With his telltale red hat and blue coat, they’ll fall for Paddington’s innocent antics as he works to save Christmas from being a total disaster. It all starts out simply enough—with Paddington and Mrs. Bird making the holiday marmalade (for Paddington’s sandwiches, of course). But oops!—they’ve run out of sugar. A trip to borrow some from grumpy neighbor, Mr. Curry, turns into more than Paddington bargained for when he agrees to help out with household chores in exchange. Things sort of snowball from there, leaving poor Paddington to fix it all before December 25. The show runs for 70 minutes with no intermission.

Insider Tip: There is a sensory-friendly performance scheduled for Dec. 11 at 11 a.m.

Dates: Nov. 15-Dec. 31, 2022

Seattle Children's Theatre
201 Thomas St.
Event details

Related: Bravo! 17 Must-See Holiday Shows for Families

Downtown Seattle Association

Holiday Lights & Delights

Ride the monorail from Seattle Center to Westlake Park to take advantage of this larger-than-life holiday display that features over 80,000 lights. All season long, enjoy memory-making moments with Holiday Lights & Delights and enjoy free, family-friendly activities at Westlake Park and Occidental Square each weekend. Don't forget your phones! In addition, enjoy live music by local artists on Fridays (Dec. 9 & 16) from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. at Westlake Park. This is where you'll also find Family Fun featuring crafts, characters, and snow flurries on Saturday, December 10 and 17. Or you can head on over to Pioneer Square on the same days to hear live carolers while sipping free cocoa and munching on cookies from noon-3 p.m.

Dates: Nov. 25, 2022-Jan. 7, 2023

Westlake Park
401 Pine St.

Occidental Square
117 S. Washington St.
Online: downtownseattle.org

Related: Watts Up: The Coolest Light Displays in Seattle You Need to See

kids are ice skating a special christmas activity at an outdoor rink

Pop-Up Ice Skating Rink at Occidental Square

For one weekend only, families can enjoy this pop-up ice skating rink in downtown Seattle. Free for everyone, the ice rink will be filled with skaters of all ages and abilities. If you’ve got your own skates, bring them along. If not, they’ll have skates on hand to borrow. Just remember to bundle up—this rink is totally outside.

Date: Dec. 9-11, 2022

117 S. Washington St.
Event details

Related: Take a Spin around Seattle's Seasonal (& Year-Round) Ice Skating Rinks

Teddy Bear Suite at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel

Big bears, lil’ bears, brown bears, white bears! This beary special holiday event is a must-see for kids of all ages. Located inside the elegant Fairmont Olympic Hotel, the Teddy Bear Suite is exactly that and so much more. See teddy bears galore along with beautiful holiday decorations and Christmas trees. The Teddy Bear Suite is also the perfect spot to grab a holiday photo of the kids (think: cute, cuddly holiday cards) or chillax and enjoy a teddy bear-themed book. Psst! After visiting the Teddy Bear Suite on the second floor, stop by the lower lobby to check out the hotel's magnificent gingerbread display made out of 4,000 real gingerbread bricks.

Good to know: ​Donations are appreciated to benefit uncompensated care at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the Seattle Children's Autism Center.

Dates: Nov. 25, 2022-Jan. 1, 2023

411 University St.
Online: seattlefestivaloftrees.com

one of the best seattle christmas events around is watching diving santa at the Seattle Aquarium
Seattle Aquarium

Diving Santa

Did you know that when Santa isn’t supervising elves and delivering toys, he's scuba diving? Come see for yourself when he dives in the Seattle Aquarium’s Window on Washington Waters exhibit this holiday season. While you're there, enjoy live holiday music, story times with Santa, marine mammal meet and greets, and more. 

Seattle Aquarium
1483 Alaskan Way

Urban Craft Uprising at South Lake Union Winter Market

Families can shop 'til they drop at Urban Craft Uprising's annual outdoor winter show, held outside the Nitro Building in South Lake Union. It's the easy way to shop small and local this holiday season. The event is free and family-friendly, and it will feature different vendors on different days, so you can go twice to see all the goodies.

Dates: Dec. 8 & 9, 2022

Outside the Nitro Building
2250 7th Ave.
Online: urbancraftuprising.com