What to Do in Seattle During the Fall & Winter Holiday Season

December 5, 2023

Updated December 5, 2023

The weather may be wet and the days may be shorter during the winter, but that won’t stop Seattleites from having fun. With a good rain jacket or an umbrella, you can enjoy activities inside and out. Skip the crowds and save some money by traveling in the off season. Here are our top recommendations on what to do in Seattle during the fall and winter holiday season.

trees with golden leaves with blue sky and blue lake in background
Fall at Greenlake

View Fall Color

Get outside! Some of the best spots in Seattle to see stunning fall color are right in the neighborhood. Green Lake Park, right across the street, is always considered to be a top pick. Stroll the 2.8-mile perimeter of the lake in late September until early December for an ever-changing show of color. Other great spots for walking through the foliage in north Seattle include the Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle Japanese Garden, Fremont Canal Park, and the University of Washington campus.

Embrace Seattle’s Lively Theater and Music Scene:

We are fortunate to have so many local options for good theater and music. Seattle is home to the Seattle Opera, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and the Seattle Symphony.  From neighborhood theaters like Taproot and Seattle Public Theater, to large downtown venues like ACT Theatre, the 5th Avenue, the Paramount, and McCaw Hall there is something for everyone. Some popular music venues include the Neptune, Moore Theater, the Triple Door, Jazz Alley, and Benaroya Hall. For the biggest names, check the schedule at our brand-new Climate Pledge Arena.

During the holidays, Seattle Public Theater, located on the shores of Green Lake in the historic Bathhouse Theater, puts on a very popular, campy Christmas show each year: A Very Die-Hard Christmas. Other popular Seattle holiday cultural traditions include the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker and ACT Theatre’s A Christmas Carol. Returning after a hiatus in 2023: Langston Hughes' much loved Black Nativity, at the Intiman Theatre.

Attend a Professional Football or Hockey Game

The Seattle Seahawks Football team plays at Lumen Field, just a few blocks south of downtown. Seattle fans (aka the 12’s) are enthusiastic and noisy. Seattle’s newest professional sports team is the Kraken men’s hockey team. The Kraken play at Climate Pledge Arena from October through early April. If you can’t get to a hockey game, consider attending a free practice session at their official training facility at nearby Northgate Station, just a few minutes from our B&B.

Visit a Top-Rated Museum

Seattle is home to dozens of museums of all sizes. It’s hard to choose just one or two!  Our very top recommendations include the vast and fascinating Museum of Flight, and the stunningly beautiful Chihuly Garden & Glass. Other great contenders include the Wing Luke Museum and the Museum of History and Industry.

Holiday Lights and Festivals:

Seattle’s light festivals help brighten up the nights and many are low cost or free. Here are some of our favorites.

walkway lined with luminaria by a lake
Greenlake Pathway of Lights

Pathway of Lights at Green Lake

December 9, 4:30 – 7:30 PM

This annual event on the second Saturday in December lights up the 2.8-mile path around Green Lake with luminaries. Local musicians add to the ambiance with seasonal tunes at four points around the lake. Visitors can sip hot chocolate or cider as they take in the view. Greenlake Pathway of Lights is free, but non-perishable food donations are suggested.

WildLanterns at the Zoo

November 10 – January 14 (Closed on Mondays and on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. Open New Year's Day)

The Woodland Park Zoo never fails to come up with creative events that locals and visitors alike come to enjoy. WildLanterns is an outdoor immersive experience with enormous animal lanterns and scenes from all around the globe. Every year, it gets bigger and better. Food and beverages are available for sale. Located just a few minutes' drive from Greenlake Guest House.

Gingerbread Village at the downtown Seattle Sheraton Hotel

November 21 – January 1

In this special annual event, local architecture firms and the hotel’s culinary team join together to create gingerbread masterpieces that can be viewed in the lobby 24 hours a day. The designers get a new theme every year. Visitors get the chance to vote for their favorite display. The event is free, but suggested donations go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Northwest Chapter.

Seattle Christmas Ship Festival

November 24-December 23

This unique ship to shore holiday celebration has been a Seattle tradition since 1949. The Christmas Ship is decorated with hundreds of lights and sails to 40 Puget Sound waterfront communities. Choirs perform to guests on board as well as to the boat parade and to communities gathered around bonfires on shore. See website to get tickets to ride on the ship and to see a schedule of stops.

Space Needle fireworks
New Year's at the Needle

T-Mobile New Year’s at the Needle & More

Celebrate the arrival of the new year with fireworks show at the top of Seattle’s iconic Space Needle. Last year, guests were encouraged to avoid crowds and disburse to smaller viewing locations around the area or watch the event live on television.  It’s been the biggest New Year’s Eve celebration on the west coast for 9 years. Other Seattle New Year's Eve celebrations include a New Year's Eve Concert & Party with the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall, a 21+ Late Night Cruise or NYE Dinner Cruise, and more.

Enjoy Relaxing Here

Last, guests are always welcome to relax and enjoy the cozy ambiance here inside the inn. Pick a movie from our extensive collection or sit by the cozy fire with a good book. Sip our complimentary wine and hot beverages and eat the snacks and homemade cookies. During the month of December, we'll continue our annual tradition of baking 25 Days of Christmas Cookies for our guests.