13 Holiday Things to Do in Seattle (December 2023)

That festive feeling 💝

📸: “Wonka” – Screening at SIFF Cinema Downtown starting Thursday, December 14th

In case you missed it: Chocolate popcorn is back. (Have no idea what we’re talking about? Catch up!)

The sweetest arts event of the season is the reopening of the former Cinerama theater, now operated by the Seattle International Film Festival and called SIFF Cinema Downtown. Starting December 14th, SIFF will screen the Timothée Chalamet-led Wonka, delighting audiences with treats both on screen and in hands.

But that’s just the tip of what Seattle offers for the holidays, ranging from outdoor winter solstice celebrations to holiday mariachi (merry-achi?) performances. Let’s get into it 🎁 

Seahawks vs. Steelers @ Lumen Field

The last game of 2023 🎉

📸: NFL

📅 Sunday, December 31st
⏰ Kickoff 1:05 pm
📍 Lumen Field: 800 Occidental Ave S, Seattle

It’s New Year’s Eve. You’ve done all the preparations. There’s a bucket full of Gatorade ready to go. You put on shoulder pads, knee pads, and cleats, stick a mouthguard in, strap on a helmet, then exit the locker room to the sounds of 78,000 people making LOUD NOISES. What the hell kind of NYE party is this? And why is it so early? Because it’s football Sunday, ya dweebs, and the Seahawks are about to get a taste of Pittsburgh steel!

This match against the Steelers will be their last home game of the regular season, so we’ll likely know where the Hawks stand ahead of time. As I write this in late November, the San Francisco 49ers sit atop the NFC West division, while Seattle must settle for a wild card spot. No shame in that, and no shame in going to this game, even if it ends up being a looser “see you next year” experience.

So come out to Lumen Field at 1:05 pm and, as local comedian Emmett Montgomery would say, enjoy the hot dogs and collective screaming. The game should be over by 4:30 pm, meaning you still have plenty of time to get into another outfit and have a hell of an evening as you ring in 2024. Or go into the night in your throwback jersey; I’m not here to judge your fashion style.


Seattle Christmas Market @ Seattle Center

Frohe Weihnachten 🎅

📸: Vancouver Christmas Market

A colorful set up of Christmas decorations from the Vancouver Christmas Market

📆 Friday, November 24th – Sunday, December 24th
⏰ Open daily
📍Seattle Center: South Fountain Lawn and Fisher Pavilion
🎟 $13+ for kids 7-17 | $21+ for adults 

Nothing says Christmas cheer quite like a monthlong Christmas market.

From the brains behind the Vancouver Christmas Market, the new Seattle Christmas Market is setting up shop at the Fisher Pavilion and South Fountain Lawn in the Seattle Center this year. Inspired by holiday markets in Germany and Europe, this daily market brings together local artists and Christmas-themed entertainment for all to get their Christmas kicks. When announcing the festival, organizers called the Seattle Christmas Market a “true feast for the senses” with tons of Xmas decor, handmade wares, food, and a one-of-a-kind “Christmas Pyramid” unique to Seattle.

Once you buy your ticket for a timeslot entry, you’re free to peruse 60 artisan huts filled with handmade items—everything from Genna Fong’s fiber ornaments to jars of fermented veggies from Skagit Valley’s Junebug Ferments. You’ll get the whole German experience with food vendors selling Glühwein (spiced mulled wine) in the Christmas pyramid, warm pretzels, craft German beer, crispy schnitzel, and–of course!—bratwurst with hot German mustard.

Your time isn’t just limited to food and gifts. There’ll be an included Christmas Carousel for you and your family (over the age of 2!) to take a whirl on, a 30-foot-tall Christmas tree adorned with 50,000 lights you can walk underneath, a sparkling Lovers’ Lane to sneak a little kiss under the mistletoe, and a place to snap a pic with ol’ St. Nick. If you’ve had enough Glühwein, perhaps you’ll have the courage to attempt your own version of “All I Want for Christmas is You” at their holiday karaoke party

Go forth and immerse yourself in Christmas fun! Or Frohe Weihnachten, as they say in Germany!


The Dina Martina Christmas Show 2023 @ ACT Theatre


📸: Dina Martina

Dina Martina "trapped" in the moon. Picture is in black and white

📅 Friday, December 8th – Sunday, December 24th
📍 ACT Theatre: 700 Union Street, Seattle
🎟 $39+

No one would classify the Christmas shows I recommend as “normal”—who would want that?—but The Dina Martina Christmas Show likely takes the holiday fruitcake in WTFness. Even a quarter of a century into its run, the show still surprises with its sheer off-kilter, off-key, off-the-wall bizarreness. Provincetown Magazine calls it “chaos drag,” while Out In New Jersey describes Dina as having “the grace of a giraffe slipping down a water slide.” For people in need of something… let’s broadly say “non-traditional”… it’s time to slap on some big red lipstick and get on down to ACT Theatre.

The self-proclaimed Second Lady of Entertainment, “tragic singer, horrible dancer, and surreal raconteur,” Dina has one Stranger Genius Award and three Seattle Times Footlight Awards, plus she has a huge, vocal fan in longtime troublemaking provocateur John Waters. (To wit, Dina would fit right into the ensemble of, say, 1974’s Female Trouble.) All of this tracks, as what first appears to be weird performance gaffes, fumbling malapropisms, and non sequiturs become the central point and drawing factors of the show. Aggressive mischief, seemingly free-associative comedy, and fever dream imagery; what a stocking stuffer.


Holiday Fun Run @ Magnuson Park

Pound the pavement 🏃‍♀️💨🎄

📸: Magnuson Series

🗓 Saturday, December 23rd
⏰ 10 am 
📍 Magnuson Park: 7400 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle
🎟 5k run/walk: $28-32
🎟 10k run/walk: $34-$38
🎟 15k run: $39-$43
🎟 400 meter kids dash $5
🎟 Half marathon run: $49
🎟 Duathlon (run bike run): $49

If the thrill of having multiple family members set up camp at your house while you try to finish holiday shopping, wrap gifts, and cook everyone food isn’t enough for you, I think a holiday fun run could be an excellent way to up this season’s ante

The Magnuson Series (“a series for all seasons,” as the group says on its site) is a running and walking event hosted regularly throughout the year for people to get outside, rain or shine, and focus on their health. The looped course goes through Magnuson Park and includes several events: a 5k, 10k, and 15k run/walk, 400-meter kids dash, half marathon run, and duathlon (run bike run). Strollers and leashed dogs can accompany you on this run, and proceeds from the event go to charity, either Earth Runs or another featured charity of the month. 

Organizers note that participants should be mindful of other parkgoers trying to use the park for non-jogging activities. Wear your best and breezy holiday-themed sweater and pound the pavement!


Merry Movie Matinees @ City Hall Park

Lunchtime treats 🎥

📸: Warner Bros. Pictures

A stern animated Tom Hanks acts as a train conductor in the animated 2004 film Polar Express.

I prefer to see movies as early in the day as possible, so I’m excited about the Merry Movies Matinees at City Hall Park, where you can swing by at noon, get some free hot cocoa or a coffee, and enjoy holiday cinematic treats.

🧝 Elf
📆 Tuesday, December 5th
⏰ 12 pm
📍 City Hall Park: 450 3rd Ave, Seattle
🎟 Free
Speaking of Broadway properties, swing by City Hall to catch this beloved Will Ferrell comedy, then do a quick internet search to see which of likely many schools/theatre companies within a 30-mile radius are staging the 2010 musical version for you to see.

👹 National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
📆 Tuesday, December 12th
⏰ 12 pm
📍 City Hall Park: 450 3rd Ave, Seattle
🎟 Free
If you like your Christmas movies a little more rambunctious, let the Griswolds help you ring in the holiday cheer and let you know that, no matter how bad you think your family holidays are going, it could always go way, way worse.

👹 The Polar Express
📆 Tuesday, December 19th
⏰ 12 pm
📍 City Hall Park: 450 3rd Ave, Seattle
🎟 Free
Robert Zemeckis’ 2004 motion capture-animated adventure, which follows a young boy on a roller coaster of a nighttime journey to the North Pole, has been referred to as a waking nightmare, which is why I have a huge fondness for it. Go weird or go home.


Winter Bonsai Solstice @ Pacific Bonsai Museum

Another kind of Christmas tree 🎄

📸: Pacific Bonsai Museum

Bonsai Solstice in the evening

📅 Saturday, December 16th
⏰ 4 pm – 7 pm
📍 Pacific Bonsai Museum: 2515 S 336th Street, Federal Way
🎟 Suggested donation $12

They say that wisdom comes with age—and that knowledge combined with training can lead to natural inspiration. So ask yourself, when was the last time you let a tree teach you? At the Pacific Bonsai Museum’s winter solstice celebration, let carefully pruned miniature masterpieces bring some midwinter wonder into your life. 

The Pacific Bonsai Museum started as a private collection opened by the Weyerhaeuser Company in 1989 to commemorate Washington state’s centennial. In 2013, it was gifted to the community as a non-profit museum, and it’s currently one of two bonsai museums in the country. The collection includes a whopping 150 bonsai, and each displayed tree has a sign stating its date of origin and how long it’s been in training. (Basically, a tree’s date of origin = its birthdate, and its training date = when it was first cultivated as bonsai.) The oldest tree at the museum is a Korean Yew with an estimated birth year of… 1500! Making it over 500 years old! And the museum’s Domoto Maple, born in Japan, has been training in the United States since 1913. It’s believed to be one of the oldest bonsai in America.

For the solstice, wander around, taking in the trees. Afterward, enjoy free hot chocolate while listening to holiday music. Admission to the museum is by donation ($12 suggested). I recommend visiting the gift shop to find a present for the gardener in your life—and a final tip: The museum offers free public tours if you don’t make it out this time. Also, the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden is located next door. King County Library cardholders can reserve a pass to this museum and many others.


Wonka @ SIFF Cinema Downtown

Chocolate popcorn is back 🍿🍫

Timothée Chalamet in Wonka

📅 Opens Thursday, December 14th
📍 SIFF Cinema Downtown: 2100 4th Ave, Seattle

Praise Wonka. Seattle’s best cinema venue is reopening just in time for the holidays. And not a moment too soon. When the Cinerama closed mere weeks before the pandemic, all seemed lost. Then this past May, the Seattle International Film Festival—along with some assistance from a city that wants to keep its arts scene thriving—was able to reacquire it, clear out the cobwebs, and get it ready for a new populace. It has a new name—the previous owners did not have rights to the Cinerama trademark—but the movie palace is still in great shape, still has 35mm/70mm/Cinerama projection capabilities, and still has the venue’s famed chocolate popcorn.

So naturally they’d choose the charming, good-natured, family-friendly Roald Dahl prequel for their grand unveiling.

For some reason, people are suspicious of Timothée Chalamet. I don’t agree, but whatever. So how about I approach pitching Wonka in a different way. It’s a full-blown musical with songs by The Divine Comedy frontman Neil Hannon. It’s directed by Paul King, responsible for British cult TV hits Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and The Mighty Boosh before he made Paddington 1 2. And it’s co-written by Simon Farnaby (also of Boosh/Paddington fame), a writer/performer on beloved across-the-pond hits Horrible HistoriesYonderland, and Ghosts. I think that’s a good chemical makeup.

Some screenings are already on standby, but Wonka will play there through at least January 10th. There’s plenty of time to get yourself reacquainted with their comfy-as-hell seats, their expansive menu (beer and wine included!), and the most spectacular screen around.


Mariachi Sol de México @ The Moore Theatre

A Merry-Achi Christmas 🎄

📸: Jose Hernandez’ Merry-Achi Christmas

A performance of Jose Hernandez' Merry-Achi Christmas with Mariachi Sol de Mexico dressed in red.

📅 Wednesday, December 13th
⏰ Doors 6:30 pm | Show 7:30 pm
📍 The Moore Theatre: 1932 Second Ave, Seattle
🎟 $30+

Look, you haven’t lived until you’ve heard The Nutcracker live—mariachi-style

On Wednesday, December 13th, mariachi maestro José Hernández brings his traje de charro-donning symphony to the Moore Theatre to serenade Seattleites into this Christmas season. With his incredibly named Merry-Achi Christmas, José and Co. celebrate Mexico’s diverse Christmas traditions with renditions of Mexican and American holiday bangers. It’s colorful! It’s dramatic! It’s an excellent twist on Christmas concerts!

As a fifth-generation mariachi with roots in La Sierra del Tigre, Jalisco, Hernández has spent the last four decades uplifting and advancing the world of mariachi music. He’s a singer and multi-instrumentalist, playing trumpet, violin, guitarrón (a giant six-stringed bass guitar), and vihuela (a smaller five-stringed instrument). Over the years, he’s formed two widely known musical ensembles—Mariachi Sol de México and Reyna de Los Angeles, America’s first all-women professional mariachi ensemble.

Hernández and Mariachi Sol de México have performed for audiences worldwide and collaborated with artists like Selena, the Beach Boys, and Vicente Fernandez. He’s a big deal! Go and swoon to their take on “Silent Night”!


Seattle Santa Con @ Downtown Seattle

Christopher Clause Kringle is multiplying 🎅

📸: Seattle Santa Con

A very large group of people dressed as Santa standing in front of the Pike Place Market sign.

📍 Meeting location: TBA
⏰ Saturday, December 9th + Saturday, December 16th: 12 pm – 2 am

The Emerald City holds some fantastic conventions and gatherings. Of course, there’s Pax West, Emerald City Comic Con, Sakura Con, and even the Sea-Meow Convention. But only one takes thousands through the streets of downtown as Kris Kringle clones during the annual bar crawl, Santa Con.

The massive jolly-dressed convention happens in cities worldwide (maybe because Mr. Clause has to cross the globe to bring holiday cheer). The Seattle event gives amateur Santas two opportunities to don the suit—the first on Saturday, December 9th, and the second on Saturday, December 16th. There’s also a costume contest, so expect a spectrum of St. Nick. Uncle Sam Santa… Zombie Santa… Elves… Reindeer… and probably even the Grinch! No Santa suit hanging in the back of your closet? Don’t worry. Find the usual options at Amazon or Red Light for a wacky look (think Lydia’s red dress from Beetlejuice but as Ms. Claus). Plus, Costumes.com carries a collection for the event with 15% off.

The crawl goes a total of 14 hours. And it hits numerous bars along the route. Kells, Hidden Gems, Cowgirls Inc, Muse Lounge, Xtadium, Trinity Nightclub, Good Bar, Flatstick Pub Pioneer Square, Chapel Lounge, Merchant’s Cafe, and Taqueria Cantina are among the locations that will be offering drink specials. However, organizers will announce the starting location closer to the event. 

Santa Con is more than just a chance to wear a costume after Halloween or drink the day away. It’s also a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County, and a whopping $5,000 will be donated to the organization. So, Santa up!

Pro tip: Bring cash to speed up the process. Wear comfy shoes. Pace yourself and use public transportation (Santa doesn’t drink and drive). Tickets are discounted with a pre-sale till November 30th. There’s an additional discount if you buy tickets for both days. 


Holiday Punk Rock Flea Market @ Nii Modo

Get your taxidermy 🐇

📸: Punk Rock Flea Market

Two smiling vendors at the Punk Rock Flea Market

📆 Friday, December 8th – Sunday, December 10th
⏰ Doors @ 3 pm on Friday | Doors @ 12 pm on weekends
📍Nii Modo: 1404 3rd Ave, Seattle
🎟 $1 to enter

The Punk Rock Flea Market is a time-honored tradition for punks and squares alike. The nomadic art market started in 2006 and, for the past 17 years, has been a place where Seattle’s DIY artist community can meet, hang out, and support each other’s projects. In December, the Punk Rock Flea Market will once again provide the masses with sick punk wares during the chaotic and stressful end-of-the-year holidays. 

Taking place inside the old Bartell Drugs on 3rd Avenue and Union, in a space now known as Nii Modo, dozens of fringe and freaky vendors will converge for three days with a wide variety of objects for your perusal—taxidermy for the death-obsessed, graffiti supplies for the renegade artists, crystals for the mystical, bondage for the masochists and sadists in your life—plus music, food, and drinks. 

This all-ages event only costs one buck to enter (inflation, who?), and organizers encourage people to “bring the kids, bring grandma, bring the whole damn crew.” A portion of the proceeds go to the Low Income Housing Institute, so not only are you a crucial part of maintaining underground culture here in Seattle, but you’re also supporting the unhoused community in the city. See you in the pit!


South Lake Union Winter Market @ Van Vorst Plaza

Primo craft content ✂️

📸: “Sushi Collection Hairclaws” from HomeyViis, vending @ South Lake Union Winter Market on Thursday, Dec 7th

Three cute hair clips designed to look like sushi rest on gold framed mirror.

📅 Thursday, December 7th – Friday, December 8th
⏰ 10 am – 5 pm
📍 Van Vorst Plaza: 426 Terry Ave N, Seattle
🔁 New vendors each day
🎟  Free to attend

As the holiday season approaches, Seattle has plenty of opportunities to buy cool, handcrafted wares from local vendors. From December 7th to 8th, Seattle’s most prominent indie craft show, Urban Craft Uprising (UCU), takes over the Van Vorst Courtyard for a special South Lake Union Winter Market. 

Spread across two blocks, this free event features over two dozen vendors who rotate out each day for maximum craft potential. This year’s batches feature some primo craft content. You can get a print from Therapy Chickens Art, a tarot deck for your cool sister from Dark Days Tarot, and some locally made Hot Jawn Chili Sauce for your uncle who likes to keep it spicy. 

“It’s all unique and different and has more of a story than things one might purchase at a big box store,” UCU president Kristen Rask told Seattle Now about their makers’ markets earlier this week. One thing to note—the SLU Winter Market will be outside, so wear a warm coat and gloves, and don’t forget to bring a tote bag for all your treasures!


Willy Wonka: The Musical @ Magnuson Park Theatre

Bubblegums and Gobstoppers 🍬

📸: Broadway Bound Children’s Theatre

A poster for the Willa Wonka production at Broadway Bound Children's Theatre

📅 December 1st – 17th + January 5th – 13th 
📍 Broadway Bound Children’s Theatre @ Magnuson Park Theatre: 7110 62nd Ave NE, Seattle
🎟 Prices from $15 – $20

You’d be hard-pressed to find a theatre lover that doesn’t have some sort of childhood performance experience. Even if it’s just playing first lobster in the nativity play (“There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?”), you catch that theatre bug early and it’s in you forever. Some of my fondest memories are from Contra Costa Civic Theatre summer camp, acting in haphazard mashups of pop culture properties meant to placate kids and parents alike. (If you want to track my age, one pair of plays was Hook’s World and Beauty & T2.) 

So IMHO, Broadway Bound Children’s Theatre is doing the lord’s work of creating generations of future showtunes belters, MFA candidates, and extremely opinionated audience members. The company stages several full-scale, high-quality musicals every year (recent ones include MatildaElf, and mainstay Annie), all starring children ages 5-18.  

Their holiday offering is Willy Wonka: The Musical, where small ones will act their butts off in Roald Dahl’s colorfully rendered but pointedly sinister treatise against greed, gluttony, and naughty little thieves. And if you like what you see, consider coming back another day and see a whole new cast; the December outing includes four different companies (grouped into Bubblegum, Gobstopper, Jellybean, and Lollipop), while the January staging has the Marshmallow and Taffy casts. 

I’m also just excited to see very small humans sing “Oompa Loompa” a bunch of times. 


The Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition @ Pike Place Market

A not-so-silent night 🌙

Seattle, USA - December 12, 2018: Pike Place Market illuminated with Christmas lights early in the night just after it rained.

📅 Friday, December 1st
⏰ 6:15 – 8:30 pm
📍 Pike Place Market: 85 Pike St, Seattle

You could do the usual white elephant exchange with friends this holiday season. Or instead, step on stage with a capella groups like The Barden Bellas, groups of co-workers from area businesses, and children’s choirs to carol for a causeThe Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition is looking for teams, small and large, to perform the ancient yuletide carol this December. 

The 38th anniversary of the event will take place at Pike Place Market. This competition will be the second year the local holiday tradition is held in the market after a move from Westlake Center. If singing is not your thing, join the large crowd of spectators who come to watch, vote, and donate (because the celebration is primarily a fundraiser for the Pike Market Senior Center & Food Bank). Talk about spreading holiday cheer

The teams will perform along Pike Place around 6:15 pm, filling every street corner with joy. Then, an hour later, the stage show begins with competitions for Best ChoralMost Creative, and even the People’s Choice. Finally, the night ends with a group singalong.​ Funnily enough, no figgy pudding is available on site—which, BTW, is a close cousin to the fruitcake. Typically, Pike Place’s shops close around 5 pm (though many don’t), so show up early to eat and drink at nearby establishments. Or pack snacks and a thermos of hot chocolate or egg nog. Bonus: The Market is always a great spot for a photo op. But for the holidays, there’s a large holiday tree, a whimsical wonderland scene, and numerous holiday decorations around to capture memories. 

6:30 pm – Caroling teams perform along Pike Place
7:30 pm – The stage show begins at the main stage at Pike Place and Stewart + Figlanthropy awards
7:55 pm  – Best Choral competition
8:05 pm – Most Creative competition
8:10 pm – Peoples Choice competition
8:20 pm – Group singalong
8:30 pm – Good night everyone, and happy holidays!


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