Holiday Things to Do This Weekend in Seattle: Dec 1-3, 2023

From caroling to lit-up lanterns 💡

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

📸: Vancouver Christmas Market

🎁 Willkommen to the holiday season, Seattle 🎁

A major European-style Christmas market opened up in the Seattle Center last weekend—one of many holiday markets happening around the area this year. Modeled after German Christmas markets, the Seattle Center’s market is open daily, serving glühwein, Christmas ornaments, treats, treasures, and tons of photo opps.

But there are lots of holiday things to do this weekend, especially if you’re bringing kids. Broadway Bound Children’s Theatre’s production of Willy Wonka opens this Friday, with multiple casts of children ready to sing adorable versions of the “Oompa Loompa” song for you and your family. Other family-friendly events: Seattle Rep’s production of Little Women and, as always, Woodland Park Zoo’s WildLanterns. Cheers 🎉

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!


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. 


Giving Marketplace @ Gates Foundation Discovery Center

Holiday shopping for a good cause 🛍️

📸: Courtesy Refugee Artisan Initiative

An overhead shot of hands holding felt embroidered ornaments

🖊 SPONSORED: This top pick is presented by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. At the Discovery Center’s annual Giving Marketplace, you can support a good cause while shopping for everyone on your list.

📅 Friday, December 1st – Saturday, December 2nd
📍Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center: 440 5th Avenue, Seattle
⏰ 10 am – 5 pm
🎟 Free to attend

In 2011, Small Business Saturday became an official day, offering early holiday shoppers an alternative to Black Friday to support small businesses. Keeping in line with shopping with a purpose is the Giving Marketplace at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center—across from Seattle Center—where you can get a head start on your gift-buying while supporting great causes too. The marketplace is free to attend and great for all ages.

So far, here is the list of vendors set to appear:

African Print Takeover
Ajiri Tea Company
BaMatooke Made
Black Coffee Northwest
Friends of the Seattle Public Library
Friends of the WPC Nepal
Hawo Arts
International Rescue Committee, Seattle
Path with Art
Poverty Bay Coffee Company
Radical Grandma Collective
Refugee Artisan Initiative
Sacred Circle Gifts and Art
Seattle Fair Trade
Seeking Ferments
Snow Leopard Trust
Spír Candle Co.
Tizana Mexicana
Tilth Alliance
The Pastry Project
UKUSH Handmade
Ventures Marketplace
Water 1st
Water from Wine
Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience

And whenever you need a breather from all the browsing, both days of the market promise plenty of activities. If you decide to drop in on Friday, you’ll be able to catch live music from Kenyan American singer-songwriter Naomi Wachira from 11 – 12 pm and 1 – 2 pm, along with animal portrait painting by Michelle Lassaline. If you’ve ever wondered what animal you embody, here’s your chance.

Saturday’s events include a performance from Brazilian guitar musician Marco de Carvalho and a wreath-making workshop from Jess Cheng in which she’ll be demonstrating how to turn dried flowers and invasive plant matter into a fully biodegradable mini-wreath. Guided ornament and jewelry-making will be taking place on both days as well, so if nothing catches your eye for some reason, you’ll at least be able to walk away with some handmade gifts.

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!


A Very Die Hard Christmas @ Seattle Public Theatre

Yippee ki yay 💥

📸: Die Hard

Actor Bruce Willis crawls through a crawling space while performing in the movie Die Hard.

📆 Saturday, November 25th – Wednesday, December 20th
📍 Seattle Public Theater: 7312 West Green Lake Dr N, Seattle
🎟 $29+

In the battle for best Christmas movie (going up against It’s a Wonderful LifeHome Alone, and Elf) is an action film starring NYC detective John McClane, played by Bruce Willis. Taking place in the wee hours before Santa’s sleigh arrives, the validity of whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie is a hotly contested topic—but if you fall on the yay side of the debate, put a date inside your advent calendars to see A Very Die Hard Christmas. 

Taking place annually at Seattle Public Theater, this sketch comedy-style musical parody was written by Jeff Schell and the local comedy troupe The Habit, a group that spoofs other film classics like Titanic and Indiana Jones. This production brings back ’80s hair and humor in a big way. And remember, it’s a musical. So: CHRISTMAS! ACTION! COMEDY! MUSIC! If your family’s holiday tradition revolves more around the takeover of an LA tower than carving a turkey, so what? If you think about it, Home Alone follows similar themes—taking down the bad guys and family reunification.

(FYI: This show has become a tradition for many in Seattle, so it often sells out. However, single seats are usually available.)


Little Women @ Seattle Rep

A radical adaptation 📚

📸: Seattle Rep

A promotional image for "Little Women" at Seattle Rep.

📅 Friday, November 10th – Sunday, December 17th
📍 Seattle Rep: 155 Mercer St, Seattle
🎟 Previews start at $20+
🎁  Special winter markets in the lobby on November 25th + December 3rd

Novelist Louisa May Alcott’s little women are taking over the stage this fall. 

Alcott’s classic novel, Little Women, follows the lives of the March sisters during the Civil War era as they deal with marriage, ambition, class, family, and womanhood. Playwright Kate Hamill translated the beloved book for the stage, reimagining Little Women into a “radical adaptation,” Hamill wrote in the playbill. “When bringing a classic to the stage, I think we should always be asking why this story, why now – and re-examining cultural touchstones from new angles.”

In the Seattle Rep production directed by Marti Lyons, Amelio García plays Jo March, a headstrong young writer who refuses to conform to the rigid structures of being a lady and whether she even wants to be a lady. As she and her sisters Amy (Rebecca Cort), Meg (Cy Paolantonio), and Beth (Katie Peabody) deal with growing up as the country is at war with itself, Jo and her friend Laurie (Austin Winter) struggle with societal expectations and where they fit in amongst it all. Hamill’s provocative adaptation is gender and racially diverse and re-focuses the play around Jo and Laurie’s relationship. Still, it remains a definitive exploration of familial resiliency and artistic ambition.


Winter Market @ Seattle Rep

Shopping and shows 💝

📸: Euni + Co

Stationary from Euni + Co featuring a paper-wrapped gift and a gift card that reads "a gift for you."

📆 Saturday, November 25th @ 4:30 – 7:30 pm
📆 Sunday, December 3rd @ 2:30 – 5:30 pm
📍Seattle Rep lobby: 155 Mercer St, Seattle
🎟 Tickets to the matinee or evening performances of Little Womenon these dates are required for entry

Ever wanted to live in the world of Little Women, to traipse around Massachusetts of old and celebrate the holidays in true March Sisters fashion? You won’t be able to achieve that 100%, but you can get awfully close with Seattle Rep’s Winter Market in the theatre company’s lobby on two separate dates.

Tickets to either the matinee or evening performances of Little Women are required for entry, but playwright Kate Hamill’s vibrant adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic is already a perfect holiday outing for you and your family. So before or after you witness Jo March come into her own amidst the backdrop of 19th-century New England, have a grand time with several local vendors who promise to enliven your holiday season. Here are some businesses you can expect at this corner of the Seattle Center.

🎁 Need to brighten up your home with art, paper goods, and home décor? Check out euni + co. (only at the November market), the monarq, and Raquel Garcia’s trademark brand of shadow boxes.

🎁 Did you love the haberdashery you saw onstage? Seattle Rep’s own costumer Brent Roberts runs the Elsewhere Saint Hat Company, and he’ll make sure you cover your head with ultimate panache.

🎁 How about something to imbibe? The women-led and owned The Tea Heaven has you covered on Chai, Darjeeling, and the like, and it’s always a good time for some Theo Chocolates.

🎁 Finally, it’s not Little Women without a love of literature, so all you bookworms big and small should swing by the Secret Garden Books booth.


WildLanterns 2023 @ Woodland Park Zoo

Explore after dark 🌙

📸: Tiera Nhem

A lantern display at WildLanterns of pandas on a waterfall.

🖊 SPONSORED: This top pick is presented by the Woodland Park Zoo. Founded in 1899, Woodland Park Zoo sparks delight, discovery, and unforgettable memories for generations of Northwest families.

📅 November 10, 2023 – January 14, 2024
Tuesdays – Sundays: 4 – 9 p.m.
📍 Woodland Park Zoo: 5500 Phinney Ave N, Seattle
🎟️Free – $36.95

Open now through January 14
Now that Halloween has come and gone, it’s only a matter of time before the holidays begin encroaching in on our consciousness. Ice skating, markets and parades, and of course, holiday music is all slowly creeping back. Also making its annual return to Seattle is WildLanterns presented by BECU on November 10th at Woodland Park Zoo.

This year, there’ll be plenty of new lanterns and themed zones to marvel at. Begin in either the Land of Winter Wonders at the West Entrance or at the South Entrance’s PACCAR Auditorium with Tianyu Cultural Performances right below the Daisy Corridor. Other zones include: the family-friendly Interactive Zone with illusions and games, the Finely Feathered Friends Zone with giant parrots and toucans, the Bugs and Blooms Zone, the Giant Panda Parkway, and finally the Fantastical Folklore Realm with all manner of mythical creatures.

November 5th, December 6th, and January 11th are also Sensory Friendly Nights. During these nights, the Zoomazium transforms into Zoomazium NightLights, with lower lighting, calming, ambient forest sounds, and a shadow puppet area with other interactive stations for kiddos. The zoo offers sensory tools like fidgets, sensory brushes, weighted items, and noise-cancelling headphones at the Zoomazium, West, or South Guest Services through WildLanterns’ run.

Here are some notes on closures and hours from their site:

WildLanterns will be closed Mondays (except for December 11th and 18th and January 1, 2024). WildLanterns will be open New Year’s Day. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas day.

Beginning in January 2024, WildLanterns will change to a Thursday – Sunday weekly opening and will be closed Mondays through Wednesdays.

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