On a budget this holiday season?
We feel you. That’s why we put together this guide of all the free events and activities in Seattle that are happening through November and December. Now you can do some fun holiday activities and still have money left over for gifts.
Here are the best free holiday things to do in Seattle this year:
1. The Seattle tree lighting ceremony
Every year, Westlake Park in downtown Seattle gets lit up the day after Thanksgiving with a giant Christmas tree lighting and a fireworks show. There’s also festive live music before and after the tree lighting. Best of all, the event is free! Read about this year’s Seattle tree lighting.
2. Magic in the Market
Another free holiday event that takes place in Seattle the weekend of Thanksgiving is Magic in the Market. You can go to Pike Place Market on November 25 for a festive lighting ceremony, free photos with Santa, and more. Here’s all the info about this year’s Magic in the Market.
3. Seattle Center Winterfest
Seattle Center provides five weeks of free holiday fun during Winterfest every year. This year it starts with a free ice sculpting event on November 24 and then continues through December 31 with live entertainment, a World Bazaar, a winter train and village display, and more. Read more about Seattle Center Winterfest.
4. Seattle Festival of Trees
Between November 18 and 28, you can visit the Fairmont Olympic Hotel to see 20 decorated Christmas trees on display for the Seattle Festival of Trees. It’s free for the public to view the trees, although if you make a tree purchase or a donation the proceeds benefit the Seattle Children’s Hospital and Autism Center.
5. Gingerbread Village
Every year the Sheraton Grand Seattle displays an epic Gingerbread Village for the holiday season. It’s free and open to the public to view starting on November 21 this year. See the daily hours here. Donations go towards the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
6. Hometown Holidays
West Seattle celebrates the holidays with free events starting on November 25 and continuing through December 14. Almost all of the events are free, such as selfies with Santa, the GLOWS (Glorious Lights of West Seattle) Festival, and a holiday art walk. See the full schedule and more details on the West Seattle Junction website.
7. The Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition
On the evening of December 1, you can go to Pike Place Market to watch the annual Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition. You can enjoy festive caroling music for free and also visit a few market businesses that will be open late for food or drink if you want.
8. Bellevue Festival of the Nativity
The annual Bellevue Festival of the Nativity runs from December 3-10. There will be daily musical performances, children’s activities, and Christmas displays at this free event.
9. Free holiday movies
You can watch these free festive movies at noon on Tuesdays in Pioneer Square’s City Hall Park this month:
- December 5: Elf
- December 12: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
- December 19: The Polar Express
There will be free coffee and hot cocoa provided as well!
10. Teddy Bear Suite
Kids will love going to see the annual Teddy Bear Suite at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel. It’s free to go visit but donations support the Seattle Children’s Hospital. It is open December 5 through January 3 and the hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Sundays.
11. SLU Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland in South Lake Union is a series of free holiday events. There will be food trucks and live music on December 6 & 13 at Denny Park, a winter market on December 7 & 8 at the Van Vorst Plaza, and an outdoor screening of the Santa Paws movie on December 16 at Denny Park. There will also be festive art installations and lights displayed in South Lake Union parks all through December. See more about SLU Winter Wonderland here.
12. Holiday in the Park
All ages are welcome at this free event in Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park on December 7. There will be festive lights, live music, free treats, and crafts for kids. See details on the Volunteer Park Trust website.
13. A free ice skating rink
Every December, Seattleites can go to Occidental Park in Pioneer Square to enjoy a free ice skating rink with free skate rentals included! This year the pop-up ice rink is open the weekend of December 8-10. Here’s more info about the Occidental Square ice skating rink. Also, see our full list of ice skating rinks in Seattle here.
14. Green Lake Pathway of Lights
Every year on the second Saturday of December, Green Lake’s pathway gets illuminated after sunset for a festive evening of live music and warm beverages. This year it takes place on December 9.
15. Sweet & Snowy Saturdays at Occidental Square
All ages can get into the festive spirit on December 9 & 16 from noon to 2:00 p.m. at Occidental Square. There will be live music, fake snow falling, and free sweet treats.
16. A free wreath-making workshop
Make a holiday wreath to bring home on December 13 at 2+U (located downtown) from noon to 2:00 p.m. This workshop is free and all the supplies will be provided. Don’t be late; it’s first come, first served. See details here.
17. Guilty Holiday Pleasures Party
On December 14 there will be a free holiday event in Capitol Hill in the Chophouse Row courtyard from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. All ages are welcome to come and enjoy a pop-up gift market, food and drink specials, DJs, drag queen carolers, a Bad Santa photo booth, and more.
18. Pet-friendly holiday photos and cookie crawl
This free event starts at noon at Bell Street Park on December 16. You can get free holiday photos taken with Mrs. Claus and your bestie (furry best friends welcome!) and then join a holiday cookie crawl around Belltown. Details here.
19. Winter Bonsai Solstice
If you don’t like over-the-top holiday events, then this one is for you. The Pacific Bonsai Museum is celebrating the winter solstice on December 16. You can see their bonsai collection lit up with holiday lights while enjoying free hot chocolate from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. This event is free and kid-friendly. If you have some wriggle room in your budget, there is a suggested donation of $12 for adults.
20. Crafty’s Handmade HoliDAYS
Another free holiday activity at Pike Place Market is Crafty’s Handmade HoliDAYS. From December 18 through December 22, all ages are welcome to enjoy ornament painting, live holiday music, and more.
21. Seattle Christmas Ship Festival
You can enjoy holiday carolers and onshore events with bonfires while watching the festive light display of the Seattle Christmas Ship Festival every November and December. See this year’s Christmas Ship Festival here.
22. Seattle holiday markets
If you’re on a budget, you don’t have to spend any money to walk around Seattle’s holiday markets and soak up the festive spirits while window shopping. See our roundup of the best holiday markets in Seattle.
23. Holiday light displays
There are plenty of free holiday displays in the Seattle area starting in November, such as the Luminous Light Sculptures at Westlake Park and yard displays in neighborhoods like Ravenna. See our guide to the best holiday light displays in Seattle. You can also check out these Seattle Christmas trees.
24. Snowflake Lane
This free holiday event is technically in Bellevue, but it’s only a short drive from Seattle. The Snowflake Lane parade runs every night at 7:00 p.m. between November 24 and December 24 at Bellevue Square. See more info about Snowflake Lane.
25. New Year’s Eve at Seattle Center
Wrap up your holiday season with New Year’s Eve at Seattle Center. In addition to the fireworks show at midnight, there will be free live music and a light show at the International Fountain. See more about New Year’s Eve at Seattle Center.