Welcome to your Seattle winter bucket list!
The Seattle winter can get you down. Days or even weeks can pass without a sunny day. Longtime Seattleites know that it’s important to stay busy in the winter, whether by getting outside for some winter recreation or by doing cozy indoor activities. We rounded up the best events and activities that you can enjoy in Seattle in the winter months.
Here are the top things to do in Seattle in the winter:
1. Astra Lumina: A Night Walk Amongst The Stars
Astra Lumina opens in Seattle on December 8! This magical winter activity lets you explore the Seattle Chinese Garden at night while it’s transformed into a celestial world of light and music. Get tickets here!
2. Candlelight Concerts
One of our favorite winter activities in Seattle is the Candlelight Concert series. Stunning Seattle venues are illuminated with candlelight while talented string musicians pay tribute to musical icons such as Hans Zimmer and Taylor Swift. See the current and upcoming Candlelight Concerts in Seattle.
3. Harry Potter™: Magic at Play
There’s nothing like exploring Hogwarts in the winter, and now you can do that right here in Seattle thanks to the immersive Harry Potter™: Magic at Play experience. Save your spot here!
4. WildLanterns at the zoo
Light up your winter evening by visiting the Woodland Park Zoo after dark to see the annual WildLanterns display. Read more about WildLanterns.
5. Visit Leavenworth for Christmastown
The nearby Bavarian-styled town of Leavenworth, WA is one of our favorite destinations near Seattle, especially in the winter! From Thanksgiving through February, you can visit Leavenworth to get your fill of holiday lights, snow, and festive events. See our guide to visiting Leavenworth.
6. See the epic Christmas tree display at the Fairmont
Every November the Fairmont Olympic Hotel displays around 20 elaborately decorated Christmas trees for the Seattle Festival of Trees. It’s free to go view the trees between November 18 and 28. Donations and tree purchases go towards Seattle Children’s Hospital and Autism Center.
7. Visit Seattle’s Gingerbread Village
The Sheraton Grand Seattle displays an epic Gingerbread Village from November 21 through January 1. It’s free to go view the display; donations go towards the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
8. See The Nutcracker at the Pacific Northwest Ballet
Every winter the Pacific Northwest Ballet performs George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. This is a classic holiday tradition to enjoy with loved ones.
9. Seattle Christmas Market
A new winter tradition for Seattleites is the Seattle Christmas Market! This European-style market opens on November 24 at Seattle Center and continues through Christmas Eve. Read all about the Seattle Christmas Market.
10. Seattle Center Winterfest
Every year, Seattle Center kicks off five weeks of free events and activities on the day after Thanksgiving at Winterfest. Get all the info about Seattle Center Winterfest here.
11. Holiday events at Pike Place Market
Starting with Magic in the Market on November 25, Pike Place Market offers several fun events during the winter—most of which are free. There’s also the annual Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition on December 1 and a week of free activities during Crafty’s Handmade Holidays from December 18 to 22.
12. See the Seattle tree lighting ceremony
Every year, Seattleites head to Westlake Park in downtown Seattle the day after Thanksgiving to see the giant Christmas tree get lit up. The free event includes live music and a fireworks show. Read about the Seattle tree lighting.
13. Run in the Seattle Marathon
The Seattle Marathon is an annual winter tradition that takes place the weekend of Thanksgiving. Whether you’re a runner, a walker, or a cheerleader in the crowd, it’s always a fun event to be a part of.
14. Green Lake Pathway of Lights
Every winter the pathway around Green Lake gets illuminated with lights for one evening, and you can enjoy music and refreshments during your stroll. This year the Pathway of Lights takes place on December 9.
15. Shop at weekend markets
Even as the weather grows wet and chilly, Seattle’s weekend markets continue to be full of people shopping for food, vintage finds, and handmade items. Our guide to Seattle weekend markets gets updated weekly.
16. Cheer on the Seahawks
It’s football season! The Seattle Seahawks can often be found playing an exciting home game at Lumen Field in the winter months. If the ticket prices are too high for you, catch the game at these Seattle sports bars.
17. Go to a Kraken game
If hockey is more your speed, the Seattle Kraken play home games at Climate Pledge Arena all winter. Get tickets and the schedule on the Kraken website.
18. A winter solstice walk through the arboretum
Most people save their trips for the Washington Park Arboretum for the fall or the warmer spring and summer months, but it’s beautiful in the winter as well. Every December there is the annual Arboretum Winter Solstice Walk, which is an illuminated evening walk with festive music and drinks.
19. Go ice skating
Every winter, ice skating rinks pop up all around the Seattle area—some of which are free! Check out our guide to ice skating rinks in Seattle.
20. Seattle Christmas Ship Festival
The Seattle Christmas Ship Festival is a beloved winter tradition that lights up Seattle’s waters every November and December. The festival includes lit-up boats, shore events with bonfires and music, and more. See the 2023 schedule here.
21. Holiday bars
We have a guide to the best bars in Seattle that are worth visiting year-round, but if you’re looking for festive bars in the winter see this list of Seattle holiday pop-up bars!
22. Holiday light displays
Brighten up your winter nights with these holiday light displays in Seattle.
23. New Year’s Eve parties
Every winter we update our guide of things to do for New Year’s Eve in Seattle.
24. Seattle polar bear plunge
If you’re feeling brave, an ultimate Seattle winter activity to check off your bucket list is the annual Seattle polar bear plunge. Every January 1, around 2,000 Seattleites gather to take the plunge into Lake Washington.
25. Lunar New Year celebrations
You can ring in the Lunar New Year in Seattle every winter with the help of our guide to Seattle Lunar New Year celebrations.
26. Warm up inside the Seattle Spheres
The Seattle Spheres are a must-visit in the winter because you can warm up while exploring the tropical botanical interiors. Many people don’t know that the Spheres are free to the public to visit; you just have to make a reservation. Read about how to visit the Seattle Spheres.
27. Visit a Seattle museum for free
Every month, you can visit select Seattle museums for free (typically on Free First Thursday). This is a great budget-friendly activity to do in the winter months when you want to escape the wet weather. See our guide to free museum days in Seattle.
28. Snowshoe through Mount Rainier National Park
If you’d like to explore Seattle’s surrounding natural beauty, you can head to Mount Rainier National Park in the winter for some outdoor recreation. Snowshoeing is a popular winter activity at Longmire, one of the few areas of the national park that is open in the winter. Get more information on nps.gov.