Disclaimer: Due to COVID-19 concerns, many events might be canceled, postponed, or changed into limited versions, sometimes at very short notice. Please check with event organizers directly for the latest updates (view the "External Resources" section below).
Beautiful illumination is what makes the Christmas season in Seattle so special. Sipping hot chocolate around twinkling lights is probably a favorite activity for locals during the season. There are several large light displays in the area, at Bellevue Garden d’Lights, Candy Cane Lane, Clam Lights in Renton, as well as Wildlights at Woodland Park Zoo and Zoolights in Tacoma. The dates differ every year—some of the light displays are lit as soon as late November, while others illuminate the area from mid-December through New Year's.
Candy Cane Lane (December)
Many Seattle neighborhoods do their best to adorn the streets and houses with Christmas decorations. But none of them is as good as Candy Cane Lane in north Seattle. This street, known officially as Park Rd, features lights, moving objects, and music to fill your holiday stroll with joy. Decorations usually follow a theme, but you will probably also see traditional reindeer, sleighs, and candy canes. If you think parking could be an issue, no worries: Candy Cane Lane is a drive-by attraction, with cars moving slowly as viewers snap holiday pictures. In case you want to have a more immersive walking experience, park on a side street or in Ravenna Park just half-a-block away.
WildLanterns at Woodland Park Zoo (November 13, 2020–January 17, 2021)
Woodland Park Zoo puts on holiday lights in mid-November. Lanterns of animals along the cross-zoo route will take you on a worldwide nature adventure. You will start your expedition at the Living Northwest exhibit with familiar animals like grizzly bears and eagles. Then make your way through the Jungle Lights exhibit with snow leopards and gorillas. Afterward, you reach the depths of the SeaMazium exhibit with marine creatures like turtles and seals. The final section—the African Savannah exhibit—will introduce you to giraffes and zebras.
Winterfest at Seattle Center (November 27–December 31, 2020; partially virtual)
Winterfest at Seattle Center is another wonderland of sparkling lights. There are also fun-filled activities and live performances lasting through the whole holiday season. The annual tradition of Campus Luminata brings the Seattle Center alive with dazzling lights in the trees and other installations across the campus. Winterfest Virtual Festál series 2020 edition will feature performances, cooking demos, craft workshops via videos. The seasonal traditions from around the world will be posted every Saturday throughout December. Check the website (see "External Resources" below) for more details on Winterfest at Seattle Center.