The Seattle holiday season kicks off every year right after Thanksgiving. My family always heads Downtown Seattle to soak up all the holiday festivities. You can read more about the Holiday Magic in Downtown Seattle in my post from last year. But this year, things have changed up a bit! See my top 5 Seattle holiday experiences to share with your family and add to your Christmas activities.

FAIRMONT OLYMPIC HOTEL

My 13-month-old was dazzled by the lights in Fairmont Olympic's Teddy Bear Suite. Photo credit: Darren Cheung
My 13-month-old was dazzled by the lights in Fairmont Olympic’s Teddy Bear Suite. Photo credit: Darren Cheung

I have to mention the festivities at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel first because it’s one of the most gorgeous hotels in which I’ve stayed. When it’s decked out for Christmas, it’s unparalleled. We always visit the Teddy Bear Suite to snap some holiday photos. Each year, the room design is completely different. The only consistency is that there are tons of teddy bears! The Teddy Bear Suite has staff members who only let a couple families in at a time so there is room to enjoy. Strollers aren’t allowed inside the suite, but there’s plenty of stroller parking in the hall. And there Fitness Center is just down the hall if you need to change your baby’s diaper.

There’s also the Festival of Trees located at the Fairmont Olympic. This is the 40th anniversary of this Seattle holiday event. Each tree has a special theme and they are simply stunning. Most of the trees are located in the main lobby, but some are in the lower lobby. They make fun backdrops for holiday selfies! For new moms, I highly recommend finding a spot in the lobby to feed your baby. It’s a great way for the family to warm up while soaking in all the holiday cheer!

The life-sized gingerbread house is the latest addition to the Christmas activities at the Fairmont Olympic! Photo credit: Darren Cheung
The life-sized gingerbread house is the latest addition to the Christmas activities at the Fairmont Olympic! Photo credit: Darren Cheung. Polar bear sweater courtesy of Jojo Maman Bebe.

New this year is the life-size gingerbread house. It’s right inside the main doors in the lower lobby, where the Santa display usually lives. The house itself is more like a short tunnel, but kids go NUTS for it. My preschooler probably walked through it 25 times in the 5 minutes we were there. Watch this video to get a better sense of the holiday offerings at the Fairmont Olympic in Seattle. These Christmas activities make the Fairmont Olympic a must-stop spot!

PIKE PLACE MARKET

If you normally only head to Pike Place Market in the summer (like me,) grab your coat and head over there this Seattle holiday season. Not only is it a spot to pick up some hand-crafted gifts while supporting local artisans, but they decorate the Market! We like to spot the the little touches. My preschooler cracked up when he saw the pigs on the roof dressed up like reindeer!

Up the street is a great spot to take Seattle holiday photos with the iconic Pike Place Market sign in the background. My family likes to stop in at Storyville Coffee to grab hot drinks and tasty treats before exploring. They offer free airplane cookies for kids!

Insider tip: They just opened 300 parking spots in the new MarketFront Garage!

GINGERBREAD VILLAGE

The Sheraton Seattle's annual Gingerbread Village is across the street this year at City Centre and is a Seattle holiday tradition. Photo credit: Darren Cheung
The Sheraton Seattle’s annual Gingerbread Village is across the street this year at City Centre. Photo credit: Darren Cheung

If you have enjoyed the Gingerbread Village at the Sheraton Seattle in the past, it’s not there this year. The good news is that it’s just across the street at City Centre. The even better news is that the displays are spread throughout the lobby and you don’t have to wait in a long line to see the displays. We had the kids in a double stroller and took advantage of the ramps. There were small crowds around each display, but we only had to wait a few moments to get right up to the front to take a look.

This was my favorite display at the Sheraton Seattle's Gingerbread Village. Photo credit: Darren Cheung
This was my favorite display at the Sheraton Seattle’s Gingerbread Village. Look at all the candy! Photo credit: Darren Cheung

This year’s theme is 25 Years of Cheer: A Celebration of Seattle. We’ve only gone the past few years but this is by far my favorite theme! Not only did the displays highlight the amazing aspects of Seattle that makes it such a unique city, but there were also displays that gave a glimpse to what Seattle’s future might entail. There was so much creativity and ingenuity. It’s definitely worth a stroll while exploring Downtown Seattle’s Christmas activities.

MACY’S DOWNTOWN SEATTLE

This is the 71st annual Seattle holiday train display at Macy's in Downtown Seattle. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung
This is the 71st annual holiday train display at Macy’s in Downtown Seattle. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

A trip to Downtown Seattle this holiday season would not be complete without a stop at Macy’s. The first thing I recommend is to stroll around to see the holiday window displays. Our favorite display was the corner window that featured several working trains, a gondola, hot air balloons and an incredibly detailed town.

We were one of the first in line for Santaland at Macy's Downtown Seattle right after Santa opened it on Black Friday. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung
We were one of the first in line for Santaland at Macy’s Downtown Seattle right after Santa opened it on Black Friday. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Then, head on inside Macy’s Santaland for your photo with Santa. They have the same Santa year after year, so it’s a great place to go if you like to have a consistent Santa for all your photos. Note: we got in line right after it opened on November 24 and waited about an hour. We went back on November 24 and the line only had 3 people.

And while you’re there, make a stop at their holiday decor section. Kids love to look at the ornaments, marvel at the decorated Christmas trees, and walk around this indoor winter wonderland! We found great deals on non-breakable ornaments for our tree (a must with little kids!) and it was one of our favorite indoor Christmas activities.

HOLIDAY CAROUSEL

Each year, the Holiday Carousel pops up outside Westlake Center. We always go the Saturday after Thanksgiving and we’ve never waited more than 5 minutes in line. There is a $3/rider suggested donation. This donation goes to Treehouse, a non-profit providing youth in foster care with support needed to graduate from high school and pursue their dreams. Volunteers from Treehouse run this Holiday Carousel and there are lots of kids available to tell you more about Treehouse’s life-changing work.

The Holiday Carousel is a Seattle holiday tradition that gives back to our Seattle community. Photo credit: Darren Cheung
The Holiday Carousel is a Christmas tradition that gives back to our Seattle community. Photo credit: Darren Cheung

This year, I went on the carousel with my almost-4-year-old and 13-month-old and they both had a blast! I was pretty impressed that my baby was able to hold onto the pole so I could just hold onto his waist. For parents of little kids, be warned that there aren’t any seat belts. That made my preschooler nervous at first, until he realized that he could hold on safely by himself.

Pro tip: Grab some Fisher Scones after your carousel ride for a holiday treat that won’t break the bank!

DOWNTOWN SEATTLE CHRISTMAS ACTIVITIES

My heart lit up when I saw this Virginia float at Macy's Holiday Parade! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung
My heart lit up when I saw this Virginia float at Macy’s Holiday Parade! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

This past weekend, my family got to experience quite a few Christmas activities in Downtown Seattle. This was the first year we attended the Macy’s Holiday Parade. Thanks to Curator PR, we got VIP seats right at the end of the parade route and got to see Santa open up Santaland. We were able to quickly get in line and get our first Santa photo of the season!

Visiting Santa Trever at Magic in the Market is one of our favorite Seattle Christmas activities! Photo credit: Darren Cheung
Visiting Santa Trever at Magic in the Market is one of our favorite Christmas activities! Photo credit: Darren Cheung. Snowman sweater courtesy of Jojo Maman Bebe.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving is Pike Place Market’s annual Magic in the Market event. This has been a family tradition for us for the past 4 years. It’s really the highlight of our holiday season. Santa Trever is there every year to take free outdoor photos with Pike Place Market as the amazing backdrop. They also have a vintage green truck that we’ve used as our own family holiday photo backdrop each year. But it’s more than just visiting Santa. They offer crafts and activities for kids. The big finale is their tree lighting. If you missed it this year, be sure to mark your calendar for 2018!

Other Seattle Holiday Activities

Northwest Railway Museum’s Santa Train
Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a Seattle Children’s Theatre Holiday Must-See Event
Holiday Magic in Downtown Seattle

Heading to Vancouver, BC? Here are my top holiday experiences!

Holiday Festivities in Vancouver, BC
Bright Nights at Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC
The Polar Express in Squamish, BC is Magical

Seattle holiday events that are family friendly and great for kids

Curator PR provided VIP Macy’s Holiday Parade Tickets and Santaland photo and Jojo Maman Bebe provided us with holiday clothing for review purposes.

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64 Comments

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes! There’s so much to do and see this holiday season! We’re heading up to Vancouver, BC for Boxing Day 🙂

  1. The gingerbread village is just so cute! And the holiday carousel is a cool tradition ( we have the same thing in the town where I live and it’s just super nostalgic now to see them putting it up)!

    • marciecheung Reply

      It’s definitely a fun time to visit! So is summer!

  2. I’ve only been to Seattle once and it wasn’t in the winter. But Pike Place Market does seem like a fun experience during the holidays. I love taking photos by a carousel as well.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Pike Place Market is fun any time of year, but it’s extra special during the holidays!

  3. This post definitely got me in the Christmas spirit! I’m on the east coast, but have friends out that way. I might need to make a trip out there to see some of these in person!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes! Go visit your friends and soak up Seattle’s holiday cheer!

  4. I have never been to seattle and I am not a huge winter person but this definitely has me wanting to take a trip to Seattle! I love the Hotel the most! Room full of teddy bears!

    • marciecheung Reply

      The Fairmont Olympic Hotel is pure magic this time of year!

  5. I’ve never been to Seattle but Christmas time looks amazing! My kids would be in awe! Love your pictures!!

    • marciecheung Reply

      I hope you get the chance to visit any time of year!

    • marciecheung Reply

      We don’t always get snow, but there’s lots of Xmas spirit here!

  6. I have never been to Seattle but I need to go! These are such cute events. Happy Holidays!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Seattle has so much to offer! Please come visit!

  7. Seattle is probably one of my top 10 places I want to visit and this is the perfect itinerary! I’m not gonna lie when I think of Seattle I totally think of rain and this has completely changed my opinion.

    • marciecheung Reply

      It really doesn’t rain as much as people think. It’s mostly just grey weather. But, the holiday lights help brighten it up!

  8. A gingerbread house through which you can walk does seem like a treat! No pun intended. I can see why your little guy enjoyed it. I like the train in the window. For me, a carousel is a winning experience time and again.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Haha! He LOVES gingerbread so he was stoked to actually walk through a life-size gingerbread house!

  9. I regret not doing any of these holiday activities when we lived in Seattle (well, besides Macys)! I love Pikes Place but yea… have never gone out of the summer season! Seattle is such a pretty city, enjoy the holidays!

  10. I grew up in Seattle and can vouch for all of these! My favorite tradition when I head home for the holidays is making the journey to Leavenworth.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Do you have any tips for Leavenworth? We’re planning a day trip there in a couple weeks! It will be our first time!

  11. These sound great! I LOVE the decor in the gingerbread houses and Christmas display at Macy’s and that it is family and kid friendly! 🙂

  12. Hi Marcie,

    Good to find you here 🙂 I always think your son is so adorable 🙂 It’s wonderful to read about your holiday time . Monika x

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yay! Glad I could inspire you to visit my beautiful city!

  13. First off, those pictures are adorable, magical and priceless!! Secondly, holy Hannah that is a lot of gingerbread!! I need to put this on my list of places to visit!

  14. This is amazing! I’m going to share this with my family! We are local to Seattle and didn’t even know about a lot of these! The Teddy Bear room sounds so cute! And I know all the trees would be beautiful! Pikes place is always fun to visit and I have to get some Beechers Mac and cheese 😄 Thanks for sharing!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Now I want Beecher’s Mac & Cheese. Mmmmmmmm

  15. It sounds like Seattle has some really great holiday events! I love Christmas markets and finding gifts made by local artisans so the Pike Place Market sounds perfect for me.

    • marciecheung Reply

      I’m sure you’d find some treasures at Pike Place Market!

  16. Your Blog is BEAUTIFUL! This post makes Seattle seem so festive! I want to go explore this city so bad! Thanks for these awesome ideas!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Oh! Thanks so much for your kind words! I hope you make it to Seattle!

  17. This is so nice and joyous. The festive holiday season really is the best and reading about all the events happening around the world, Seattle in this case, is so comforting. The Gingerbread village sounds really awesome and as for Macy’s I agree that one has to witness their decorations which are always grand.

  18. I feel so festive now after reading your post. All these parades and window displays really put me in the Christmas mood, and I wish we had those parades in Europe! Your photos of the children are adorable too.

  19. You have listed some beautiful holiday events. As holidays are knocking the door, so all places in the world have started preparations in their own way. Seattle has beautiful events like those carousel ride, colorful Ginger bread village at Sheraton and Macy’s Downtown decor. Also teddy bear suite at Olympic Hotel is so cute.

  20. I’m dying to go to Seattle! My brother lives in Vancouver so my hubby and I want to road trip up the west coast and then over the border to go visit them. This is giving me even more reasons to do so next Holiday season :-).

  21. Seattle looks like it could give NYC a run for the money when it comes to Christmas attractions. I’m a big fan of the holiday and love to see how people celebrate it in different parts of the world. I especially like the Gingerbread Village. Is it at all edible?

    • marciecheung Reply

      I believe it IS all edible, not that you’d actually want to test that out 🙂 We’d LOVE to experience the holidays in NYC someday!

    • marciecheung Reply

      We love all the lights, too! I’m hoping we can drive by some festive neighborhoods this year 🙂

    • marciecheung Reply

      I hope you get to Seattle soon! It’s such a fun city!

  22. Love all our Seattle Christmas adventures! We’ll be experiencing most of these on Friday evening, plus the Figgy Pudding Carolers & snow in Pacific Place. Can’t wait!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yay! I hope you have as much fun as we did! I still haven’t experienced the snow in Pacific Place! I did hear that they have several fun photo op signs set up there, though 🙂

  23. Awww. Your 1yr old is just adorable. Just now, here in Belgium, the Christmas celebrations have begun and I can’t wait to see my little one’s reaction on her first Christmas! The holiday carousel and Gingerbread village would be my top 2 in your list!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Thanks! How exciting to experience your child’s first Christmas!

  24. Reading this post, my childhood memories keep flashing back. Thanksgiving/Christmas period are the best time of my life as a kid. Dont have a kid yet but I can imagine the happiness on the faces of my little nieces if I ever surprise them with a visit here. These Seattle holiday experiences are worth every bit of experiencing.

    • marciecheung Reply

      I’m so glad that this post brought back happy holiday memories from your childhood!

  25. Christmas is here and your post proves it this festival is so vibrant, so joyous and fun. These decorations at these hospitality brands have captured the essence so beautifully. I would have loved to indulge in all of these holiday experiences. My favorites happen to be Macy’s Holiday Parade and the display at Sheraton Seattle’s Gingerbread Village.

    • marciecheung Reply

      The Macy’s Holiday Parade was really fun!

  26. Tis the season to be jolly! Ah, nothing quite like being able to spread some holiday cheer during this time of year. Seattle has been on my must-go destination visit list for quite a while now, but I had no idea about their holiday traditions and what locals usually do during this time. Everything sounds great, my favorite is the carousel ride. It doesn’t matter how old one gets, this is a classic that always makes any crowd smile. 🙂 Happy holidays! – Ella

    • marciecheung Reply

      Oh I hope you get to experience the holidays here in Seattle! Or, enjoy the stunning beauty that is Seattle in the summer 🙂

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