This is Seattle in mid-winter. It can be a pretty grey place. At this time of year when it’s dark early in the evenings and daylight hours get shorter every day (shorter by 3 minutes per day from now until December 21st actually), it’s not so easy to drum up enthusiasm (or energy) to get out and about with your children. I thought I’d help preempt this feeling by sharing some of my favorite winter family fun activities in Seattle.
Winterfest at Seattle Center
This is a family fun activity which you can check out many times between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. There’s so much on offer you can be sure you’ll do something different on every visit. The Winter Train and Village will captivate very young children for much longer than you think is possible and when their attention wanes, the Children’s Museum on the lower floor of the center is always worth a visit. For older children, a visit to the Ice Rink is a must. We’ve finished many winter days at Winterfest with a play at the Seattle Children’s Theater. This year their performances of Peter Pan will, I’m sure, entertain many children through the holiday season. For older children, there’s the Black Nativity at Intiman or a performance by Seattle Repertory Theater. There will, as always, be endless performances of the Nutcracker by PNB.
A walk on Candy Cane Lane
The Ravenna Park neighborhood owns the market for dazzling holiday decor in Seattle. This small cul-de-sac near the University of Washington takes this responsibility seriously. The houses and public spaces in the neighborhood are festooned with brightly-lit seasonal embellishments, but very tastfully and with a focus on sharing a message of peace and goodwill. Park your car and take a walk to best enjoy the lights. It’s a short walk which your toddler will be talking about months later. I couldn’t find a website with definitive dates for when the show starts, but from prior experience, I think you’d be safe to plan a visit in mid-December.
Argosy Cruises Christmas Ship Festival
For me, the Christmas Ship Festival is a quintessential family activity which everyone should try at least once. The boats are not luxurious and you may not be into holiday carols but on a clear night the music echoes across the lake and whether you’re on the deck (which can be chilly) or enjoying the warmth of the interior of the boat, it’s a truly different way to get into the spirit of the season. You can also enjoy the sights and sounds from the shore since each cruise stops at one or two waterside parks. The schedule specifies which park and the time of the stop.
If you’d prefer to be singing yourself, maybe you should register a team in the Great Figgy Pudding Street Corner Caroling Competition which benefits Pike Market Senior Center and Downtown Food Bank.
For me, it wouldn’t be Christmas without roasted Chestnuts. I picked up this habit when I lived in Dublin before husband and children. There was nary a chestnut to be found in the short time we lived in California, but on our first Christmas in the Pacific Northwest I remember picking up a bag at the public market on Granville Island in Vancouver B.C. and realizing, happily, that I was again living in a place of hot treats on a cold winter’s day. In the Seattle, I’ve been able to reliably find this Dickensian delicacy outside Uwajimaya in the International District. (Not that you’d expect to find them there, so if anyone knows why, do share…)
Jingle Bell Run
If you read this blog regularly, it’ll be no surprise to you that the last thing on my list is a run. But, before you write off the Jingle Bell Run as something which is not quite for your family, let me share my first impression of this event. We’d rushed to get into town on time and barely made the registration deadline. We weren’t quite sure what we were supposed to do with the bells we were given on registering. Standing in line with the other families with strollers, as we tied the bells to our shoes, I was completely unprepared for the sounds of thousands of bells jingling as the actual run started – not to mention the costumes. I will never forget the sight of a Christmas tree running past – six runners in a 3-2-1 formation wearing a large triangular piece of green felt and colorful swim caps which, from above, looked like tree lights. Even if you don’t run it’s an event that’s worth checking out.
Summer Family Fun In Seattle