Holiday activities abound around the Emerald City during the Christmas season, and the Eastside is no exception. If you and your crew are into lights, snowflakes, Santa and all that jazz–you’re in luck! Scroll down for the Eastside’s 13 most holiday-inducing activities.

photo: The Bellevue Collection

Snowflake Lane

If you really want to delight your kid crew this holiday season, head to Bellevue to celebrate with lights, music and plenty of dancing at the annual holiday spectacular known as Snowflake Lane. With the expansion of the Bellevue Collection, comes an expanded party complete with an extended parade route going from N.E. 4th to N.E. 8th Streets, falling snow and all your favorite holiday characters. And best of all, Santa himself joins the fun every night during the parade to help spread the cheer.

Snowflake Lanes opens on Fri., Nov. 29 with the season’s first parade followed by Santa lighting the 30-foot tree at the Bellevue Place Wintergarden. Santa will also be on hand for photos along with the cast of characters from Snowflake Lane. While this is a single night event, all season long Santa will be available for photos inside Bellevue Square Mall at the Snowflake Lane Factory.

Good to Know: Huge crowds flock to the festivities in Bellevue each night, so arrive early and plan accordingly. Early dinner reservations at one of the numerous restaurants will get you parked and near the action early. And be sure to take advantage of free parking at The Bellevue Collection, Bellevue Square, Lincoln Center and Bellevue Place.

Dates: Nov. 29-Dec. 24, 2019
Time: 7 p.m.
Cost: Free

Between Bellevue Square and Lincoln Square from N.E. 4th to N.E. 8th Streets
Bellevue, WA 98004
Event details

photo: The Shops at The Bravern

The Shops at The Bravern VIP Party & Lighting Ceremony

Once again, The Shops at The Bravern will be getting in on the holiday action by hosting a VIP Party and Lighting Ceremony on Nov. 30. Starting at 5 p.m., families can enjoy photos with Santa, a performance by the Seahawks dancers, holiday wreath making, gingerbread cookie decorating and holiday beverages and hors d'oeuvres. Then, at 6 p.m. watch as Santa makes his arrival and helps light up the The Bravern's custom made, LED holiday light installation. Additional performances by the Seahawks dancers are also on the agenda as well as beverages and treats to get everyone in the holiday spirit. 

Good to Know: This event at The Bravern is free and open to the public. Complimentary six-hour parking validation will be available at any merchants without a spending requirement on the evening of Nov 30.

Date: Nov. 30, 2019
Time: VIP Party from 5 p.m.-6 p.m.; Lighting Ceremony from 6 p.m.-6:30 p.m.
Cost: Free

11111 N.E. 8th St.
Bellevue, WA 98004
Event details

photo: Bellevue Downtown Ice Rink

The Bellevue Downtown Ice Rink presented by Symetra

Bellevue’s popular ice rink is back and in full effect at Downtown Bellevue Park. Boasting our region’s largest open-air ice rink (over 9,000 square feet of real ice!), this prime skating spot is covered and open for skating rain or shine starting on November 29. With skate rentals, concessions, rockin’ holiday tunes and a variety of special events throughout the season, including learn to skate nights, free lessons, Stroller Skate Thursdays, Free Skate Mondays, Husky Skate Day–this is the place to practice your triple toe loop!

Good to Know: Purchase a discount admission pass and receive 10 skating sessions and skate rentals for $119. Also, take advantage of reduced admission when you bring your own skates. Psst! Tuesdays in late December (24 & 31) will be busy due to schools' holiday breaks, so prepare for longer lines. Free three-hour parking is available while visiting Bellevue Downtown Park. The parking lots are located adjacent to the ice rink-one in the southwest corner next to Inspiration Playground and one on the west side of the park (north of the playground).

Dates: Nov. 29, 2019-Jan. 20, 2020
Times: Varies (see times online). The rink is open until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Cost: $10-$15. Receive $2 off if you bring your own skates. Discounted tickets available for members of the military, Bellevue College and Northwest University students and Bellevue Downtown Association and KidsQuest Children's Museum members.

Downtown Bellevue Park
100 100th Ave. N.E.
Bellevue, WA 98004
Event details

Redmond Lights

Redmond Lights celebrates the city of Redmond's diverse holiday traditions, cultures and faiths. On Dec. 7, experience this three-part progressive event by starting at the City Hall Campus tree lighting ceremony; then stroll down the Redmond Central Connector Luminary Walk; grab a sweet treat at Downtown Park; and end the evening at Redmond Town Center. Along the way, enjoy musical entertainment, refreshments and fun activities for the whole family.

On Sun., December 8, the holiday party continues. Starting at 5 p.m., take a peaceful stroll through the Redmond Central Connector and enjoy thousands of luminaries, light displays and art installations. The evening culminates at Redmond’s Downtown Park.

Good to know: A shuttle bus will run from 3:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. on Saturday–near the Lunchbox Lab.

Dates: Dec. 7-8, 2019
Times: Sat., 4 p.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m.-8 p.m.
Cost: Free

City Hall Campus
15670 N.E. 85th St.
Redmond, WA 98052

Redmond Town Center
7525 166th Ave. N.E.
Redmond, WA 98052

Event details

Evergreen City Ballet: The Nutcracker

New sets. New costumes. Newly renovated performance venues. New, new, new! Families will love this dazzling production of a cherished family favorite by Evergreen City Ballet. With three convenient performance venues, you’ll easily find a Nutcracker nearest you. And again this year, you can opt for the super kid-friendly, one-hour performance or go for the full-length, two-hour production–either way, you’re in for a treat!

Good to Know: Bring your cameras! Young Nutcracker fans can get photo ops with dancers in their costumes after each performance.

Dates: Dec. 6-8 at Meydenbauer Center; Dec. 13-15 at Auburn Performing Arts Center; Dec. 20-22, 2019 at Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center
Times: Check website for show times and production lengths
Cost: $35-$45

Meydenbauer Center Theatre
11100 N.E. 6th St.
Bellevue, WA 98004

Auburn Performing Arts Center
702 4th St. N.E.
Auburn, WA 98002

Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center
400 S. 2nd St.
Renton, WA 98057

Event details

photo: Bellevue Botanical Garden

Garden d’Lights

Each year, over half a million twinkly, sparking, wow-worthy lights transform Bellevue’s Botanical Garden into a magical, winter wonderland. The 2019 season will d’light even the youngest of visitors with lighted shapes of plants, animals, flowers, birds–and even a cascading waterfall. And once again, musical groups will perform on select nights (check the website for the complete schedule). Psst! If your little elves need a little pick-me-up, coffee, tea, hot cocoa and snacks will be available for purchase in the Aaron Education Center.

Good to Know: Buy your tickets online (no longer date specific) and avoid standing in long lines at the gate. No free nights will be offered this year. Premium parking in the Garden’s lot is available for $5/car (cash only) or free parking is available at Wilburton Hill Park, located east of the Garden on the south side of Main Street. Event parking is not allowed on Main Street and no dogs are allowed in the garden, so you'll have to leave Fido at home.

Dates: Nov. 30-Dec. 31 2019 (including holidays)
Time: 4:30 p.m.-9 p.m. 
Cost: $5/Adults; 10 & under Free

Bellevue Botanical Garden
12001 Main St.
Bellevue, WA 98005
Event details

photo: Cougar Mountain Zoo

Issaquah Reindeer Festival at Cougar Mountain Zoo

This season, experience the 32nd Annual Issaquah Reindeer Festival at Cougar Mountain Zoo. This up-close and personal zoo not only features the unique sights of Santa’s reindeer, but a chance to sit in Santa's sleigh and take a picture with him in his house. During the month-long festival, kids can indulge in face painting, hear a story from one of Santa's elves and drop their Christmas wish lists in Santa's personal mailbox, plus feed treats to Santa’s other animals and meet his kittens and his Candy Cane makers.

Good to know: Make it a group outing (12 or more people) for a reduced per person admission.

Dates: Dec. 1-23 & 26-30, 2019 (closed Dec. 24-25)
Times: Dec. 1-23, 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (or dusk); Dec. 26-30, 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Cost: $11.50-$14.50 (under 2 Free)

Cougar Mountain Zoo
19525 S.E. 54th St.
Issaquah, WA 98027
Event details

Ivar’s Clam Lights

Dance with the clams at Ivar’s 25th annual Clam Lights display at Gene Coulon Memorial Park in Renton. This dazzling display, designed for the whole fam, covers a mile-long loop around the park. The flat, walkable path is perfect for little feet or strollers and showcases professionally decorated trees and shrubs for maximum holiday wattage.

Dates: Dec. 6, 2019-Jan. 1, 2020
Time: 5 p.m.-9 p.m.
Cost: Free (with free parking at Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park)

Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park
1201 Lake Washington Blvd. N.
Renton, WA 98056
Event details

photo: Redmond Town Center

Redmond Town Center Winter Wonderland

Ring in the holiday season Redmond-style with spirited rides aboard RTC's holiday train or mini horse carousel, or twirl around the outdoor synthetic ice skating rink. Be sure to make a special visit to Santa for holiday photos, take in the sounds of the season with festive community performances throughout December and jump over to the Springfree Trampoline pop-up shop (open Thurs. & Fri. from 4 p.m.-8 p.m. and Sat. & Sun. from noon-6 p.m.) to work off the holiday crazies. Your little scout elves can even search for Stripes, the sneaky Candy Cane, and once found, report his whereabouts to Security/Guest Services to receive a special prize! Stripes moves to a new location every Friday, so look for a new clue each week.

Good to Know: Bundle up in your warmest mittens, scarves and coats as all activities are outside, with the exception of Santa who dwells in a warm hut. This year’s ice rink will once again be covered and can be found on the pedestrian-only Main Street. Tickets are $7/person (debit or credit only). Santa will arrive on Nov. 29, so everyone can read him their wish lists in time for Christmas. Psst! Mondays are pet photo days; Tuesdays (Dec. 3, 10 & 17) are Santa Story Time days at Brick & Mortar Books at 9:45 am; and Wednesdays (Dec. 4, 11 & 18) at 9:45 a.m. are Quiet Days for those who need a quieter atmosphere with Santa. 

Dates: Nov. 29, 2019-Jan 5, 2020
Times: Most activities are open daily; times vary. Check the website for details.
Cost: Prices vary

Redmond Town Center
7525 166th Ave. N.E.
Redmond, WA 98052
Event details

photo: Argosy Cruises

Argosy Cruises Christmas Ship Festival

There’s just something about the Christmas Ship and Parade of Boats that really makes the season sing. Join on-board choirs, twinkling lights and lots of holiday cheer or listen and enjoy from the shoreline at Gene Coulon Beach Park, Medina, Houghton Beach or Juanita Beach throughout the festival. Parade routes, choirs and songs vary nightly, but the watery spectacle is always a festive holiday favorite.

Good to know: Tickets to ride on the official Christmas Ship and Follow Boat fill up quickly (some days are already sold out), so book now if you want an on-the-water holiday experience.

Dates: Nov. 29-Dec. 23, 2019
Times: Varies; view schedule online.
Cost: Free to watch from shore; $29-$68 to ride the Christmas Ship or Parade Boat
Event details

photo: Studio East

‘Twas the Night… at Studio East

A hilarious take on the classic holiday poem, ‘Twas the Night... is sure to leave the whole family in stitches. From the talented Studio East team, this cute, crazy and creative holiday musical is now in its 19th year, but in true Studio East tradition, includes new surprises each year to keep it fresh and fun.

Dates: Nov. 30-Dec. 22, 2019 (Saturdays & Sundays)
Times: 11 a.m., 2 p.m. & 5 p.m. (shows runs 90 minutes, including intermission)
Cost: $20/person (best for ages 5 & up)

Studio East
11730 118th Ave. N.E., Suite 100
Kirkland, WA 98034
Event details

photo: Carol Hook

Celebrate Woodinville Winterfest 2019

Taking place on Dec. 7, Woodinville's Winterfest features a festive tree lighting and early morning race along with Santa photos and a holiday fair. Kick off the festivities on Saturday morning by putting on your kicks and walking, jogging or rolling your way through downtown Woodinville in this year's Winterfest 5k and 10k. Then, take in the holiday fair from 3 p.m.-6 p.m. and enjoy live music, seasonal activities and treats. Psst! Be sure to stick around for the festive Santa procession before the official community tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m.

Date: Dec. 7, 2019
Time: 3 p.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: Free

Downtown Woodinville
13680 N.E. 175th St.
Woodinville, WA 98072
Event details

—Kristina Moy & Jennifer B. Davis


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