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Cruise Into the Season: 65 Ways to See the Christmas Ship Festival

The Christmas Ship Festival is one Northwest holiday tradition that never seems to gets old. Starting the day after Thanksgiving and running through December 23, the Christmas Ship parade route covers over 65 different waterfront communities around Lake Washington and Puget Sound. To help you map out where to see this year’s ships, we’ve listed 65 viewing spots on shore, ’round a roaring bonfire or on board with St. Nick. Read on!

 photo: Argosy Cruises 

Ride the Christmas Ship Lead Boat

Every year Argosy Cruises pulls out all the stops with the spectacularly decorated Spirit of Seattle, the designated Christmas Ship that all the other boats follow. On board, a local choir sings 20-minute programs at scheduled shore side locations (see schedule below) and Santa mingles with the kids on board. Other on-board activities include sing-alongs, contests and prizes, plus a children’s holiday craft area and reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas with Santa. The boat has two fully enclosed, heated decks, one outside deck, restrooms and a cash bar. While cruisin’ the waters, you and your little elves can enjoy box meals (available for pre-purchase) and beverages including beer, wine and specialty cocktails. Reserve online or call 206-623-1445 or 888-623-1445.

Cost: $42-$50/Adults; $39-$47/Seniors; $29-$37/Youth (4–12), 3 & under Free. $68/person on Parade of Boats Night and Dec. 23 Grande Finale sailing; 3 & under Free.

Book a Sitter & Ride a Christmas Ship Follow Boat

Parade Ships (aka Follow Boats) follow the Christmas Ship, but don’t have an on-board choir. Fully enclosed with outside areas, restrooms and a cash bar, parade ships are designed for the over 21 crowd and include sing-alongs, holiday activities and pre-purchased boxed meals for sale. All parade ships position themselves alongside the Christmas Ship, so all can enjoy the choral performances. And like the Christmas Ship, there will be a cruise director guiding you through the evening and Santa will be greeting guests as they arrive on the dock (although Argosy cannot guarantee Santa will be present on the Follow Boat during the actual cruise). Reserve online or call 206-623-1445 or 888-623-1445.

Cost: $50-$68/Adults; $47/Seniors. $68/Adults & Seniors on Parade of Boats Night and Grand Finale sailing.

 photo: Argosy Cruises

Cozy Up at a Local Restaurant

There are too many options here to list, but here’s the idea: check the sailing schedule below and pick a primo viewing location with nearby waterfront restaurants, like Lake Union, Alki, Gig Harbor, Redondo Beach or Leschi. Places like Duke’sAnthony’sSalty’s and Ivar’s Salmon House are all great options with outdoor viewing decks, so you and the fam can feast your eyes on a panorama of glowing boats while also enjoying a fine meal.

On Shore: Lake Washington, Lake Union, Elliot Bay & Puget Sound Parks

Whether it’s your neighborhood beach park or a stunning downtown location like the Sculpture Park, when the Christmas Ships sail past it’s a truly spectacular sight. Many locations will have a bonfire going, which are noted below. Bundle up the kiddos, grab some friends and some thermos of hot cocoa and go! Times listed below detail when the parade will stop and broadcast choir performances over their state-of-the-art sound system. A full schedule, including sailing departure times and private events, can be found here.

Friday, November 29:  Pier 55 (Opening Night)
Choir: Kirkland Choral Society
7:25 p.m. Lowman Beach Park (bonfire/special lighting)
8:10 p.m. Alki Beach (bonfire/special lighting)

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Saturday, November 30: Pier 55 (First Sailing)
Choir: Seattle Girls Choir
12:35 p.m. Seattle Waterfront (rolling show)
1:55 p.m. Myrtle Edwards Park

Saturday, November 30: Pier 55 (Second Sailing)
Choir: The Dickens Carolers
7:30 p.m. Waterfront Park-Bainbridge Island (bonfire/special lighting)
8:40 p.m. Salty’s on Alki Beach

Sunday, December 1:  Pier 55 (First Sailing)
Choir: The Dickens Carolers
2:10 p.m. West Point Lighthouse
6:10 p.m. Blue Ridge Beach Park (private/special lighting)

Sunday, December 1: Pier 55 (Second Sailing)
Choir: Emerald City Voices
7:30 p.m. Carkeek Park (bonfire/special lighting)
8:10 p.m. Golden Gardens Park (bonfire/special lighting)

Tuesday, December 3: Port of Poulsbo 
Choir: North Kitsap Northern Lights
6:30 p.m. Liberty Bay Waterfront Park
7:50 p.m. House of Awakened Culture
8:55 p.m. Lemolo (rolling show)

photo: Argosy Cruises

Wednesday, December 4: Lake Union Park 
Choir: The Dickens Carolers
7:35 p.m. Houghton Beach Park (bonfire/special lighting)
8:20 p.m. Parkshore (private/special lighting)

Thursday, December 5: Lake Union Park
Choir: St. Therese Shades of Praise Gospel
7:35 p.m. Medina Beach Park (bonfire/special lighting)
8:30 p.m. ASUW Shell House  (bonfire/special lighting)

Friday, December 6: Kirkland City Dock
Choir: Master Chorus Eastside
7:45 p.m. Newport Yacht Club (private/special lighting)
8:15 p.m. Covenant Shores (private/special lighting)

Saturday, December 7: Pier 55 (First Sailing)
Choir: Emerald City Voices
2:00 p.m. Duwamish Waterway Park (bonfire/special lighting)
3:05 p.m. Don Armeni Park

Saturday, December 7: Pier 55 (Second Sailing)
Choir: Federal Way Harmony Kings
8:05 p.m. Pomeroy Park
9:25 p.m. Elliott Bay Marina (bonfire/special lighting)

photo: Argosy Cruises

Sunday, December 8: Tacoma Dock Street Marina
Choir: Olympia Youth Chorus Cantabile
6:50 p.m. Skansie Brothers Park (bonfire/special lighting)
7:55 p.m. Jack Hyde Park

Monday, December 9: Tacoma Dock Street Marina 
Choir: Puyallup High School Norselanders
7:05 p.m. Browns Point Lighthouse Park (bonfire/special lighting)
7:40 p.m. Dash Point Dock (bonfire/special lighting location)

Wednesday, December 11: Port of Edmonds
Choir: Center for Spiritual Living Choir
7:20 p.m. Port of Edmonds bonfire/special lighting
8:20 p.m. Richmond Beach Saltwater Park (bonfire/special lighting)

Thursday, December 12: City of Des Moines Marina
Choir: The Dickens Carolers
7:20 p.m. Des Moines Beach Park
8:10 p.m. Redondo Beach (bonfire/special lighting)

Friday, December 13: Lake Union Park (Parade of Boats Night)
Choir: The Dickens Carolers
7:20 p.m. Lake Union – Middle of the Lake
8:10 p.m. Fremont Cut rolling show (bonfire/special lighting)

Saturday, December 14: Hyatt Regency Lake Washington (First Sailing)
Choir: Rainier Youth Choirs
2:10 p.m. Hyatt Regency Lake Washington (bonfire/special lighting)
3:05 p.m. Seward Park (bonfire/special lighting)

Saturday, December 14: Hyatt Regency Lake Washington (Second Sailing)
Choir: The Dickens Carolers
7:45 p.m. Mount Baker Beach (bonfire/special lighting)
8:15 p.m. Stan Sayres Memorial Park (bonfire/special lighting)
8:50 p.m. Ferdinand Street Park (bonfire/special lighting)

christmas ship

 photo: Argosy Cruises

Sunday, December 15: Hyatt Regency Lake Washington (First Sailing)
Choir: The Dickens Carolers
2:30 p.m. Pritchard Island Beach (bonfire/special lighting)
3:10 p.m. Mercer Island Beach Club (private/special lighting)

Sunday, December 15: Hyatt Regency Lake Washington (Second Sailing)
Choir: Bellevue Youth Choirs
7:40 p.m. Mercerwood Shore Club (private/special lighting)
8:15 p.m. Newcastle Beach Park (bonfire/special lighting)

Monday, December 16: Lake Union Park
Choir: The Dickens Carolers
7:35 p.m. Yarrow Point Beach Park (bonfire/special lighting)
8:30 p.m. Seattle Yacht Club (private/special lighting)

Tuesday, December 17: Lake Union Park 
Choir: Northwest Girlchoir
7:35 p.m. Madrona Park (bonfire/special lighting
8:10 p.m. Madison Park Beach (bonfire/special lighting)

Wednesday, December 18: Lake Union Park
Choir: Song of Seattle
7:25 p.m. Seattle Tennis Club (private/special lighting)
8:20 p.m. Ivar’s Salmon House (private/special lighting)

Thursday, December 19: Lake Union Park
Choir: St. Therese Shades of Praise Gospel
7:35 p.m. Carillon Point(bonfire/special lighting)
8:15 p.m. Laurelhurst Beach Club (private/special lighting)

Friday, December 20: Kirkland City Dock (First Sailing)
Choir: Kirkland Choral Society
7:15 p.m. Sheridan Beach Community Club (private/special lighting)
7:50 p.m. Matthews Beach Park (bonfire/special lighting)

Saturday, December 21: Kirkland City Dock (First Sailing)
Choir: The Dickens Carolers
2:45 p.m. Lake Forest Park Civic Club  (private/special lighting)
3:30 p.m. OO Denny Park (bonfire/special lighting)

Saturday, December 21: Kirkland City Dock (Second Sailing)
Choir: Pacific Sound Chorus
6:35 p.m. Kirkland Marina Park (bonfire/special lighting)
7:40 p.m. Meydenbauer Bay (bonfire/special lighting)
8:15 p.m. Western Academy of Beaux Arts (private/special lighting)

photo: Argosy Cruises

Sunday, December 22: Kirkland City Dock (First Sailing)
Choir: The Dickens Carolers
2:30 p.m. Log Boom Park
3:35 p.m. Waverly Beach Park (bonfire/special lighting)

Sunday, December 22: Kirkland City Dock 
Choir: Choir of the Sound
6:45 p.m. Juanita Beach Park (bonfire/special lighting)
8:05 p.m. Luther Burbank Park

Monday, December 23: Lake Union Park 
Choir: The Dickens Carolers
3:05 p.m. Magnuson Park (bonfire/special lighting)
3:40 p.m. Windermere Park (private/special lighting)

Monday, December 23: Lake Union Park (Grand Finale Night)
Choir: Choir of the Sound
7:45 p.m. Portage Bay
8:45 p.m. Gas Works Park (bonfire/special lighting)

Good to Know
Argosy Cruises donates a portion of all ticket sales to The Seattle Times Fund for the Needy, an annual program that raises money for several charitable organizations in the Puget Sound area.

Online: argosycruises.com/argosy-cruises/christmas-ship-festival

—Kristina Moy & Allison Ellis

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