Along with turkey dinner leftovers comes tons of holiday hoopla! Whether you’re ready to embrace the holly-jingle-claus season or just chillax with the fam, we’ve got some fun ideas for the long weekend. Consider: an early morning parade, a winter celebration under the Needle, a bright festival inspired by nature, a holiday production with some old faves, a parade with a popular guy in red, and a dazzling light display. This weekend, you can also take a festive journey aboard the Santa Train. In addition to a round trip excursion from North Bend to Snoqualmie, kiddos will get to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, sip on hot cocoa, and nosh on yummy cookies baked in the kitchen car’s coal stoves.

garden d'lights bellevue


Macy’s Holiday Parade
Bundle up the kiddos and grab a curbside seat along Pine Street for this annual day after Thanksgiving parade. See giant inflatable floats, marching bands, drill teams, hundreds of costumed characters and of course, Santa Claus! Fri, 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. (Santaland opens at 11:00 a.m.). Seattle. Free. All ages. Event details.

Seattle Center Winterfest
The Seattle Center is the place to be for lots of free and affordable holiday activities and entertainment. In addition to the always-popular ice rink, drive a miniature locomotive, watch an ice sculpting demonstration, see a variety show, listen to carolers, and much more. Fri.-Sat., 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. (through December 31). Seattle. Most activities free. All ages. Event details.

WildLights at the Zoo
Woodland Park Zoo’s awesome winter lights festival returns this year with thousands of sparkling LED lights inspired by nature, wild animals, and wild places. In addition to the festive displays, see a few animal friends (including Santa’s reindeer) and enjoy festive snacks and entertainment. Fri.-Sun., 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. (through Jan. 4). Seattle. $6.50 to $9.50 (2 and under free). Tickets required. All ages. Event details.


It’s a Wonderful Life
In this latest Bellevue Youth Theatre performance, see the classic Christmas drama come to life on stage by past performers, participants and parents. Audiences of all ages will get to experience the magic of the holiday season and revisit all their fave characters including George Bailey and Mr. Potter. Fri., 7 p.m.; Sat., 2 p.m. & 7 p.m.; Sun., 1 p.m. & 2 p.m. Bellevue. $10 to $12 ($5 tickets for Saturday matinee). Tickets required. All ages. Event details.

Bellevue Place Tree Lighting & Santa Arrival Parade
Grab a curbside seat and watch as Santa makes his way through the streets of downtown Bellevue to the Hyatt Bellevue Hotel. After the parade, gather for the festive tree lighting ceremony and enjoy a special meet and greet with the characters from Snowflake Lane as well as holiday music and displays, cookies, and cocoa. Fri., 7 p.m. (Snowflake Lane open through Dec. 31). Bellevue. Free. All ages. Event details.

Garden d’Lights (pictured)
After the sun goes down, the Bellevue Botanical Garden is transformed into a dazzling winter wonderland of twinkling lights. Grab the stroller and take the Littles on a holiday journey filled with three-dimensional flowers, shrubs, and animal characters. Insider Tip: Avoid the long lines at the gate by purchasing your tickets online. Sat. and Sun., 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. (through Jan. 4). Bellevue. $5 (10 and under free). Tickets required. All ages. Event details.

How will you be kicking off the holiday season this weekend? Let us know in a comment below.

–Kristina Moy

photo thanks to Lisa Albanese