Christmas Ship Festival
Sail around the beautiful, chilly Puget Sound and alight on a shore blazing with bonfires. All ships will have amenities like a full bar and kids' holiday craft bags; book a spot on the lead ship to hear an onboard choir perform.
Argosy Cruises at Pier 55
Dec 7- 24
Dec 7- 31
"Welcome to the garden of earthly delights / Welcome to a billion Arabian Nights," Andy Partridge sings on Oranges and Lemons. He'd probably never been to Bellevue, but it fits: Half a million tiny LEDs adorn the Botanical Garden to create outlandish forms in fairy-tale landscapes.
Bellevue Botanical Garden
Seattle Center WinterFest
If you find yourself on the Seattle Center campus at any point during the rest of the year, prepare yourself and your senses because you are entering a winter wonderland. From an ice rink to ice sculpting, all things ice will be present, whether or not (most likely not) there is snow. The classic Winter Train & Village will be set up in the Armory, where hundreds of performances will also be featured throughout the winter season.
See the zoo in a new light—500,000 energy-efficient LEDs, in fact! See luminous animal-themed designs, have an indoor snowball fight, meet Santa and his very real reindeer and some nocturnal animals, listen to carolers, and enjoy the holiday beer garden.
Woodland Park Zoo
Dec 7-Jan 1
The Sheraton's chefs work every year with architects to confect fanciful houses and structures in the hotel lobby. The theme this year— the 24th year—is "Celebrate the Magic of the Holidays," so the houses are Harry Potter-themed.
Seattle Sheraton Hotel and Towers
Freakout Festival 2016
Rising new Seattle label Freakout Records, in conjunction with KEXP's Audioasis and City Arts, makes the holiday season more exciting with a two-night encroachment into the hot quartet of venues near Madison and 14th Avenue (Chop Suey, Pony, Bar Sue, LoveCityLove). The emphasis is on left-of-center rock that revels in the raunchy, noisy, reverb-y, and deeply spacey, although DoNormaal leans in to rep experimental hiphop. Among the 24 acts, highlights include Stranger Genius Erik Blood, Murder City Devils frontman Spencer Moody, baroque post punks Zen Mother, Day-Glo brat punks Mommy Long Legs, and Cali garage-rock shredders Melted. (Full disclosure: I'm DJing the fest's first night.) DAVE SEGAL
The Sylvan Series "Illum"
FnS—the people who brought you "Lusio" this summer—will offer you a desperately-needed chance to escape to outer space, creating an alien night land-and-soundscape to roam in the Volunteer Park Conservatory. (Hint: It's pronounced "ill-OOM," as in "illuminate.")
Volunteer Park Conservatory
Dope Music Festival
Get ready to wild out at Dope Music Festival 3 with sets and appearances from artists like Gucci Mane, Meek Mill, Jeremih, and more. The festival kicks off with Old School Night on December 16, featuring a lineup from an early '90s hiphop fantasy, including Busta Rhymes and Too $hort.
This festival focuses on everything gaming, VR, tech, and digital. Participate in a maker throw-down, watch drone racing, play enhanced dodgeball, and augment reality. The brand-new event looks to draw 10,000 players and makers.
CenturyLink Field Event Center
A science fiction and fantasy convention that spans writing, science, art, costuming, and gaming. Look forward to nightly movie screenings, multiple dances, a masquerade, concerts, casinos, and special guests like Robin Hobb, Michaela Eaves, and Bill Doran.
Seattle Airport Marriott
Timbrrr! Winter Music Festival
It's counterintuitive to hold a music festival in the dead of winter, but Timbrrr! has turned a seeming con into a pro by attracting music lovers to Leavenworth, Washington's beautiful rustic grounds for high-quality diverse music bookings and extracurriculars like can tobogganing, skiing, and snowboarding. The 2017 lineup consists of Portland pop-punk luminaries the Thermals, Karen Dalton-esque singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus, tuneful electro-goths Crater, adventurous hiphop eccentric DoNormaal, saucy instrumental-soul revivalists Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, topically humorous punks Wimps, slacker-rock champs Sloucher, and more. Timbrrr! looks like a solid bet to lay waste to your seasonal affective disorder. DAVE SEGAL