Merry, Merry! 10 Eastside Holiday Attractions for Families

evergreen city ballet, nutcracker, eastside holiday events
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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 most exciting holiday-inducing activities.

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. Plus, all season long Santa will be available for photos inside Bellevue Square Mall at the Snowflake Lane Factory.

Insider tip: Expect crowds 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. 26-Dec. 24, 2021
Time: 7 p.m.

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

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. Remember to book your tickets in advance! With skate rentals, concessions, rockin’ holiday tunes and a variety of special events throughout the season, including free lessons, Ugly Sweater Skating and Football Sunday Skates–this is the place to practice your triple toe loop!

Insider tip: 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. 18, 2021-Jan. 9, 2022
Times: Varies (see times online). 
Cost: $13/person

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. This year the festival lasts all month long and it's free to experience. Explore the various art and light installations at Downtown Park. Remember to download the STQRY app to take a self-guided tour of the installations, then follow the lights down Cleveland Street to 164th Ave. N.E. to reach Redmond Town Center where the festivities continue.

Dates: Dec. 1-Jan. 5, 2022
Times: 5-11 p.m.

Downtown Park
16101 Redmond Way
Redmond, WA 98052
Event details

Evergreen City Ballet: The Nutcracker

Families will love this dazzling production of a cherished family favorite by Evergreen City Ballet. After nearly two years of not performing for a live audience, the dancers and guest performers are eager to bring this wonderful holiday classic to families across the Puget Sound region. 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!

Dates: Dec. 10 & 11 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 11 & 12 at 1:30 p.m.
Cost: $25-$65

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

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 2021 season will d’light even the youngest of visitors with lighted shapes of plants, animals, flowers, birds–and even a cascading waterfall. Remember to purchase your tickets online and well in advance. Tickets are date and time specific, so keep your fingers crossed for a dry night when you visit!

Insider tip: 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. 27-Dec. 31 2021 (including holidays)
Time: 4:30-9 p.m. 

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

Cougar Mountain Zoo

Issaquah Reindeer Festival at Cougar Mountain Zoo

This season, experience something totally new at the 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 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.

Dates: Dec. 1-23 & 26-30, 2021 
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: $16.50/adult; $13.50/kids, ages 2-12; free for kids 2 & under and members

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

Renton City Lights

Enjoy the lovely light displays 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. Although there won’t be a big tree lighting event this year, families should put Dec. 3 on the calendar. It’s when the Rainier Yacht Club's parade of boats will pass by and Argosy Christmas ship will perform too.

Dates: Dec. 3, 2021-Jan. 1, 2022
Time: 5 p.m.-9 p.m.

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

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, Madrona Park, Houghton Beach, Meydenbauer Bay Park or Juanita Beach throughout the festival. Parade routes, choirs and songs vary nightly, but the watery spectacle is always a festive holiday favorite.

Dates: Nov. 26-Dec. 23, 2021
Times: Varies; view schedule online.
Cost: Free to watch from shore

iStock

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Studio East is back and this year's holiday production is sure to be your new family favorite. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is a charming one-hour play that follows the outrageous shenanigans of the Herdman siblings, or “the worst kids in the history of the world.” The siblings take over the annual Christmas pageant in a hilarious yet heartwarming tale involving the Three Wise Men, a ham, scared shepherds and six rowdy kids. This year’s pageant is definitely like no other, but maybe that’s exactly what makes it so special.

Dates: Dec. 4 & 5, 11 & 12, 18 & 19, 2021 
Times: 3, 5 & 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $25/Adult; $20/Students & Seniors

Studio East Mainstage
348 Kirkland Ave.
Kirkland, WA 98034
Event details

Carol Hook

Celebrate Woodinville Winterfest

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 at the Schoolhouse District or enjoy winter activities like wreath making, ornament making and pictures with Santa at DeYoung Park. There will also be a tree lighting at 5:30 p.m. at DeYoung Park.

Date: Dec. 4, 2021
Time: 3-6 p.m.

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

—Allison Sutcliffe, Kristina Moy & Jennifer B. Davis

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