Share story

Santa’s coming to town, in grand style, for the official kickoff of the holiday season Friday at the Holiday Parade in downtown Seattle and opening day of Bellevue Magic Season.

Happy crowds gather for the annual Macy’s Holiday Parade’s marching bands, sports-team mascots and costumed characters escorting Santa through downtown Seattle at 9 a.m. Friday. Festitivies continue at 5 p.m. with the lighting of the tree at Westlake Center and the Macy’s Holiday Star Lighting Ceremony and fireworks display. Several downtown streets are closed for the events; allow extra time to find parking or plan to arrive by monorail, Sound Transit Central Link light rail or other forms of transportation for easier access to Friday’s downtown events.

Downtown attractions to fill the day include the Holiday Carousel at Westlake Park to benefit Treehouse for foster kids and the Gingerbread Village display of ornate gingerbread houses inspired by classic nursery rhymes at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel. The Fairmont Olympic Hotel hosts the Teddy Bear Suite, a hotel room turned into a stuffed-bear wonderland welcoming visitors through Dec. 24; and Festival of Trees, ornately decorated Christmas trees to benefit Seattle Children’s Hospital, on display through Tuesday.

Winterfest at Seattle Center kicks off the holiday season Friday featuring the traditional Winter Train and Village display at the Armory, with a chance to take a turn controlling the trains from 10:30 a.m. to noon, 1-2:30 p.m. and 3:30-5 p.m. daily for a suggested $2 donation. Winterfest entertainment includes Dickens Carolers, a variety show and the Keith Highlanders Pipe Band Friday, a Menorah Lighting Ceremony at 6 p.m. Sunday and a variety of holiday performances weekends through Dec. 29. Winterfest Ice Rink at Fisher Pavilion also opens for the season Friday, continuing through Jan. 5. Seattle Center is only a few minutes from downtown via monorail, opening early at 7 a.m. Friday to transport holiday crowds.

This week, save 90% on digital access.

Santa continues his busy day Friday, kicking off Bellevue Magic Season at the Bellevue Place Tree Lighting at 7:30 p.m., following opening day of the popular Snowflake Lane display of lights, music, sugarplum fairies, live toy soldiers and magical snow at 7 p.m. in downtown Bellevue daily through Dec. 24. The outdoor ice arena in Bellevue Downtown Park opens Friday for skating on a new, larger rink, and Bellevue Botanical Garden’s Garden d’Lights opens for the season Saturday. Free parking for Snowflake Lane, shopping and other attractions is available at Bellevue Square, Bellevue Place and Lincoln Square. For skating, free parking is offered for as long as three hours in two city of Bellevue lots adjacent to the ice arena.

Holiday events continue through the weekend in Seattle with Saturday’s Magic in the Market holiday kickoff at Pike Place Market and Greet the Season @Lake Union Park. At Pike Place Market, Santa, holiday music and kids’ cookie decorating lead up to countdown to the lighting of the holiday tree at 5 p.m. Saturday. Greet the Season features music, crafts and other activities for all ages at MOHAI, The Center for Wooden Boats, and Historic Ships Wharf, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at Lake Union Park, including the Seattle opening night of the Christmas Ship Festival.

Madeline McKenzie:

Custom-curated news highlights, delivered weekday mornings.