The pandemic has caused countless events to go virtual and two of Seattle’s staple holiday events are no exception. This year, the Westlake tree and Seattle Star lighting, as well as Seattle Center’s Winterfest, can both be viewed virtually.

The Westlake Center tree and Seattle Star lighting will take place at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27. The public is being encouraged to watch the lighting via broadcast on KIRO 7, or online at the Downtown Seattle Association, KIRO 7 or Warm 106.9 Facebook pages.

The Seattle Star (formerly the Macy’s star and, before that, the Bon Marché star) was repaired and installed last year with $250,000 from Amazon, the major tenant of the building at Third Avenue and Pine Street in downtown Seattle. This year, Starwood Capital Group, the building owner, paid another $250,000 for a new version of the star that includes some parts of the old one. It retains the design of the original star, which debuted in the 1950s when the building housed the Bon Marché department store, which became Macy’s in the mid-2000s; Macy’s closed in February.

Jennifer Casillas, vice president of public space operations and events at DSA, said the televised event will be like ones in the past. Anchors will provide a brief intro and count down to the lighting.

After the tree and star lighting, the Downtown Seattle Association is presenting Downtown Holiday Lights and Delights, which includes light displays, an augmented reality scavenger hunt and holiday giveaways, most of it centered around Westlake Park, from Nov. 27-Jan. 9.

Casillas said when families come downtown they can walk around to see the festive decorations and light sculptures, take selfies and participate in the augmented reality adventure from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Participants can use their phone to scan QR codes that will bring up 3D images. The codes will be in five different locations around downtown.


There will also be giveaways every Saturday during the event in Westlake Park, Casillas said. The first 100 participants will receive a free holiday gift.

People can also find more holiday lights in Occidental Square in Pioneer Square. There will be a 17-foot lighted orb tree, wreaths and other photo-op-ready decorations around the area.

Casillas said she is looking forward to the events helping people end the year on a positive note.

Seattle Center Winterfest

Winterfest, which runs from Nov. 27-Dec. 31, won’t have its usual train village and ice skating rink this year, but people can still view lights in-person on the Seattle Center campus. Online, viewers can expect plenty of performances, showcases and more. The festival can be viewed on the Seattle Center website or Facebook page.

Seattle Center arts program specialist Pete Rush said organizations that participate in Seattle Center’s Festal program have created videos that showcase their cultures and holiday/seasonal traditions through performances, cooking and craft demonstrations, and more. Groups from the Italian, Iranian and Polish festivals are just a few providing videos for the event. New content from Festal groups will be uploaded every Saturday during the festival starting Nov. 28.

In addition to videos from Festal groups, Rush said there will also be student showcases from UV Performing Arts, Skyline High School, the Northwest Junior Pipe Band and more. These will be available starting Nov. 27.

Rush said despite the event being online this year, he’s excited to hopefully bring a little bit of joy and fun to people at home.

“While we can’t gather in person, we can still share art together as a community,” he said.