Green Lake Pathway of Lights Dec. 9, SAM Lights Dec. 14, Woodland Park Zoo WildLights, though Jan. 1.

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No matter what your holiday traditions, bright lights to enliven the darkest days of the year are a welcome delight this month. One of Seattle’s favorite holiday traditions, Green Lake Pathway of Lights, hosts luminaria and music on Saturday, Dec. 9, one of several popular local events bringing light and cheer to dark winter evenings.

Along with the traditional favorites, hot-air balloons will be a new feature at this year’s Pathway of Lights. Local musicians perform along the 2.8-mile path around the lake at two sites near Green Lake Community Center, The Bathhouse Theater and at Green Lake Small Craft Center. All are welcome to bring their own lights to add to the evening, and nonperishable food donations are requested, with collection bins available near the music areas.

Parking is limited at Green Lake, and the park’s lots will probably be full well before the event, especially since relatively good weather (no rain) is predicted. Carpooling, bus, biking and ride-share or taxi service are all good options if you don’t live within walking distance of the park.

Green Lake Pathway of Lights

Time: 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9

Location: Green Lake Park, 7201 E. Green Lake Drive N., Seattle

More info: 206-684-0780 or

SAM Lights

Time: 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 14

Location: Olympic Sculpture Park, Broad Street and Elliott Avenue, Seattle

More info:

Woodland Park Zoo WildLights

Time: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. daily through Dec. 23 and Dec. 26-Jan. 1

Cost: $9.95/ages 13 and up, $7.95/ages 3-12, through Dec. 14; $9.95-$11.95 Dec. 15-Jan. 1; ages 2 and younger free

Location: Woodland Park Zoo, 5500 Phinney Ave. N., Seattle

More info: 206-548-2500 or

Another popular outdoor space, Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park, hosts the annual SAM Lights on Dec. 14, with luminaria, art activities, music and food vendors. Guest are invited to come in light-inspired attire, and online reservations are requested, though not required, for the free celebration. Garage parking won’t be available for the event, since the space will be used for food trucks and other features.

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Green Lake Pathway of Lights and SAM Lights are both free and open to all.

Woodland Park Zoo WildLights brings a world of bright lights that re-create wild animals and wild places along the zoo’s pathways and North Meadow, evenings through Jan. 1. Admission is discounted through Dec. 14, with tickets available at the gate or online. WildLights also offers carousel rides, indoor Snowmazium activities and snow play, and food and beverages in covered seating areas, some with fire pits. Most of the animals are off display at night, but the indoor Adaptations Building with meerkats, sloths and fruit bats is open during the event, and a few animals will make guest appearances at WildLights on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Santa will be on hand to greet his fans Fridays through Sundays and Dec. 18 through 23.

Parking is free at WildLights at the north and northwest lots, with the southwest, south and lower Woodland lots open as needed. The event is open nightly through Jan. 1, with the exception of Dec. 24 and 25, and guests are encouraged to purchase tickets online to avoid lines.