New Year’s fireworks at the Space Needle, Dec. 31; New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunges and state parks First Day Hikes, Jan. 1.
Say goodbye to 2016 and welcome the new year at the Space Needle (or anywhere with a view of it) at midnight on Saturday, Dec. 31. This year’s display of fireworks at the Needle will be the largest and longest in the history of the show. Seattle radio station KEXP 90.3 FM will provide the show’s soundtrack for the fourth year in a row, this year including tributes to the music of Prince and David Bowie.
It’s one of the biggest nights of the year at Seattle Center, so be prepared for big crowds and allow plenty of time to get there early.
Winterfest hosts a free, all-ages dance with live music in the Armory and a DJ dance party with a lights-and-water show at the International Fountain, both from 8 to 11:45 p.m. Saturday. The Winterfest ice-skating rink is open extended hours until 11:30 p.m., with other events adding to crowds at Seattle Center, including the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert at KeyArena and adult New Year’s parties at Pacific Science Center and Chihuly Garden and Glass, by reservation, ticket prices vary.
New Year’s at the Needle/Winterfest
Time: All-ages dance in the Armory, DJ dance party with light show at the International Fountain, 8-11:45 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31; fireworks at the Space Needle at midnight
More info: 206-684-7200 or seattlecenter.com/winterfest
Polar Bear Plunge, Seattle
Time: Noon Sunday, Jan. 1; registration opens 10 a.m.
Location: Matthews Beach Park, Northeast 93rd Street and Sand Point Way Northeast, Seattle
More info: parkways.seattle.gov
Polar Bear Plunge, Renton
Time: 11 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 1
Location: Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park, 1201 Lake Washington Blvd. N., Renton
Polar Bear Plunge, Tacoma
Time: Cub Plunge for ages 10 and younger, 11:30 a.m.; adult/family plunge, noon Sunday, Jan. 1
Location: Point Defiance Park boat launch, 5912 N. Waterfront Drive, Tacoma
More info: metroparkstacoma.org
First Day Hikes
Saltwater State Park: Guided ¼-mile and 1.5- mile walks, 10 a.m. Sunday, meet 9:30 a.m., Saltwater State Park, 25205 Eighth Place S., Des Moines
Nolte State Park: Easy 1.5-mile walk around Deep Lake, 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Nolte State Park, 36921 Veazie Cumberland Road, Enumclaw
Wallace Falls State Park: Moderate 2-mile walk, 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Wallace Falls State Park, 14503 Wallace Lake Road, Gold Bar
More info: adventureawaits.com
Seattle Center festivities will be broadcast on KING5 from 11:35 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., with KEXP’s music broadcast starting shortly before midnight. The Space Needle Observation Deck and restaurants will be closed for private, sold-out events.
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On Sunday, join in the popular New Year’s Day tradition of taking a brave, chilly dip into Lake Washington at the Polar Bear Plunge at Matthews Beach Park. Costumes are welcome, warm refreshments will be served and Seattle Parks and Recreation awards a Commemorative Badge of Courage to all who immerse themselves up to their necks in Lake Washington at the event. For younger participants or anyone who needs a bit more room, the low-key “Polar Cub Club” dip precedes the big main event at noon. Some adventurous folks participate in both. Last year, 1,900 people participated, along with many spectators, so be prepared for limited parking.
Other Polar Bear Plunges Sunday are scheduled for Coulon Beach Park in Renton and Point Defiance Park in Tacoma. All are free.
For another outdoor option to start the New Year, take one of Washington State Parks’ First Day hikes at 32 parks across the state, including Saltwater State Park in Des Moines, Nolte State Park in Enumclaw and Wallace Falls State Park in Gold Bar. New Year’s Day is also a free admission day at all state parks. The Discover Pass is not required for parking.
Happy new year!