Free & Cheap Christmas & Holiday Activities in Puget Sound

When I asked what kinds of deals I could help you find this holiday season, many of you said “free and cheap things to do with the family!” So I thought I’d oblige by building a list of free & cheap things to do this holiday season in the Puget Sound.

If you see something I’m missing? Leave a comment!

Gingerbread Village (Seattle)
Sheraton, Seattle
November 20 – January 1
More information  

Seattle Winterfest (Seattle Center)
November 23rd – January 6th
“Now in its 24th year, Seattle Winterfest is a wonderful celebration of Holiday Season traditions offering classic Holiday Foods, Family Activities, Free Concerts, holiday – themed Exhibits & beautiful Seasonal Decor throughout a 5-Week period.”
More information

Macy’s Holiday Parade & Star Lighting (Seattle)
November 23rd
Parade commences 9am on corner of 7th & Pine
Star Lighting 5pm at Macy’s
More information 

Westlake Center’s Tree Lighting (Seattle)
November 23rd
4:45 pm with Santa guest appearce
More information 

It’s a Wonderful Life Radio Play (Puyallup)
November 23rd 7pm (additional dates & times available)
$13 – 16
More information  

Snowflake Lane
November 23rd – December 31
“It’s a nightly display along the sidewalks of Bellevue Way and NE 8th Street of dazzling lights, music, dramatic drumming from live toy soldiers and magical snow.”
It looks like this year they are adding performance stages, meet & greet Princesses & more
More information

Magic in the Market (Pike Place Market, Seattle)
November 24th
Festivities begin at 1pm with trees lit at 5pm
More information 

Holiday Craft Bazaar at Uncorked Canvas (Tacoma, WA)
November 24th 10am – 7pm
“Uncorked Canvas has a fabulous mix of artists and artisans to bring you a wonderful selection of hand-crafted and unique décor and gift items for one-stop shoppin
More information

Holiday Lights at Lake Union
November 24th 1-8pm
“Spend the afternoon at Lake Union Park making holiday crafts, building toy boats, decorating cookies, sipping hot cocoa, listening to maritime music, and more. Stay in the evening for a live holiday performance on board the historic Virginia V steamship, followed by a viewing of the Dickens Carolers.”
More information 

Victorian Country Christmas
November 28 – December 1
Tickets start at $10; possible discounts available
Puyallup Fairgrounds
More information 

Christmas Carnival (Seattle)
November 29th, 12 – 8pm
Westin, Grand Ballroom
“Our Christmas Carnival is a free admission community event. Stop by to view the spectacular designer trees and take part in the holiday fun!”
More information

Festival of Trees (Tacoma)
November 30th (with earlier preview dates available)
Tickets are $6; children 12 & under are FREE
More information  

Christmas Tree Lighting (University Place, WA)
December 1, 10am – 6:30pm
“Activities include children’s games and crafts, musical entertainment and culminating with the arrival of Santa and lighting of the holiday tree.”
More information

Leavenworth Tree Lighting Festival (Leavenworth, WA)
December 1&2, 8&9, 15&16
Songs, Santa, Carolers/entertainers, evening lighting ceremony
More information
(Heads up: tours still available at discounted rates now at Goldstar! Look under “holiday events” for dates & pricing)
(PSS you can also take a snow train there. It is NOT cheap by any stretch, but man, this would be AWESOME.) 

Hark the Harbor (Gig Harbor, WA)
December 6, 7:30 – 9pm
Community caroling, lighted Argosy ship
More information

Candlelight Christmas in the Harbor (Gig Harbor, WA)
December 7 -9
Extended shopping hours & music along downtown Gig Harbor
More information  

Holiday Hayrides with Santa (Gig Harbor, WA)
December 7 – 8
No cost information available – this might be free – inquire
Refreshments provided
More information

Singing Christmas Tree (Tacoma, WA)
Life Center Church
December 7 – 23rd
Tickets start at $14
FREE for military and first responders
More information

Light in the Darkness Play (University Place, WA)
December 8 6pm
Narrows View Intermediate School
“A Christmas Celebration for the whole family. The broken find hope in the promise of a home ~ original drama, original music, holiday desserts, hot cider.”
More information  

Wright’s Park Conservatory – Classic Violin & Guitar (Tacoma, WA)
December 9, 1 – 2:30
Suggested $5 donation
More information

Tapestry Singers Christmas Concert (Puyallup, WA)
December 9, 3pm
Pilgrim Lutheran Church
Christmas music & refreshments served afterwards
Appears to be FREE – I don’t see prices listed anywhere
More information

Candy Cane Lane (Seattle, WA)
December 10 – Jan 1
More information  

Winter Arts Showcase – Metro Arts (Tacoma, WA)
December 14, 6pm & 15 12pm
Metro Arts ballet, tap, hip-hop, contemporary modern & theatre classes will be showcased in these free, informal performances.
Star Center
More information

Kids Night Out Star Center (Tacoma, WA)
December 14 6-9:30pm
Youth ages 6 to 12 will have a blast with our staff making crafts, playing games, eating pizza and (the best part!) watching a movie on the big screen!
$10-15/per child
More information

Holiday Boat Parade
December 15
Point Defiance Marina
“The Holiday Boat Parade travels along the Tacoma waterfront and features boats decorated with holiday lights. Watch from Point Defiance Marina and get into the holiday spirit!”
More information 

Community Hanukkah Celebration (Seattle)
December 18th, noon – 3pm
Stroum Jewish Community Center, 3801 Mercer Way
More information 

Point Defiance Zoo – Tacoma, WA
Nov 23 – Jan 1
Prices start at $4.25 for members, FREE for kids 2+ under
More information 

Christmas in Flight (heartwarming play)
First Presbyterian Church – Tacoma, WA
Dec 23 9:45 am
More information 

Angela’s Additional Ideas of Stuff to Do for Free

Here are some things that aren’t specific date/venue related, but tips for what to do for free

Visit Santa – don’t buy the photo!
So you know those Santas at the mall? My kids always like to say hi, but I don’t want to buy the photos. If they aren’t too busy, just ask if your kids can talk to Santa. We were at the Tacoma Mall yesterday and guess what – he was there already and NO line. My kids got to say hi, give him a hug, and they got a free lollipop.

Christmas Light Drives
In the evenings in December, my kids and I love to put on some Christmas music and scour the neighborhoods for lights. We have some favorite spots to go visit. Bring some cocoa or treats with you. Some places also will do food donations, so it wouldn’t hurt to throw a few cans in the car just in case!

Christmas Window Shopping
We love visiting pretty Christmas stores and just oohing and aaahing! We love hitting up Seattle around Christmas time to take in the lights and store window fronts.

Holiday Movie Nights
Another activity we enjoy? Having a movie marathon where you watch a bunch of your favorite holiday movies! Order in a pizza or make Christmas cookies. Right now our favorite is Elf. It’s not even December and I would suspect we’ve watched it at least 10 or 12 times so far this year (that is a conservative estimate!)

Here’s a fun and free activity that the whole family can get involved with! Why not volunteer to wrap up some gifts for a toy drive or help pass out food to the homeless through your food bank? This could be a great way to start a new tradition in your family that’s free, fun, and blesses the community.

Also, remember that many, many churches offer candlelight and/or Christmas Eve services. These are free to attend! My church in Federal Way will be having such a service at 3, 5, and 7pm on the 24th – and you are welcome to participate!

I also want to make a plug for Goldstar. They are selling discounted admission and tickets for holiday events happening in many major US cities. Just today I found holiday plays, dinner cruises, improv, ballets and more! Create a free account with your email address and check out the holiday tab to see what’s available in your neck of the woods.


  1. Bronwyn says

    We did the snow train with Alki tours a few years back and really enjoyed it!

    I honestly would recommend it for children under 5 or so. OR for children who don’t like staying in one spot very long, like on an airplane. There is not tons of room to “run around” on the train and the aisle will almost always be occupied by the entertainment people. We were enamoured with the lady playing the accordian! LOL

    Thank you so much for putting this list together! This year we are looking to do some things with our grandson and I’m especially excited about Candy Cane lane and Snowflake lane!

    • arussell says

      Did you think the snow train was worth the cost then? I’m half tempted!! :)

      We’ve never done Snowflake or Candy Cane lane – have you? Thoughts?

      • Jenny says

        I don’t think Candy Cane Lane would be worth a trip from Tacoma at all, but is a nice spot to see lights if you’re in Seattle. It’s cute. I used to live right by there and always enjoyed walking through it more than driving through. I recommend parking a few blocks away if possible (and if you and your kids are up for it) instead of driving through.

  2. Jenny says

    Also, Renton has a tree lighting on December 1st and Coulon park in Renton (on Lake Washington) has Ivar’s Clam Lights nightly. I haven’t done either, but I’ve heard they’re both fun.

  3. Jenny says

    Also, Woodland Park Zoo is doing their own version of zoo lights this year. I think it’s called Wild Lights. I’m not sure if there’s a discount for members, but I believe it’s around $9, and if you go M-Th the parking is free (otherwise around $5). I saw them setting up for it about a week ago and it looked like it would be really neat.

  4. Bronwyn says

    Hey Thanks for the tips Jenny! I always forget about Clam Lights! And I agree about Candy Cane Lane all the way from Tacoma. There are blocks of neighborhoods that still go for it with the lights, I believe in Tacoma.

    Angela, I have to be honest. I won the trip so I didn’t pay for it. Though we enjoyed it, I honestly wouldn’t have paid Alki prices for it, especially if I had children that weren’t in to window shopping and lots of walking after you get to Leavenworth. If anything I would look into the train to the Ice Festival in January for your family.

  5. Clairissa says

    We always enjoy the Bellevue botanical gardens light display. Im not quite sure how much it is, but its always fun for our family!

  6. Tiff W says

    Olympia: dec 5, Olympia waterfront: lighted ship parade. It was really brief and so cold when we went but sorta fun. I don’t know the time.

    Does anyone had any other free or cheap things to do for the holidays near Olympia? I’m jealous of all of the neat stuff that is near Seattle.

  7. Kati says

    The bellevue botanical garden has free nights
    EVENT FREE NIGHTS: November 26, 27, 28, 29 and December 3, 4, 5, 6
    Usually all can be accommodated on free nights, but event staff will be present to control
    the flow of entrants so everyone can have an enjoyable experience. There could be a wait.

    We did this last year and it is fun!! Get there early and you shouldnt have a problem getting thru!!


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