Below, we've rounded up the biggest and best festivals you need to know about this season, like the Timbrrr! Winter Music Festival and the Emerald City Comic Con. You can also find a complete list of festivals in Seattle this winter on our Things To Do calendar, or check out the rest of our critics' picks from Seattle Art and Performance.
Deck the Hall Ball 2018
Radio station 107.7 ("The End") presents a stacked lineup for their annual winter music spectacle with a few PNW superstars this year, including Death Cab For Cutie, Young the Giant, Bastille, Billie Eilish, and Jenn Champion.
DECEMBER 14–JANUARY 20
Snow Day in Denny Park
Denny Park's winter light display will provide a magical, twinkly weekday respite with a light display, food trucks, a beer garden, live entertainment, and a winter market.
Regardless of how you feel personally about SantaCon—the annual bar crawl that encourages adults to dress as the jolly mascot of Christmas and jingle their bells to various downtown watering holes—it will likely outlive us all. If you're participating, don't forget to hydrate with plenty of water and/or milk.
Renegade Craft Fair
Shop for crafts from new and returning makers while you enjoy live DJs, food trucks, and cocktails.
United Indians Art Market
Discover clothing, jewelry, drums, and art from local Native makers, watch Native performances, and feast at a salmon bake.
Winter Feast | Food Truck & Holiday Gift Bonanza
Snap up some street food at this Winter Feast at the Fremont Sunday Market from the Mobile Food Rodeo with 20 food trucks, including Lumpia World, Wood Shop BBQ, NOSH, Beanfish, It's Bao Time, and more. Plus, as always, local crafters and artisans will be tabling their wares.
THROUGH DECEMBER 16
The Bavarian-style village transforms into the most whimsical of winter wonderlands for three weekends in December, featuring hundreds of twinkling lights, visits from St. Nickolaus and other Christmas characters, carolers, and much more.
A Cascade Country Christmas
Join some of the best regional country music artists as they perform stripped down, acoustic versions of their tracks for an evening of Cascadian Christmas vibes, hosted by local talent Aaron Crawford.
Seattle Secular Solstice 2018
Regardless of your religion or lack thereof, celebrate the spirit of the holiday season with community members over songs and food at the annual Seattle Secular Solstice.
Northwest artists—primarily of the illustrative variety, but also featuring comic, anime, craft, and gaming artists—will show and sell their wares.
THROUGH DECEMBER 23
Christmas Ship Festival
Every holiday season, the Spirit of Seattle (Argosy Cruises's "Official Christmas Ship") sails to 65 Washington waterfronts, bringing Christmas choirs and sparkling light displays to onlookers.
THROUGH DECEMBER 24
Flurries of snow (the kind that shoots out of a machine) dust the streets as bright lights, festive music, toy drummers, and other emblems of magical holiday cheer fill the streets for nightly parades.
THROUGH DECEMBER 26
Seattle Festival of Trees
Every year, the historic hotel celebrates the winter season with a fancy dinner, caroling, an impressive display of decorated trees in their lobby, and a teddy bear suite.
THROUGH DECEMBER 30
Not to knock quaint community Christmas tree displays, but this inaugural event at the Mariners' home base looks like it's going to raise the standards for holiday light spectacles by a lot. Safeco Field will be transformed into a magnificent winter wonderland complete with the "world's largest Christmas light maze" (which you can explore via an ice skating trail), seasonal concessions, live entertainment, and an artisan Christmas market.
Walk among "half a million" sparkling lights in the shapes of flowers, plants, birds, and waterfalls at this annual holiday display.
Indulgence New Year's Eve Bash
The 18th annual Indulgence New Year's Eve Bash takes place right by the Space Needle, so attendees will have prime views of the fireworks show. Guests can also wander through the museum's exhibits and dance to party jams from a live band and live DJs.
Resolution Festival 2019
Resolution is an annual end-of-the-year electronic music bash that gathers extremely popular and mainstream EDM and nü-rave artists into an arena-like space and unleashes their energy onto a throng of writhing young adults. It's not for everybody, but what is?
Seattle Center New Year's Eve
Local Top 40 cover band Sway will bring all your favorite contemporary hits to the Armory dancefloor to ring in the new year, while the Fountain of Light electronic video dance party rages outside.
Spectra 2019: New Year’s Eve Under the Arches
Dance off the last hours of 2018 with live DJs and sip drinks from an open bar while you wait for the luminary explosions of the Space Needle's annual fireworks show to begin.
THROUGH JANUARY 1
For the 26th year in a row, diabetes research center JDRF Northwest has invited local architecture firms to use their skills for a holiday tradition: crafting an elaborate gingerbread village, this year with the theme of "Welcome to Whoville." See five life-size whimsical Seussian creations in person throughout the season, accompanied by clips from the classic 1966 How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Space is the Place Festival
Discover experimental jazz and other imaginative sounds from artists like the many-membered Sun Ra Arkestra, "outsider music" pioneer the Space Lady, Chicago's Spooky Action (described as "Bob Ross meets Fantasia"), instrumental duo Neil Welch and William Hayes, local sax and percussion duo Miller Adams Duo, and others.
Sixth Annual Big Ass Boom Box Festival
Early January is the live-music doldrums, so this free mini-festival of local bands, now in its sixth year, is a welcome respite from Top-40 DJ nights and other calendar-filling fluff. The lineup isn’t available yet, but it’s sure to please those seeking local rock and electronic music as usual. ANDREW GOSPE
Black Music for Black Lives Festival
Show your support for #BlackLivesMatter by joining a strong lineup of local black musicians, including rappers Money Making Prince and King Flyz, Tacoma's K.P. Tha Killa Percussionist, Zooited Gang, the Artist Keli, Kibbonafide, and many others.
THROUGH JANUARY 5
The zoo will light up with more than 700,000 (energy-efficient) LED lights that recreate wild scenes and creatures at the annual WildLights display.
THROUGH JANUARY 6
From a winter train village to an ice rink, and from music and dance performances to ice sculpting, Winterfest promises five weeks of free festive cheer for all ages.
Holiday traditions don't get more classic than strolling through the zoo when it's transformed into a luminous wonderland of 3-D animal light installations. Last year's displays included hammerhead sharks and sea turtles, a majestic polar bear family, and a giant Pacific octopus.
Seattle Pop Punk Festival Day 1
The Disorderlies, Hilltop Rats, Heck Yes, and Kids on Fire will band together to kick off the first day of Seattle's three-day-long Pop Punk Festival.
The bad news: You won't find many, if any, killer whale-related activities here. The good news: You will find tons of tabletop games, role-playing games, and miniature games to fill your weekend, whether you're a novice or pro player.
Seattle Pop Punk Festival
Shake off that winter chill and get your energy levels up for two days of double digits' worth of pop punk bands, including the Wanna-Bes, Dreadful Children, Who Is She?, Young Fresh Fellows, Shaolin Hunks, Phantom Racer, and many more.
Lake Chelan Winterfest
Lake Chelan hosts two weekends of wintery fun for the whole family, including ice sculptures, live music, wine and beer tastings, a polar bear splash, a massive beach bonfire, and a fireworks show.
At this annual festival, join hundreds of other beer lovers to try Pacific Northwest brews and take in local music in various downtown Ellensburg businesses and venues.
Bavarian Ice Fest
Washington's Bavarian-inspired village retains its holiday magic and whimsy, even after New Year's Eve, during its annual Bavarian Ice Fest. Head there for snow sculptures, wintery games, a snowmobile sled pull, live ice carving, and much more.
Limmud Festival of Jewish Learning
Limmud (which means "learning" in Hebrew) invites people of all backgrounds to discover Jewish art, music, food, history, and more through activities like hands-on workshops, live performances, and panel discussions.
Timbrrr! Winter Music Festival
This event in Leavenworth—the infamous German-themed town/tourist attraction nestled in the Cascades—looks like the coziest mid-winter music festival, filled with beardo-magnet amenities like skiing and snowboarding, a hot-toddy garden, wine tastings, and festival-branded flannel shirts. The weekend’s musical offerings are generally varied, with numerous local and national acts ranging from indie rock to hiphop. This year's roster is no exception, boasting sets by Shannon & the Clams, Kyle Craft, the True Loves, Parisalexa, Jenn Champion, Tres Leches, and many more. BRITTNIE FULLER
Têt in Seattle – Vietnamese Lunar New Year
Celebrate the Year of the Pig at this annual festival in anticipation of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year in early February. As always, there will be hands-on cultural activities, traditional food, crafts, martial arts performances, and more.
Belgian beers don't have to be from Belgium—this brew fest highlights over 100 Washington breweries' Belgian-style beers, including Tripels, Dubbels, Saisons, Wits, Abbeys, and Lambics.
SR 99 - Step Forward
Celebrate the final days of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and check out the new SR 99 tunnel at this grand opening festival that will include a fun run and bike ride, live music, food trucks, and tours.
Northwest Flower & Garden Festival
The theme of this year's Northwest Flower & Garden Festival is "Gardens of the World." Walk among 20 display gardens representing different part of the globe, attend seminars, and find lots of plant treasures for your own garden.
Seattle Wine and Food Experience
This annual extravaganza of all things edible and drinkable is an ode to gluttony in three parts. First up is Comfort, a festival of “feel-good foods and crafty brews,” complete with bars for French fries, Bloody Marys, hot toddies, and milk and cookies. Next, POP! Bubbles and Seafood capitalizes on the felicitous pairing of bubbles and bivalves with a celebrity shucking contest and more than 30 sparkling wines from around the world. Finally, the Grand Tasting will showcase local and regional wines, beer, cider, spirits, and tastes from big-name Seattle chefs, with plenty of opportunities to watch demonstrations and meet artisan food producers.
Bluegrass artists from near and far will gather to play their twangy, resonant music at this annual festival. The lineup features Billy Strings, Steep Canyon Rangers, Della Mae, Sideline, Bill & the Belles, and many others.
Hops & Props
Hops & Props celebrates craft brews from across the Northwest (and a few from other places). Enjoy three-ounce pours from over 100 breweries and cider houses, a spread of bites from McCormick & Schmick’s, and live music.
Seattle Cake Con
Cake Con not only promises cake, but also chocolate, ice cream, macarons, doughnuts, and other sweets. In addition to tasting things, attendees can enter decorating competitions, see live demonstrations, and chat with experts across confectionary disciplines.
Penn Cove Musselfest
Thanks to the nutrient-rich outflow of water from the Skagit River, beautiful Penn Cove’s famous mussels grow full-sized in record time and are harvested young, making them impossibly firm, fat, and sweet. This annual festival, which bills itself as a celebration of all things “bold, briny, and blue,” features boat tours of the Penn Cove Mussel Farm, a mussel eating contest, cooking demonstrations with local chefs, a waterfront beer garden, and the main event: a tasting competition with 16 restaurants from all over Coupeville vying to have their mussel chowder declared the finest in town.
Seattle Cocktail Week
This week-long event elevates the movers and (cocktail) shakers of the Seattle bar scene with special libations available at participating venues, plus master classes, seminars, pop-ups, bar takeovers, competitions, a tasting event, and more.
Brazilian Carnaval 25th Anniversary!
Eduardo and Ana Paula Mendonça present this Seattle-based celebration of Brazilian Carnaval (an annual festival with parades, dancing, singing, and celebration that happens before Lent begins) that will take into account issues of power, racial exclusion, and social inequality. Attendees will get to experience a wide variety of region- and culture-specific Brazilian music and dance.
Look Up Fest: Underwater
For a long evening of "high strangeness," this paranormal mini music festival and art exhibition will feature local psychedelic dream and electro pop bands, plenty of beer on tap, and multimedia art displays inspired by aquatic paranormal encounters, with lighting installations by Blazinspace.
Emerald City Comic Con
Geeks across fandoms save their most inventive cosplay for the biggest local comic event of the year, Emerald City Comic Con. The four-day event is filled to the brim with panels, meetups, special events, fun parties, and tons and tons of guests hanging out in the artist alley. This year, don't miss the chance to meet Black Panther World of Wakanda's Afua Richardson, Agents of Realm's Mildred Louis, and Star Wars's Katie Cook.
This festival is chock-full of performances, live music ideal for practicing your Irish jigs, short film screenings, genealogy workshops, food, and more, just in time for St. Patrick's Day.