With the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers taken care of, the countdown to the holidays is officially on.
During the month of December, there are plenty of events around the Inland Northwest to get you in a holly jolly mood. Here’s a look at just a few of the events you might want to put on your calendar.
Santa Express, a pop-up shop that benefits the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, gives children ages 4-12 the chance to take part in the holiday shopping experience.
Gifts range in price from 50 cents to $8, and children are paired with a volunteer “elf” who helps them pick out the perfect gift for everyone on their list.
After they finish shopping, children head to the gift wrapping area where they can decorate paper bags using markers, colored pencils, crayons and stamps.
Over the course of its 25 years, Santa Express has raised more than $1 million for the nursery.
If you go: Through Dec. 23; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturdays; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays. River Park Square, second level, next to Urban Outfitters, 808 W. Main Ave.; Free to enter; gifts range in price from 50 cents to $8.
Crescent Holiday Window Display
Once upon a time, the windows of the Crescent store were filled with brilliant holiday displays each December.
For decades, those displays were stored in the basement of the former store, until last winter when they were set up in various spots downtown. This year, thanks to Downtown Spokane Partnership and Davenport Hotels, those displays are once again going to have their time in the spotlight.
Beginning on Friday, six windows of the Davenport Grand Hotel will be filled with three displays: The Nutcracker, Whimsical Woodland and Candy Cane Forest with Santa’s Workshop.
Inside the Davenport, visitors can see the 13-foot-tall Santa Claus that used to sit outside the Crescent each year, which has been temporarily donated by Pat Conley, owner of White Elephant.
If you go: Friday through Jan. 2. Windows unveiled at 5:30 p.m. Friday. The Davenport Grand Hotel, 333 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. Displays are along the south side of the building along Main Avenue.
Christmas Tree Elegance
For 36 years, the Spokane Symphony has gotten an end-of-the-year boost thanks to Christmas Tree Elegance.
The annual benefit, produced by the Spokane Symphony Associates, features 18 prize packages, each of which includes a themed, custom-decorated tree. Prize packages may also include gift certificates, various items and cash.
Each raffle package – tickets sell for $1 each – is valued up to $5,000.
This year, two trees feature tickets to highly sought-after symphony concerts.
Twelve trees and their gifts are on display on the mezzanine of the Davenport Hotel, and six are on display on the skywalk level of River Park Square. The Davenport also features an Old World Father Christmas sculpture, created by Christmas Tree Elegance co-chair Elizabeth Raol, that is available as part of the raffle.
Ticket sales for the trees at the Davenport end Dec. 8 at 9 p.m. Ticket sales for the trees at River Park Square end Dec. 9 at 4 p.m.
If you go: Through Dec. 9. River Park Square, 808 W. Main Ave. and the Davenport Hotel, 10 S. Post St.; Free to view; tickets are $1 each.
Coeur d’Alene Holiday Light Show Cruise
Sure, Santa Claus’ main toy workshop is in the North Pole, but when he’s looking for a change of scenery, he heads to his workshop on the waterfront in Coeur d’Alene.
During the Couer d’Alene Resort’s Holiday Light Show Cruise, families can catch a glimpse of St. Nick and his elves working to make their Christmas deadline.
Families can also take in more than 1.5 million holiday lights and hear Santa speak to each child by name.
The 40-minute cruise departs from the Resort Plaza Shops at 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. Boarding begins 40 minutes before departure time.
If you go: Through Jan. 2; Coeur d’Alene Resort, 115 S. Second St., Coeur d’Alene. 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. Free/children 5 and younger, $7.50/children ages 6-12, $22.25/adults and $21.25/seniors, available through www.cdaresort.com.
Horse and Carriage Rides
It’s a winter scene as old as time: People bundled up in horse-drawn carriages, singing carols and taking in the sights of the city underneath a blanket of snow.
Wheatland Bank Free Horse and Carriage Rides are helping locals paint that picture by taking them on a tour of downtown Spokane.
Rides are offered on a first come, first served basis.
Also worth noting, the horses require lots of water and breaks. These breaks may affect wait times for the carriage rides.
If you go: Through Dec. 24; 3-8 p.m. Fridays (break from 6-7 p.m.); noon-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays (break from 2-3 p.m.); noon-3 p.m. Dec. 24. Pick-up at 221 N. Wall St., across from the Wheatland Bank ATM; Free.
Another classic winter scene? Ice skating in the park.
Whether you’re an ice skating novice or a pro, the Skate Ribbon is a convenient option for an hour or two of skating.
The Skate Ribbon is 16 feet wide and features a 650-foot-long pathway, complete with slight inclines and declines. There’s also a 3,500-square-foot attached pond.
When you need a minute to warm up, skaters and spectators can enjoy one of several fire pits and a cup of hot cocoa. There’s also the cafe the Skate Ribbon shares with the SkyRide for after you’ve skated up an appetite.
If you go: Through late February. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Dec. 22-Jan. 6. Closed Dec. 25. Riverfront Park, 720 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. One hour: $4.95/children 3-12; $6.95/adult. Additional hour: half price. Skate rentals: $4.50. Unlimited season pass available. Helmets are free upon request.
Spokane Winter Glow Spectacular
The folks at Winter Glow Spectacular have been thinking about December since the summer.
Each year, it takes the crew about six months to plan and execute the light show, which is currently brightening Cowley Park, to the north of Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital, after being set in the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center and Riverfront Park in previous years.
Illuminated snowmen, elves, Christmas trees and even the Winter Train Express and Santa himself will be on display.
For even more Christmas lights, be sure to stop by Gaiser Conservatory in Manito Park beginning Dec. 8 for the Friends of Manito’s Holiday Lights display, which runs through Dec. 15.
If you go: Through Jan. 1. Lights come on at dusk. Cowley Park, 602 S. Division St.
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