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Sparkle of Seattle

Celebrate the holidays with a journey to the Emerald City

Robyn Roehm Cannon Special to The Spokesman-Review

The days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day always remind me of videotape on fast forward. Once the season kicks off, there’s way too much to fill a holiday calendar. While you’re making your list and checking it twice, remember to save time to relax and savor the sparkle of the holidays. If your plans include a trip to the Emerald City, here are a few ideas to help you celebrate in Seattle this December.

Sleep tight with Santa

December is a great month for cool Yule getaway packages with discounted rates at downtown Seattle hotels. Depending on the location, you’ll be treated to valet parking and breakfast, free WiFi Internet, monorail tickets, $50 VISA or American Express cards or gift cards with values up to $200 at Nordstrom or Macy’s, photos with Santa, Ralph Lauren tote bags, chocolate nutcrackers, a bottle of bubbly, generous dining credits at area restaurants and even a Junior Suite with two main floor tickets to a show.

Park and shop

You’ll find it easier than ever to park downtown on the cheap with seven new garages, all offering flat rates of $7 or less.

Dazzling lights and seasonal action

Seattle is brimming with beautiful light displays this year. Here are a few spots not to miss:

• Treat your family to a ride on the Christmas Story Holiday Carousel at Westlake Park. Though it’s free, foster kids served by Treehouse will benefit from a suggested donation of $3. www.treehouseforkids.org

• Hop aboard a festively lit Argosy Christmas Ship on Puget Sound’s waterfront, a holiday tradition that dates back 65 years. There will be choir performances, singing carolers, hot chocolate and on some trips, a full meal. www.argosycruises.com/dining- cruises/christmas-ship-festival

• On Dec. 11, watch holiday ships from shore during the first Seattle Art Museum Lights at the Olympic Sculpture Park, when the park will glow with hundreds of luminaries and magical lights. www.seattleartmuseum.org

• Sip seasonal Seattle microbrews and tour neighborhood lights with Evergreen Escapes’ “Brews and Bulbs” holiday tour Dec. 12 through Dec. 28. www.evergreenescapes.com/ seattle-holiday-brewery-tour

• Visit Woodland Park Zoo’s WildLights and enjoy a holiday-themed safari with thousands of indoor and outdoor light displays inspired by exotic animals and destinations from around the globe, through Jan. 4. www.zoo.org/wildlights

• Check out the Seattle Center Armory during Winterfest. You’ll find a charming miniature Winter Train and Village, along with featured nightly entertainment. The Winterfest Ice Rink is open through Jan. 5. www.seattlecenter.com/winterfest

• Bring in 2015 with a bang with two signature parties at the Space Needle: Feast on a five-course dinner at the Sky City party or head straight to the dance party on the Observation Deck. KEXP (90.3FM) will provide the music and when the clock strikes midnight, witness one of the world’s largest pyrotechnic displays. www.spaceneedle.com

Get cuddly at the Fairmont’s Teddy Bear Suite

Some holiday traditions never change, like the magical Teddy Bear Suite at Seattle’s beloved historic hotel, The Fairmont Olympic. A lavishly decorated set of rooms overflows with hundreds of teddy bears in every size and color. Kids are welcome to cuddle the bears and family photos are encouraged. On Dec. 20, book high tea and caroling with Santa and Mrs. Claus and enjoy the hotel’s 37th annual Festival of Trees that runs through early December. www.fairmont.com/seattle/ special-offers/other-offers/ teddy-bear-suite/

It’s beginning to look a lot like cocktails

Take that much needed break from shopping for a festive cocktail at Oliver’s Lounge, off the lobby of the historic Mayflower Park Hotel, across from Macy’s. You’ll feel like you’re in uptown Manhattan and you can get a great martini – Oliver’s has held the title for “Best Classic” for the past eight years. If you arrive in time for happy hour, you’ll be treated to complimentary hot appetizers. <strong>http://mayflowerpark.com /olivers-cocktails-snacks.asp

Who’s that in the sky?

On Dec. 14, head out to the Museum of Flight at 9 a.m. when Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive via airplane. They’ll greet your little ones and hear their holiday wishes and as you walk through the galleries, the Boeing Concert Orchestra and Boeing Band will perform holiday classics until 4 p.m. Seattle musician Casper Babypants (Chris Ballew of the Presidents of the United States of America) will be on hand for a live performance of family friendly music, too. www.museumofflight.org

Bellevue: Seattle’s fashionable east side

Talk about sparkle!

• Join the 10th anniversary of Snowflake Lane for nightly evening performances of more than 200 live toy soldier drummers, costumed characters, lively music, falling snow and glittering lights. Snowflake Lane is located along Bellevue Way between Bellevue Square and Lincoln Square. From Dec. 26 through Dec. 31, the streets are transformed nightly into a New Year’s Eve celebration, with music, lights, confetti and music to ring in the New Year. www.bellevuecollection.com/ snowflakelane

• Book the elegant Bellevue Hyatt’s “Shop and Stay” or “Date Night” package and you’ll be in the center of all the activities when they happen right outside the hotel. http://www.bellevue.hyatt.com/en/ hotel/offers/offer-detail.html? offerId=53041140&code

• You’ve never seen a more magical flower garden than Garden d’Lights at Bellevue Botanical Garden. Hundreds of volunteers work year-round to bundle strings of lights into breathtaking three-dimensional flowers, shrubs and vines, inspired by plants found in Northwest gardens. Tickets are $5 (children 10 and younger are admitted free) and can be purchased online at www.gardendlights.org

• If luxury retail is your thrill, spending an afternoon at the beautiful collection of designer showrooms anchored by Neiman Marcus at The Bravern is a must. http://thebravern.com/shops

• When you’re ready for a break, head to the comfortable John Howie Steak for stellar service and prime custom-aged steaks that recently won Seattle Magazine’s reader’s choice award for best steak. Classic Manhattans are expertly mixed with Howie’s proprietary line of specialty bourbons. And here’s a tip: Every Sunday, the most delicious and giant burger you’ve ever eaten can be bought in the lounge for just $11 all day long. http://thebravern.com/ dining/john-howie-steak

You’ll find a full list of activities, entertainment and lodging choices at www.HolidaysInSeattle.com.
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