Seattle Holiday Festivities: Enjoy Christmas American Style

Need a serious infusion of holiday spirit? Head to Seattle for a big dose of yule

Credit: Flickr/James Callan

The Macy’s star lights the way to festive activites during the Christmas season in Seattle

Need a little help getting in the Christmas spirit? No one does Christmas like an American city, and Seattle will give you a solid infusion of Christmas done large

Hop on the train from Vancouver to Seattle, stay in a luxury hotel that has decked its halls with boughs of holly (and then some), see a holiday play, visit the wow-inspiring windows of some big-name departments stores, fill up on holiday fare, and more.

Here’s what to do and see in Seattle during the festive season.

Vancouver to Seattle by Train

Leave the car (and the border lineups) at home and take the 6:40 am Amtrak Cascades train from Vancouver to Seattle.

It’s affordable, especially considering the soaring gas prices, fast (about a four-hour journey) and you can use the time to gaze out the window, grab a few extra zzz’s, or catch up on e-mail with free wi-fi.

A swat team of customs officers hop on-board at the US border, collecting passports and customs forms in a snap.

You’ll arrive around 11 am just a few blocks away from The Fairmont Olympic Hotel.

Check in for two nights, leave your bags with bell desk until your room is ready, and hit the city for some sightseeing and shopping.

Downtown Seattle’s Christmas Windows and Shopping

Westlake Centre is just a few walkable blocks away; hop on the outdoor Holiday Carousel, visit Macy’s Santaland and Nordstrom’s Santa Lane – the two department stores are a stones’ throw from each other.

Be sure to see the stunning Christmas windows—there is something about big American department stores’ windows that’s very different from Canadian displays, and these two are classics.

Hop on the iconic monorail to Seattle Center to check out Winter Fest’s ice rink or go up the Space Needle, especially if you have never done so before.

Then, head back to the Fairmont to settle into your room, but just for a quick rest: it’s time for a night out. After admiring the hotel’s holiday décor, especially its beautifully decorated 25-foot noble fir tree in the lobby, slip into The Terrace Lounge for the seasonal Pumpkin Pie cocktail; with its hint of Drambuie, it’s not too sweet.

Next, dinner at one of Seattle restaurateur Tom Douglas’ hot spots—Lola—again, walking distance from the hotel. With its Mediterranean theme, you’ll want to start with the Haloumi cheese, kalamata and fig platter, then nibble on a variety of kebabs.

Holiday Festivities at the Fairmont

Sleep in. Eat a light breakfast so you save room for the Fairmont’s traditional high tea, which becomes Holiday Tea until December 30, served in The Georgian restaurant. Choose the cinnamon-infused holiday tea, and nibble from a tiered tray of seasonal pastries, house-made scones with Devon cream and jam, and finger sandwiches. So fabulously Fairmont.

After tea, wander the hotel’s holiday offerings, like the Festive Gingerbread Artistry, until December 25. Executive Pastry Chef Artis Kalsons and his team created Christmas in Venice, a stunning miniature right in the main lobby.

Also visit the Teddy Bear Suite until December 26, a lovely, magical guest room that all ages will appreciate, designed by Kevin Bradford, a Seattle-based interior designer. Donations go to Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Dinner and Holiday Theatre

For dinner, take the two seats tucked around the corner of the bar at Shuckers Oyster Bar for a local microbrew beer flight and the freshest oysters in the city. Take in the ‘they don’t make ‘em like this anymore’ carved oak panelling and tin ceiling from what used to be a haberdashery back in the 1930s.

Then catch a play at 5th Avenue Theatre across the street from the hotel, a Broadway-style Grande dame of a playhouse built in 1926. Rogers and Hammersteins’ Cinderella, a big, splashy holiday musical at its best, is playing until December 31. When you book your tickets, be sure to ask about having a drink in the Producers Lounge – you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

Christmas in the city – doesn’t get much more holiday-style than Seattle.

IMAGES: Catherine Dunwoody

Freelance writer, editor, stylist Catherine Dunwoody puts the ‘style’ in lifestyle stories. Based in Vancouver, Catherine is a regular contributor to TV Week, BC Home, Western Living, Nuvo and numerous other publications and television programs.