The holiday carousel returns to Westlake Park. Courtesy of www.
The holiday carousel returns to Westlake Park. Courtesy of www.
Our dreary, rainy weather doesn’t lend itself to thoughts of winter, snow and the holidays much around here, but there are activities throughout the Seattle area that will get one into the holiday spirit — especially if you’re of or with the younger set who wants or needs to get outdoors.

Here are some free or low-cost holiday events that will keep some of that spending money in your pocket for gift shopping.

There’s plenty to see and do downtown amidst all the holiday shopping. At Pacific Place (Sixth Avenue and Pine Street), the atrium becomes a winter wonderland each night at 6 p.m. with Snow Flurries, through Dec. 31. To complete the scene, Santa visits and holiday music plays.
Cost: Free
Information: (206) 405-2655 or

A holiday fixture for more than 20 years, the Wonderland Holiday Carousel in Westlake Park (401 Pine St.) continues to give riders a turn on its brightly painted, antique horses. The carousel runs through Jan. 1.
Cost: $2 donation, to benefit Treehouse

Teddy-bear lovers can drop in at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel (411 University St.), where the Teddy Bear Suite is among the holiday festivities through Dec. 24. It features a gingerbread Seattle Wheel, a teddy-bear exhibit and stories and holiday music performed by local youth and school choirs.
Cost: Free

Through Jan. 1, the Seattle Sheraton (1400 Sixth Ave.) presents its Gingerbread Village, which, this year, features a “Once Upon a Time” theme, with princesses, princes and castles among the edible creations made by local architecture firms, trade associations and Sheraton’s culinary team.
Cost: Free
Information: (206) 621-9000 or

At the Center of it all
If you’re wanting to avoid the hustle and bustle of shopping areas with little ones in tow, head to the Seattle Center (305 Harrison St.), where the grounds have been taken over by Winterfest for six weeks of the holiday season. Through Jan. 6, Seattle Center will be home to the Winter Train and Village (10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Armory, formerly the Center House), an ice rink, ice sculpting and live music performances, among other holiday treats.
Cost: Free (except Winter Train and Village rides, $2 suggested donation)
Information: (206) 684-7200 or

The Children’s Museum, also on the Seattle Center grounds, offers its Festival of Lights through Jan. 6 for families with children age 10 and younger. Each week, the museum’s kid-sized “household” will change to celebrate a new winter festival — such as Las Posadas, Christmas, Kwanzaa and Chinese New Year — with games, activities, music, food and decorations.
Cost: Free with admission or membership
Information: (2060 441-1768 or

On the wild side
To completely escape the wildness of holiday shoppers and focus on real wildlife, the Seattle Aquarium, on the Seattle waterfront at 1483 Alaskan Way, presents a Diving Santa, who will swim into the Windows on Washington Water exhibits on weekends through Dec. 23. Local youth jazz ensembles and string quartets will entertain visitors in between dives.
Cost: Free with admission
Information: (206) 386-4300 or

And there’s the new WildLights winter lights festival, which runs through Jan. 1, at the Woodland Park Zoo (750 N. 50th St.) in Phinney Ridge. The zoo recreates wild animals and wild places in indoor and outdoor displays with thousands of LED lights. Other festive elements include visiting reindeer and the historic carousel (for an additional fee).
Cost: $6.50-$9.50 (children 2 and younger are free)
Information: (206) 548-2500 or