Listed below we keep a list of Christmas tree lighting celebrations in cities and communities around the Puget Sound region.
In case you are wondering where we got the custom of lighting trees in winter, we dug up some interesting history.
A short history of Christmas tree traditions
The tradition of the Christmas tree evolved over a period of several hundred years. There are a lot of twists and turns to the story. No two historians would likely tell the story the same way. But here is a very brief account of what has occurred:
Evergreen wreaths, garlands, and trees have been a symbol of eternal life in many cultures throughout history. Because they remained green all year, it was natural for people to develop various winter customs: to decorate the house in winter, provide a setting for birds, scare away evil spirits, and recognize the winter solstice as the turning point to spring, among other rites, traditions, and beliefs.
Christmas trees were considered pagan symbols and heathen traditions by some Christians, but embraced by others. In any case, these paths converged in post-medieval Europe. The various customs and ideas evolved further into the Christmas tree tradition most of us know today: an evergreen tree adorned with lights, ornaments, and gifts.
The two most famous trees in the U.S. are The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in New York City with over 25,000 Christmas lights and The National Christmas Tree at the White House in Washington, D.C.
2023 Christmas tree lighting events
Most Christmas tree lighting events have music in some form. Many also have other family-friendly activities before and after the tree lighting. These might include Santa’s arrival and/or photo ops, holiday markets, food vendors, and other activities. Check their link for details.
(Listed by date, then alphabetically by city)
Friday, November 24, 2023 tree lighting events
Everett. Get into the holiday spirit at Everett’s Wintertide Kickoff Celebration. Witness the mesmerizing illumination of the downtown holiday tree and lighting displays. Santa lights up the place at 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 24. Catch a photo with Santa inside the Historic Everett Theatre. Santa will sit for photos on Friday, Nov. 24 from 5:30 – 8 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 25 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Bring your own camera/phone. Park in Everett’s FREE parking garage, Everpark. It’s smack-dab in the middle of all the action. Restrooms available for public use at the Historic Everett Theatre. More info: Wintertide | Everett
Poulsbo. Tree Lighting. November 24, 2023 @ 3:30 PM – 6:00 PM. Santa will lead a holiday procession from Poulsbo Parks and Recreation to the Liberty Bay Waterfront Park where he will officially light the tree around 5:00pm. Once the tree is lit, Santa will be available for photographs. There will be live performances to fill the air with holiday cheer, plus cookie & ornament decorating. More info: Event Calendar | Poulsbo
Seattle. Westlake Park Friday after Thanksgiving. The festivities begin at 3:30 p.m. with local live music, costumed characters, and giveaways. It all leads up to the main event at 5:00 p.m. when the 45-foot holiday tree lights up, followed by a spectacular fireworks show! More info: Tree Lighting Celebration at Westlake Park and Holiday Activities in Downtown Seattle (downtownseattle.org)
Saturday, November 25, 2023 tree lighting events
Buckley. Annual tree lighting and more from noon to 7PM, including a Holiday Market (noon-6PM), Photos with Santa (3-6PM), S’mores (3-7PM), and more. TREE LIGHTING at 5pm. More info: Buckley Holiday Festivities: Annual Tree Lighting & more | Facebook and Events (buckleychamber.com)
Seattle. Pike Place Market kicks off the holiday season with their annual Magic in the Market celebration Saturday after Thanksgiving from 11am-5:30pm with plenty of holiday spirit across all 9-acres of the historic neighborhood. Bring the whole family to meet Santa, listen to caroling, sip some eggnog, and shop for loved ones, all leading up to the famous Market lighting ceremony at 5pm. More info: 28th Annual Magic in the Market – Pike Place Market and Pike Place Market (pikeplacemarket.org)
Snohomish. Historic Downtown Snohomish lights the Christmas tree Saturday after Thanksgiving. Be there at 2:30PM to greet Santa as he parades up First Street from the Gazebo on Avenue A to the Carnegie Building at First and Cedar. Santa’s reindeer and the Llama Lady will also be there to greet you. Have your picture taken with Santa inside the Carnegie, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and get ready to sing the Christmas countdown with Tim Noah to light the tree at 4:30pm. More info: Tree Lighting and Santa | HDSA Website (historicdowntownsnohomish.org)
Tacoma. The City of Destiny 78th annual Tacoma holiday tree lighting beginning at 5:00 p.m at the Pantages Theater (901 Broadway) to usher in the holiday season! Arrive early for a delightful performance of Joy to the World by Tacoma Concert Band. The performance starts at 3:00 p.m. (The Tacoma Concert Band show is FREE for patrons 18 years and under when you visit the Box Office in person to receive this free ticket offer.) More info: 78th Annual Tacoma Tree Lighting | Tacoma City Theaters and Events | Tacoma City Theaters
Sunday, November 26, 2023 tree lighting events
Friday, December 1, 2023 tree lighting events
Anacortes. 6:00-7:00PM. Jingle all the way down to Anacortes for the Coastal Christmas Tree Lighting featuring music, guest appearances from Santa, hot cocoa, and festive cheer. The festivities begin at 6 pm with the tree lighting ceremony at approximately 6:45 pm. More info: Coastal Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony | Experience Anacortes
Des Moines. 5:00pm-7:00pm at Big Catch Plaza. Join friends and the Waterland Community to brighten the city with the 6PM lighting of the tree! Enjoy warm hot cocoa & cookies, sing and dance to holiday music, and greet and take pictures with Santa himself! More info: DES MOINES EVENTS CALENDAR (destinationdesmoines.org)
Kirkland. 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm. Google Lights along the Cross Kirkland Corridor. Kirkland’s mayor flips the switch precisely at 5:30 pm at Google Building C, 747 6th St. S. Kirkland will welcome this nightly celebration with a campus fair including food, petting zoo, carolers, and games. More info: Google Lights – Kirkland Downtown Association
Mercer Island. Illuminate MI | Mercer Island, WA. Annual tree lighting event at 5:45PM in Mercerdale Park (3009 77th Ave SE, Mercer Island, WA 98040).
Renton. Winter Lights at Coulon Park Opening night December 1 features Santa’s arrival at 6PM followed by photos ops with the big guy, parade of boats at 7:30, and Argosy Christmas Ship at 8:10. Free event with free parking. Winter lights operate nightly December 1, 2023 – January 1, 2024 from 4-9PM. More info: City of Renton and Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park (1201 Lake Washington Blvd. N. 98056).
University Place. First Friday in December. Annual Christmas Tree Lighting in Market Square with food, music, children’s activities and much, much more. The fun will begin at 5 p.m. with holiday music by the Stacy Jones Band who will welcome Santa. The man in red will be available for pictures in the beautifully decorated Civic Building Atrium from 5-7:30 p.m. and will take a brief break to help us flip the switch to light the tree at 6 p.m. Before and after the lighting ceremony, Market Square will be bustling with family-friendly attractions. More info: Events | University Place, WA (cityofup.com)
Saturday, December 2, 2023 tree lighting events
Auburn. Lighted Santa Parade & Tree Lighting along Main Street. From Auburn High School to City Hall, lighted entries will fill Main Street with holiday joy! Beginning at 4:30 PM the parade will feature lighted vehicles, floats, cars, and walking entries. After the parade, join the fun at City Hall to wrap up the event with the annual tree lighting plus a visit from Santa. More info: Santa Parade & Tree Lighting (auburnwa.gov) and Special Events – City of Auburn (auburnwa.gov)
Bothell. Tree Lighting Festival always the first Saturday of December. Join Santa under the tree at 5 PM (102nd Avenue NE and Main Street). Free goodies and activities for the kids from Local Merchants. Come early and Enjoy Bothell’s Holiday Market Open 2-6:30 P.M. Festival Open 4-6:30 P.M. To keep the season bright we will light Lucky the Tree every night from December 2nd through New Year’s. More info: Bothell Main Street Tree Lighting Festival (bothelltreelightingfestival.com)
Everett. 16th annual Holiday on the Bay family fun on December 2, 2023 from noon – 6 p.m. at the Pacific Rim Plaza, near Hotel Indigo. Rain or shine,, enjoy the day’s outdoor festivities including a holiday pop-up market, food trucks, free kids’ activities, festive music and lighting displays. At 5PM, there is a tree-lighting ceremony and at 5:30 a lighted boat parade. More info: Holiday on the Bay | Port of Everett
Gig Harbor. Usually 1st Saturday of December. Holiday Tree Lighting in Skansie Brothers Park from 5:00-7:30PM. Features live holiday music, complimentary hot cocoa, vendors along Harborview Drive, and Mr. and Mrs. Claus available for photos. Harborview Drive between Pioneer and Rosedale will be closed from 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM come early to get parking or expect to walk to the waterfront. Wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather which is usually pretty cold. This event is a free, family-friendly community event. More info: Annual Gig Harbor Tree Lighting (livingingigharbor.com)
Kent. Winterfest Tree Lighting & Parade. Saturday, December 2 – 3-6 p.m. The most wonderful time of the year! Parade: 4:30 pm. Santa Arrival: 4:45 pm. Tree Lighting: 5:30 p.m. (Town Square Park). Bring your camera to take a picture with Santa. Holiday Parade through Kent Station and historic downtown Kent (W Meeker & 1st Ave S). Community Booths with kids activities, hot chocolate, and snacks. More info: Winterfest Tree Lighting & Parade – Kent Downtown Partnership (downtownkentwa.com)
La Conner. Annual Christmas Tree Lighting from 5PM to 6 PM in Gilkey Square. Santa will be there to entertain the children. More info: Christmas Tree Lighting in Gilkey Square – Dec 2, 2023 – Events – Love La Conner and Events Calendar – Love La Conner
Marysville. Merrysville for the Holidays (marysvillewa.gov). Invites families to enjoy a winter wonderland of holiday fun, food, live music and a parade of lights. Schedule: Beginning at 4:00 PM: Winter Wonderland Activities, Vendors, Food Trucks, Live Music. 6:30 p.m.: Electric Lights Parade. 7:00 p.m. – Tree Lighting, Santa Photos and Live Music.
Mill Creek. Santa parade and Christmas tree lighting at Town Center. Festival of Trees continues through December 31. The Festival of Trees is a scavenger hunt. Cute woodland creatures are hidden on storefront windows throughout Mill Creek Town Center. Participants walk along Main Street, noting where they find all four of the woodland creatures and can then submit an entry to win prizes. More info: Festival of Trees – City of Mill Creek and Community Events – City of Mill Creek (millcreekwa.gov)
Mountlake Terrace has its Tree Lighting Ceremony on the first Friday evening in December each year. Join the city for the 40th year of lighting the tree of lights on top of the water tower as well as a 20-foot tree in the Jerry Smith Town Center Plaza. The “tree” on the water tower is actually a frame constructed with over 1,800 LED lights, visible from I-5 and for miles around. The event traditionally includes the arrival of Santa on a fire truck, local school choirs, cookies, cocoa, sponsor recognition and the lighting of the tree. More info: Tree Lighting | Mountlake Terrace, WA (cityofmlt.com)
Redmond. Redmond Lights. A free, month-long celebration in Downtown Park. Enjoy art and light installations every night in December through January 3, 2024 from 5 – 11 p.m. Kick-Off Night on December 2 from 4 – 8 p.m.
Woodinville. Holiday Fair & Tree Lighting – Celebrate Woodinville. Holiday Fair from 3-6PM throughout Woodinville. Tree Lighting at 5:30PM in Deyoung Park (13680 NE 175th St, Woodinville, WA 98072).
Saturday, December 9, 2023 tree lighting events
West Seattle. GLOWS (Glorious Lights of West Seattle) Festival with Tree Lighting, Holiday Night Market and more! More info: Hometown Holidays • West Seattle Junction Association (wsjunction.org) and West Seattle Junction Association (wsjunction.org)
Upcoming Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa & Holiday Events
The following events on our calendar include winter holiday events of all kinds.