The best thing about December is that there is never a shortage of things to do. Want to holiday it up? Lots of options. But you can ignore the jingle bells too. Many towns open up their downtown blocks to some form of winter festival, and lights illuminate what is otherwise a dim month in the Pacific Northwest.
Bellingham's charming enclave of Fairhaven embraces the holiday season with a series of events around the historic neighborhood, starting with a luminary-lit walk on December 4. The town's lighted bike parade is held on December 11, ending in Fairhaven Village Green for hot chocolate. Shops vie for a best decorated window prize, voted on by the public, and Fairhaven's bookstore hosts a night of holiday specific original stories from local authors. Besides the snow, it's basically the North Pole up there.
With one of the longest single beaches in the world at 28 miles—all public!—Long Beach has a lot to celebrate even in winter. The New Year's Eve celebration was canceled last year for multiple reasons, but it allowed the town to prepare for a particularly big fireworks display this year, ringing in 2022 as the town's 100-year anniversary.
For the third year, the capital city hosts a popup ice skating rink downtown, open through January 17. The covered rink, lit with Christmas lights, has timed entry to stagger skaters; proof of vaccination is not required but masks are. The location, in Ithsmus Park at the north end of Capitol Lake, makes for an easy walk through the Downtown for the Holidays activities, including free hot chocolate at one coffee shop and the snow show outside the Washington Center for the Performing Arts.
Located on the Olympic Peninsula between Port Townsend and Sequim, the small town of Blyn is home to the Jamestown S'Klallam tribe and its holiday tradition. Using more than three million LED lights, the tribe illuminates the whole waterfront town, including the 7 Cedars Hotel and Casino. The area includes several carved Native sculptures, including more than 35 totem poles.
It's like the Washington State Fair, but Christmas-y. The fairgrounds turn into a holiday-themed extravaganza for most of December, combining ice skating, fire pits, and a Santa train for the kids. A gift market offers the chance to fit in your Christmas shopping while you're at it, and the manger scene includes real animals. If you need to cram your entire holiday season into one day, this is the place to do it.