Whether it’s the first time or 14th, these local holiday traditions always deliver

 The Christkindlmarket Chicago Photo taken by Jim Prichard

The Christkindlmarket Chicago Photo taken by Jim Prichard

Traditions serve many purposes to many different people.

Case in point - Americans are smack-dab in the middle of celebrating the holiday season. This, as stated above, means many different things to different people. Things like: Christmas trees should only be cut from their natural habitat in a wild forest. Rainbow lights shouldn’t go on white houses. Fruitcakes are overrated and should never be seen again!

We all have our issues, I mean, opinions on these arguments.

But one thing we can usually agree on is that our local hometown traditions during the holiday season are great, whether in a small town or a big city.

Let’s explore some of the fun things going on in a few of our favorite.

SEATTLE

Gingerbread Houses

Usually housed in the downtown Sheraton, this year’s collection has been moved across the street to City Centre for bit more viewing space. The theme for 2017 is 25 Years of Cheer: A Celebration of Seattle, and features massive homages to Seattle old and new.

WildLights at Woodland Park Zoo

So much more than just Christmas lights, Wildlights at Woodland Park Zoo will also feature a few open exhibits, snowball throwing pit, and beer and wine garden for Santa’s oldest elves. Did someone say Santa? Yeah, he’ll be there too.

Candy Cane Lane in Ravenna

Doing some last minute shopping at University Village (or just sneaking some Din Tai Fung)?

When you’re all done, swing north through Ravenna and Candy Cane Lane. For over half a century this row of 23 houses has been making locals smile. A must do for anyone claiming to be a true Seattleite.

PORTLAND

Festival of Lights at The Grotto

The Festival of Lights at the Grotto is a spectacular event that features 150 indoor music concerts as well as dramatic living history enactments and nightly puppeteer show.

The Lights on Peacock Lane

Residents of Peacock Lane have been going full neon with their Tudor style homes for the holidays since the 1920's. Their legendary light display will be happening December 15th until the 31st from 6 - 11 PM. Free hot cocoa and cider from the handmade booth in the center of Peacock Lane will be served, and donations will be accepted.

Winter Wonderland at the Portland International Speedway

Want to stay warm in your car while still taking in some of the best Christmas lights around. Then this is the event for you. Also, probably the only time you’ll get to drive your car on a race track.

SAN FRANCISCO

Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square

Strap on the skates, hold onto the person next to you, and knock out some laps. Cocoa and everything else Union Square is at your disposal, so go hog-wild.

San Francisco’s Fire Engine Tours

Let me get this straight - you get to tour some of San Francisco’s most decorative neighborhoods while in a fire engine while wearing fire gear? Where’s the signup sheet?

Lighting of the Menorah at Ghirardelli Square

Plenty of classic holiday favorite activities surround this Jewish-inspired event at world famous Ghirardelli Square.

SAN DIEGO

Visit the Quaint Town of Julian

Take a break from San Diego and drive to the mountain town of Julian for a warm mug of hot apple cider and a delicious piece of Julian's legendary homemade apple pie. Saturdays will even feature carolers and a living nativity scene.

Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade

What’s that you say? Speak up a little? This is America’s largest balloon parade?! See you there December 28th!

Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Haven’t been to Whoville recently? This is your chance. The Old Globe is putting on the classic Dr. Seuss story about our green friend who eventually comes around to the holiday spirit after much consternation.

CHICAGO

Christkindl Market

You may remember this one from a few blogs back, but it’s so good (and close to our property, The Alise Chicago) that we had to mention it one more time. Basically, take a small town market from Germany in the 16th century, put it in a time machine, and drop it in Chicago. Great food, drink, and handmade crafts will lift your spirits while you lift a stein of goodness.

Music Box Christmas Show

The Music Box returns with showings of White Christmas and It's a Wonderful Life throughout December. You can choose to see one film, or stay for the double feature. Singing Christmas carols with your fellow patrons during the intermission is encouraged. Rumor has it Santa might even show up!

Morton Arboretum Lights

Take 50 acres of vibrant LED lights and what do you get? A kaleidoscopic winter wonderland. The one-mile colorful illuminated path with integrated video and interactive elements sounds like a mix between a Halloween maze and holiday cheer - and we like it.

We hope you enjoy some of these offerings. Should you spending time with loved ones at these events, it might be a good time to hash out some of those classic family disagreements.

Not the fruitcake though. Never bring that up again.

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