Here is this week’s list of family-friendly free or frugal events for around the Northwest, as well as some events going on around the country. Don’t forget to check out Goldstar for Discount Tickets on many local activities and events, if you are looking for a specific event and want to save some money!
Be sure to check out Thrifty NW Mom’s Big List of Christmas Festivals, Bazaars and Tree Farms too, for frugal fall fun ideas, or our round up of FREE Santa Photos in the Puget Sound.
If you see a fun, frugal event that’s not listed, feel free to leave a comment so we can add that event to our list.
PUGET SOUND AREA::
Friday November 30th:
*Gingerbread Village Open – Seattle; through Jan. 1, 2012; This is a free annual Christmas favorite exhibit held in the lobby of the Sheraton. Seattle architectural firms, trade associations and Sheraton Seattle culinary staff team up to design, bake and build fantastic gingerbread creations. 24 hours daily. FREE, donations accepted for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
*Christmas In The Country– Bainbridge Island; 11/30-12/2; See website for times. Arts and crafts in classic homes and farms on Bainbridge Island. Includes food, Santa photos, live music and free pony rides.
*Ivars Clam Lights – Seattle; through Jan. 1; 6:30pm to 9:00pm; 11/30 is the kick off event, where you can ride in Santas covered wagon, watch the parade of boats and more. Winkle, twinkle little clam…Ivar’s hosts the 19th annual Clam Lights lighting ceremony at Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park! As one of the largest lighted public displays on the Eastside, park greenery, holiday scenes and, of course, Ivar’s famous Dancing Clams, will be covered in thousands of twinkling lights to kick-off the holiday season.
*Vashon Islands Winterfest – Vashon Island; 11/30 -12/2; Santa Parade and Tree Lighting, Gingerbread house contest and more. Some events occur on different days, so be sure see website for schedule of events.
*Story Time With Mrs. Claus – Northgate; 11/30; 10:30am to 11:30am; Story Time with Mrs. Claus at Northgate Mall’s Santa Set. Come listen to the lovable Mrs. Claus read holiday favorites that delight and amaze the little ones. She’ll also hand out her freshly baked sugar cookies and sing holiday carols at our lovely Sherman Clay Grand Piano.
*Fantasy Lights – Spanaway; Ongoing; Drive through 2.5 miles of animated displays at Spanaway Park. 5:30 to 9 p.m. thru through Jan. 1. $13 per car or van.
*Free Entrance to Seattle Symphony’s “Soundbridge”– Seattle, Beneroya Hall; 11/16; 12:00pm to 4:00pm; Soundbridge is a music discovery center and is free each Friday after 12 pm; Ages 2-5, 30 minute interactive storytelling with song & rhythm, dance & musical instruments.
Saturday December 1st:
*Reindeer Festival – Seattle; 9:00am to 6:00pm; From November 10th until Christmas Eve, Swansons will feature Santa’s Live Reindeer every day! Dasher and Blitzen will be here every day for your viewing pleasure until Christmas. Join them for feeding times for more activity. Bring the family for a magical moment they’ll remember forever! Music, holiday train display, refreshments and face painting are all part of the festivities. Reindeer Photo Opportunities (bring your camera).
*Santa Parade & Tree Lighting in downtown Puyallup – Puyallup, 12/1; starts at 5pm with the parade & then afterwards will be the Tree lighting & ice skating at Pioneer Park
*Winterfest – Burien; 12/1; 10:00am to 4:00pm; Horse and carriage rides, hayrides, treats, santa photos and more.
*Hometown Holidays – Arlington; 12/1; Santa parade (noon, Olympic Avenue), wagon rides (12:30 to 4:30 p.m. City Hall), Santa visits (12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Legion Park), tree lighting (4 p.m. Legion Park) and more.
*Free Family Days At Seattle Asian Art Museum – Seattle; 12/1; 11:00am to 2:00pm; Admission to the Seattle Asian Art Museum is free on the first Saturday of each month for families.
*Story time at Cabelas – Lacey; 12/1; Outdoors stories for kids 4-9 and parents of grandparents In the walled tent area; first Saturday of every month. Thanks Sounds Fun Mom!
*Stanwoods Old Fashioned Christmas – Stanwood; 12/1; 10am to 2pm; FREE pictures with Santa, gift bags, crafts, treats, museum tours and entertainment.
*Santa Arrives At Country Village – Bothel; 12/1; 12pm to 8pm; Holiday light displays, entertainment, roasted chestnuts (4 p.m.), kids’ train rides, pony rides (noon to 4 p.m.) and Santa’s arrival by sleigh from the sky (7 p.m.) followed by a tree lighting. FREE, nominal fee for some activities.
*Christmas At The Old Cannery – Sumner; 11:00am to 4:00pm; Enjoy FREE Santa pictures, free carriage rides. They do accept cash donations for local food bank. Santa available on the weekends.
*Free Ski Helmet & Fitting – Seattle Childrens Hospital, N. Seattle – 12/1; 10:30 am to 12:30pm; Free ski/snowboard helmet fitting and giveaway for children ages 4 to 18. Wearers must be present and fitted to receive a helmet. Supplies are limited. Presented by Kohl’s Helmet Safety Program at Seattle Children’s.
*Bellevue Art Museums Get Crafty Saturday – Bellevue; 11/17; 1:00pm to 3:00pm; Free craft time for kids each Saturday. $2 material fee or free with admission.
Monday December 3rd:
*Garden d’Lights Free Admission – Bellevue; Bellevue; 5:00 to 10:00pm through Dec.31st. Bellevue Botanical Garden creates a winter garden with hundreds of thousands of mini-lights in three-dimensional plant and critter shapes. Cost is $5 but FREE nights are 12/3-6.
Wednesday December 5th:
*Students Get Free Admission To The Bellevue Art Museum – Bellevue; 12/5; 1:00pm to 5:00pm; Students of all ages can explore the Bellevue Arts Museum after school FREE with printable coupon.
Thursday December 6th:
(Always make sure to call the museum ahead of time to confirm that they are still participating in these discount days/events/activities)
*Free Admission To Seattle Art Museum– Seattle; 12/6; 10:00am to 9:00pm; First Thursday of the month SAM offers free admission to the museum.
*Free Admission To Seattle Asian Art Museum– Seattle; 12/6 ; 10:00am to 9:00pm; First Thursday of the month SAM offers free admission to the museum.
*Free Admission To The Burke Museum – Seattle; 12/6 ; 10:00am to 8:00pm; First Thursday of the month The Burke offers free admission to the museum.
*Free Admission To The Museum Of History & Industry – Seattle; 12/6 ; 10:00am to 8:00pm; First Thursday of the month MOHAI offers free admission to the museum.
* Free Admission To Wing Luke Museum – Seattle; 12/6 ; 10:00am to 8:00pm; First Thursday of the month Wing Luke offers free admission to the museum.
*Free Admission To Kids Discovery Museum – Bainbridge Island; 12/6 ; 10:00am to 4:00pm; First Thursday of the month Kids Discovery Museum offers free admission.
*Free Admission To The Museum Of Flight – Seattle; 12/6 ; 5:00pm to 9:00pm; First Thursday of the month Museum of Flight offers free admission.
*Free Admission To Henry Art Gallery – Seattle; 12/6 ; 11:00am to 9:00pm; First Thursday of the month Henry Art Gallery offers free admission.
*Free Admission To The Northwest African American Museum – Seattle; 12/6 ; 11:00am to 7:00pm; First Thursday of the month NAAM offers free admission to the museum.
*FREE Nordic Heritage Museum – Seattle; 12/6 ; 10:00am to 4:00pm; Nordic Heritage Museum is FREE first Thursdays.
*Half Priced Admission Imagine Childrens Museum – Everett; 12/6 ; Thursday 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. is half priced ( $3.88)
**Sounds Fun Mom always has a great list of events local to the South Sound area of WA as well, if you are looking for more ideas!
Here’s our list of weekly events for the Portland area.
Friday November 30th:
*West Linn Holiday Tree Lighting Event – West Linn; 11/30; Starts at 6:00pm; Festivities include tree lighting, Chugga Chugga Choo Choo train that will provide rides for children, Little ones can warm up inside with cookie decorating and a movie at City Hall.
*“Princess and the Pea” Performance – Portland; Each weekend through December 23; See website for times. Its a live performance of “Princess and the Pea” at Theater!Theatre! Reserve your free tickets in advance on their website.
*Tigard Tree Lighting Festivities – Tigard; 11/30; 7pm; See Santa and the Mayor light the tree at Liberty Park, Treats and Santa visits will follow.
*Family Movie Night at Café Sip-n-Play – Portland; 11/16; 5:00pm; Free Movie Night. Grab a bite to eat, relax, and unwind while you enjoy a movie with the little atmosphere.
*Music From Mr. Hoo from The Alphabeticians – Portland; 11/16; 11:00am to 12:00pm; Mr. Hoo will be singing songs with and for kids. He’ll play his guitar and sing some original songs, some Alphabeticians songs, some classic kid songs and Hoo knows what else? $3 suggested donation pp.
Saturday December 1st:
*Gresham Tree Lighting and Holiday Events – Gresham; 12/1; 5pm to 6:15pm; Bring your family and enjoy the entertainment, a visit from Santa and a tree-lighting ceremony in the city’s.
*Sherwood Winter Festival – 12/1; Starts at 4:00pm. Festivities include a parade that starts at Post Office Plaza at 4:00 pm, free hot dogs and hot cocoa, entertainment, tree lighting, and more.
*Milwaukie Umbrella Parade and Tree Lighting Event – The parade will start at Waldorf School at 4:00 pm. Decorate an umbrella in the theme of your choice and join us for the Milwaukie Umbrella Parade and Tree Lighting. Santa Claus will join the festivities and treats will be served!
*Christmas Ships Parade Preview – 12/1; 7:00pm, the fleet of boats, each one decorated with holiday lights, will assemble in front of the Port of Camas/Washougal and parade in the area of the docks for about an hour. The fleet will then return to Portland on the Washington side.
* Free Family Swim At Marshall Community Center – Vancouver; 12/1; 4:45pm to 6:30pm; Bauman Chiropractic is sponsoring free family swims at Marshall Pool Saturday evenings.
* Kids Saturday Morning Skate Session At Oaks Park – Portland ; 12/1; 10:30am to 12:00pm; For $6 children 10 and under can skate (skates included). Parents free with paid child admission.
*Free Guided Nature Walk – Portland – 12/1; 10:00am to 11:30am; Enjoy free guided walks with park ranger.
Monday December 3rd:
*Washington County Museum Free Admission – Portland; 12/3; 10:00am to 4:30pm; Admission is free to this museum every Monday.
*Mondays On The Mall – Portland – Downtown Central Transit Mall; 12/3; Various Times; Free events all day including Wii play, caricatures, the original photo booth and entertainment.
Sunday December 2nd:
*$2 Days at OMSI – Portland; 12/2; 9:30am to 7:00pm; Explore the museum for $2 on the first Sunday of each month.
*Free Craft Activities at Lakeshore Learning Stores– Sat. 12/1; 11am to 3pm; Kids can come to this free craft time each week for a new craft (plus print a $5 off $25 coupon).
*Bank Of America Museums On Us Free Entrance – 12/1 & 12/2; Bank Of America card holders can get free entrance to Museums Nationwide. Check website for participating museums in your area.
*Home Depot Kids Workshop – 12/1; 9:00am to 12:00pm; Kids can participate in free building projects the first Sat. of the month. This week they will build a picture frame.
* Bass Pro – National – Now through December 24th Bass Pro is offering free 4×6 studio quality photos with Santa in store.
*Lego Stores Mini Models Build – Tues. 12/4; 5:00pm; Monthly model build event, one free for kids 6-14 while supplies last. 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm
*Barnes and Noble Free Storytime – 12/1; Times and events vary by location. Check your location for specific story’s available this weekend.