Tacoma and surrounding Pierce County is a festive place to be once the holiday season hits.

Filled with Christmas lights displays, craft fairs, special events and more, there’s no shortage of things to do and places to be in late November through early January.

Point Ruston Skating Rink

Point Ruston Ice Skating Rink
Point Ruston’s ice skating rink is going up for its first season in 2017. Photo courtesy: Point Ruston

In 2017, a new skating rink debuts in T-Town – the Frozen Fountain Ice Skating Rink at Point Ruston will be the prime spot to don your skates while downtown’s Polar Plaza will not operate this year. The fountain where children play all summer long will convert into an ice skating rink decked out in holiday decor and lights. Plenty of nearby restaurants and a movie theater offer spots to warm up before or after your skate, and this is the only spot in all of Western Washington where you can ice skate with a water view. The rink is open from November 10 until January 1.

Flame tree Zoolights
The Flame Tree is always one of the most popular displays at Zoolights. Photo courtesy: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Holiday Lights Displays

If you live in or near Pierce County, you have not one but two great holiday lights displays to enjoy. Go see one, go see both, but either is a treat if you enjoy festive fun. Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium takes place November 24 to January 1, each night from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m., and features walk-through displays that you can take at your own pace. Fantasy Lights takes place at Spanaway Lake Park from November 23 until January 1 from 5:30 – 9:00 p.m. each night, and features a drive-through experience with more than 300 lighted displays to admire along the way.

Victorian Country Christmas Festival

Victorian Country Christmas Festival
The Victorian Country Christmas Festival at the Washington State Fairgrounds is great for holiday shopping or simply getting into the holiday spirit. Photo courtesy: Victorian Country Christmas Festival

There are all kinds of bazaars and craft fairs that take place throughout the holiday season, but if you only go to one, the Victorian Country Christmas Festival is a great one to choose. Taking place at the Washington State Fair Events Center, this event is part craft fair, part holiday entertainment with shows on stage to enjoy, part food festival and all fun. It’s perfect for a girls’ day out, a way to keep the kids busy for an afternoon or a unique place to do your holiday shopping. The festival takes place from November 29 to December 3.

The Singing Christmas Tree

If you’re up for a unique and family-friendly Christmas concert, the Singing Christmas Tree is a long-standing Tacoma tradition held at the Life Center. Since 1963, this Christmas concert has celebrated the season with song, dance, lights (nearly 100,000 lights in total), a full orchestra and a choir situated to look like a giant Christmas tree. With more than 175 performers in total, this is one of the biggest productions in town. The performance goes on stage on select dates between December 9 and 23.

Holiday Shows

Just about all of Tacoma’s theaters and playhouses put on holiday and Christmas shows throughout November and December.

November 25: Cirque-Tacular’s Snowkus Pocus at the Pantages Theatre followed by the annual lighting of the Tacoma Christmas tree. The show starts at 3:00 p.m. and tickets are $19-$49. The tree lights up at 5:00 p.m. and the event is free.

November 30: A Charlie Brown Christmas Live at the Pantages. The show starts at 7:30 p.m.

December 1-24: Seussical the Musical goes on stage at Tacoma Little Theater for this year’s holiday show.

December 9: Seattle Men’s Chorus: A Sassy Brassy Holiday takes place twice at the Pantages, once at 3:00 p.m. and once at 7:30 p.m.

December 14: Messiah features Symphony Tacoma at Chapel Hill in Gig Harbor at 7:30 p.m.

December 15: Messiah runs again at St. Charles Boromeo at 7:30 p.m.

December 15-23: The Nutcracker and the Tale of the Hard Nut offers a different experience from Seattle’s The Nutcracker with a little more to the story included in this version. Usually these performances by Tacoma City Ballet take place at the Pantages, but this year they will be at the Federal Way Performing Arts & Events Center.

December 16-20: The Christmas Revels are a Tacoma tradition, put on each year at the Rialto Theater.

Lantern Light Festival

Lantern Light Festival
Prepare to be dazzled by lanterns of all shapes and sizes at the Lantern Light Festival. Photo courtesy: Pinnacle Production Group

From November 24 until January 7, the Washington State Fair Events Center will host a unique event – the Lantern Light Festival. But don’t expect simple, tiny lanterns. The lanterns are handcrafted by Chinese artisans and some are more than 30 feet high and 300 feet long. Along with wandering among the lighted lanterns, attendees can also enjoy Chinese food, face painting, acrobat performances and fireworks on some nights, as well as other family fun.

Argosy Christmas Ship Festival

Argosy is based in Seattle, but every year its Christmas Ship Festival comes down to Tacoma for a night or two. In 2017, the Christmas Ship will visit Tacoma’s Dock Street on December 10 and 11. Customize the experience to your liking (and budget) by either going to see the ship while it’s docked; paying to board the boat where you can listen to a choir on board, buy snacks and drinks for purchase, and a ride over to Gig Harbor; or wait on shore in Gig Harbor for the ship to arrive and the choir to perform (the choir’s performance is broadcast to those on shore as well).

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