Holiday season is upon us and there is so much to do. We don’t mean gift shopping and wrapping presents—we mean fun, fun, fun. From light displays to donating your time to charity to ice skating, you are sure to find plenty of ways to spend your time other than at home indoors.

In the list below you are sure to find something for everyone—and maybe a new holiday family tradition as well.

Christmas Lights Displays

A local favorite, Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is a must-see for light display lovers. It features 700,000 lights; 3D animal light displays; a 100-foot octopus, and walruses, polar bears, and penguins. Plus, there are camel rides, a vintage carousel, and the opportunity to feed goats and meet meerkats. Get more information on the zoo’s website or by calling 253-404-3800.

5400 North Pearl Street, Tacoma

Fantasy Lights
Enjoy beautiful Christmas lights without having to face the weather. Photo courtesy: Pierce County Parks and Recreation.

Another illuminating holiday event is Fantasy Lights in Spanaway, now in its 24th year. November 22 through January 1, Spanaway will be a true winter wonderland. Stare in amazement as you drive through two miles of about 300 light displays and thousands of sparkling lights. The beautiful two-mile lakeside drive along Spanaway Lake has become a memorable lakeside tradition for the entire family. Watch Santa and Rudolph sail a tall ship, penguins sliding down an igloo, reindeer leaping over your car, a rocket ship, octopus, sea turtles and a giant clam. As you drive, dial your car radio to FM 95.3 to listen to a selection of special holiday music to add to the festive atmosphere of the park. Admission varies according to type of vehicle, number of passengers, and special discount nights. Visit the park’s website or call 253-756-1804 for more details.

14905 Bresemann Blvd S, Spanaway

Join fellow Tacoma residents at the 73rd Annual Tacoma Holiday Tree Lighting, taking place on November 24 between 4:30 am and 6:30 p.m. South Sound residents have gathered at the corner of Broadway and 9 Street for this free event since World War II. Enjoy live Christmas carols while your little ones sit on Santa’s lap for a photo your family can treasure for generations.

Holiday Shows

The Tacoma Ballet performs “The Nutcracker Suite” at the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, December 8, at 2:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 9, at 2:00 p.m. This “sample” of the “Nutcracker” is one hour long—just enough time to keep your little sugarplum fairies engaged, but not so long that they’ll get cranky. This performance by the Tacoma Ballet makes a wonderful introduction to live theater for children. Call 253-272-4219 or visit the company’s website for more information.

508 6th Avenue, Tacoma

Puget Sound Revels
Puget Sound Revels will sing and dance in the Welsh tradition. Photo courtesy: Puget Sound Revels.

If you’re in the mood for something different, you probably want to check out “The Christmas Revels,” a combination of music, dance, and drama. Expect fairies, brownies, goblins and the like as the performance area is transformed into a rural English village. The Revels Adult and Children’s Choruses will be performing, as will the Seattle Brass Ensemble. The Revels troupe will perform singing, dancing and storytelling. The Christmas Revels” is sure to make a perfect holiday event for families. The show runs December 15 through 19 at various showtimes. Check the website for more information.

310 S 9 Street, Tacoma

Orchestra aficionados should get a kick out of the “Let it Snow: Holiday Celebration” at the Pantages Theater on December 15 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Conductor Gerard Morris will lead the Tacoma Concert Band to perform music from all over the world, including holiday standards and a sing-a-long. Tickets range between $18 and $36.

901 Broadway, Tacoma


Snowshoe Evergreen Choose and Cut offers the opportunity for you to choose and cut your own tree. This year marks the family-owned business’ 36th annual tree harvest. Choose among five varieties from 55 acres of gorgeous green trees. Call 253-848-3492 or visit Snowshoe’s website for more information.

10720 State Route 162 East, Puyallup

For those of you crafty creatures, Snowshoe also offers a wreath making class on November 20 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Choose from three designs: traditional, classic poinsettia or 12th Woman Seahawks. Attendees can also bring cherished or precious items to add to their wreaths. Nosh on appetizers and sip non-alcoholic beverages served gratis. Call 253-848-3492 or visit Snowshoe’s website for more information.

10720 State Route 162 East, Puyallup

Ice Skating
Lace up and shred ice during the holidays. Photo credit: Kit Foxx

Pierce County residents look forward to the Frozen Fountain Ice Skating Rink all year long and considering the fun, active—and for some nostalgic—experience, it’s no surprise why. This year’s rink promises to be better than ever in its new location on the waterfront at Point Ruston. From November 14 through February 2, 2019, the Frozen Fountain Ice Skating Rink will also be in operation for a month longer than last year’s. Tickets are only available at the skating rink, but if you have any questions, email

5005 Ruston Way, Tacoma

In case you weren’t able to make it to the Tacoma Holiday Tree Lighting for some photos with St. Nick—or in case your kids are furry and walk on four legs—Tacoma Mall is the place to immortalize a holiday memory via its Santa Photo Experience. Through December 24, the mall is offering Santa for photos with your loved ones—be they of the bipedal or quadrupedal variety. December 2 is the date to mark on your calendar for your furry friends—Santa will listen to them bark and meow their Christmas wish list from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tacoma Mall ensures photos with Santa are accessible for children with sensory, physical and other developmental needs. Call 253-475-4566 for necessary adjustments.

4502 S Steele Street, Tacoma

Holiday Markets

Experience the holiday version of the Downtown Tacoma Market at the historic courthouse square on December 9 from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Peruse unique items from 40 local artisans and merchants. En Rama and the Outpost Kitchen will be serving brunch in the form of coffee, pastries, cocktails and more. Enjoy live music from Josiah French and tunes by DJ Semaj. And yes, Santa will be making an appearance as well. Admission costs $1. Visit the market’s event page for more information.

1102 A Street, Tacoma

This one-day-only holiday market is located inside the Pioneer Park Pavilion in downtown Puyallup and runs from noon until 7:00 p.m. Browse through the aisles of vendors, do some holiday shopping and munch on yummy treats from local tastemakers. Make sure to hang around until 5:00 p.m. for the Hometown Santa Parade, followed by the lighting of the Community Tree. Contact market manager Patty Villa at 253-840-2631 or email with any questions.

330 S Meridian, Puyallup

Where to Volunteer

If you’re fortunate enough to enjoy food, family and festivities this year, why not lend a hand to those who can’t? Volunteer one day during Christmas week to serve hot meals to the city’s less fortunate at the Tacoma Rescue Mission. Volunteers are asked to make a one-time only donation of $10—at $1.87 a meal, that $10 goes a long way. Fill out the one-time-only volunteer form on the organization’s website or call 253-383-4493 for more information.

425 S Tacoma Way, Tacoma

Want to trip the lights fantastic while helping out children in need? Get gussied up for the Mary Bridge’s Festival of Trees event, Tinsel on the Town, which features dinner, a silent auction and dancing. If you’re feeling a tad fancy this holiday season, attend the festival’s gala, a black tie event featuring dinner, a silent auction and live entertainment. Both events benefit the medical needs of children, including neonatal intensive care patients. If you plan to attend both events, you need to create two separate accounts on the website. Contact Stephanie Hall at 253-403-4892 with any questions.