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Seattle Offers Breathtaking Holiday Fun and a New Year’s Party to Remember

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Seattle’s best attractions are whipping up some serious holiday fun this next week, but visitors will want to act fast or they’ll miss out on some of the season’s juiciest events.

Every resident and out-of-towner must ride up the Space Needle, especially at this time of year. Seattle CityPASS holders can go up twice in 24 hours to capture the daytime sights and nighttime twinkling lights while whooshing skyward 520 feet to the observation deck. Visitors can chill on the Space Needle’s observation deck with the coolest, hippest Claus in town on December 21-24 from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Photos can be taken with St. Nick sitting in his spaceship and wearing his flashy Santa suit. There’s also a station where kids can decorate a holiday cookie.

SkyCity, the Space Needle’s restaurant, is putting on a Christmas dinner between 1-8 p.m. for folks who want to do something different and fun and enjoy some scrumptious Pacific Northwest cuisine. For reservations, call (206) 905-2100 or (800) 937-9582 or email reservations@spaceneedle.com.

One would think that Santa’s week would be too busy to make any pre-Christmas appearances, but this Saturday and Sunday, December 21-22, the Seattle Aquarium is featuring Diving Santa, swimming about in the Window on Washington Waters exhibit between noon and 3 p.m. Visitors will have a chance to meet him, enjoy holiday music and sip a special seasonal beverage at the Aquarium Café. Special performances this weekend include the Northwest Girlchoir on December 21 and a violin and cello duo from the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra on December 22.

Since 1949, the Argosy Cruises Christmas Ship festival has been one of Seattle’s more memorable and enduring holiday traditions. The festival offers cruises on either an Argosy Christmas Ship or Parade Boat. The Christmas Ship not only hosts Santa, but also has a choir that performs a 20-minute concert for the tailgating Parade Boat and people onshore. The Parade Boat, also with a Santa aboard, promises fun contests with prizes given throughout the evening. Kids will enjoy a free craft bag, too. Snacks, hot chowder and beverages are available for purchase, or boxed meals can be ordered in advance.

Another option is the Royal Argosy dinner cruise, which follows the Christmas Ship, and features a three-course dinner, including a freshly prepared Northwest buffet. The dinner cruise even has a band playing on board. For availability, prices, meal descriptions and reservations, go to the Argosy website.

EMP Museum is nothing if not quirky. For the holidays, it’s offering free back-to-back screenings of one of the worst films ever made, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Resurrected by Mystery Science Theater 3000 in the 1990s, this mind-bogglingly bad film is about Martians who try to kidnap Santa Claus and make him live on their joyless planet. Screenings are at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Perhaps one’s time is better spent reveling in the museum’s amazing collection of music artifacts — especially the special exhibits about the Icons of Science Fiction, the Worlds of Myth and Magic, Nirvana and, as always, Jimi Hendrix. With your Seattle CityPASS in hand, you’ll scoot right in.

WildLights at the Woodland Park Zoo was so successful last year, the zoo decided to bring it back. Between now and January 4 from 5:30-8:30 p.m., visitors can enjoy more than a half-million lights shaped into animal forms. Zoo-goers can also get up close to real reindeer or even have a faux snowball fight with friends. Although most of the animals are snoozing, the reptiles and amphibians will be up for some visitors, as will the meerkats, nocturnal sloths and Indian flying foxes. This weekend in the Raptor Barn, the keeper will host a talk on birds of prey. Tickets are $9.50 for adults, $6.50 for kids. The zoo will be closed December 24-25.

What better way to say farewell to 2013 than to party hearty at the Pacific Science Center? Partying down at a science museum may seem strange on the surface, but PSC promises a good time at its inaugural New Year’s Eve Party: Spectra 2014.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Outdoor metal/fire sculptures with the Iron Monkeys
  • Aerialist performances by Suspended Animation
  • Four interactive dance spaces with cash bars
  • Planetarium shows, rotating Laser Shows, and access to the Tropical Butterfly House and Puget Sound Salt Water Tide Pool
  • DJs hand-selected by KEXP, including DJ Riz, Darek, Mazzone,
DJ Sharlese, DJ El Toro and DJ Alex

There will be a champagne toast at midnight along with the closest, private, outdoor view of Seattle’s annual fireworks show. You won’t want to be left out of this party. Prices begin at $100 for general admission and $150 for VIP treatment.

This article first appeared in CityPASS' City Traveler Blog.

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