From the town’s Pacific Northwest tree octopus to a pleasant walk through a festively decorated forest and the electric tunes of a violin,there are plenty of reasons locals and guests love Anacortes during the holiday season.
Many events in this coastal community are free and family friendly. Plus, being an easy day trip from Seattle and Vancouver, Canada, Fidalgo Island makes for a great day trip from the big city. For a long holiday weekend choose to stay at one of the many Anacortes hotels and celebrate the joys of the season with friends and family.
Tis the Season to Light the Crab Pot Tree
This crab pot Christmas tree is an adornment that sets our island community apart! Located in historic downtown, this unique tribute to the town’s fishing heritage is decorated with ornaments from the Anacortes High School and topped with a bright orange octopus. On the first Friday of December, the tree is lit during the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.
The night’s festivities include greetings by the Town Crier and the Mayor, songs and performances by children in the Anacortes School District, and Santa who arrives to light the tree and mark the beginning of the holiday season. Afterward, snap a photo or two with the jolly old elf, or stroll through downtown for dining, shopping, and the Holiday Art Walk.
Date: December 7, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Dashing Through Town on a Horse-Drawn Trolley
There is something about the chime of jingle bells and the rhythmic sound of horse hoofs that conjures up snowy images Christmastime. On Saturdays leading up to Christmas Day, visitors can hop aboard a horse-drawn trolley every afternoon for a ride through historic downtown. Rides are free and fun for the entire family.
While exploring Anacortes, window shop or look for that perfect holiday gift. If you stop by a store participating in Keep the Cheer Here, ask for a punch card. Once the punch card is full, enter it to win a weekly prize and the grand prize. New this year is Double Punch Sunday where you get two punches for every $10 spent.
Date: December 1, 8, 15, 22, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Making Spirits Bright at Celebrate the Season
Celebrate the Season brings Santa’s Village to life the second weekend at the free Family Holiday Fair. This two-day event transforms the Port Event Center into a winter play land with free cocoa and cookies from Mrs. Claus’s kitchen, courtesy of Chandler’s Square, songs and performances by Anacortes School District and Fidalgo Dance Works, games and crafts, photos with Santa and the Grinch, who you’ll find in Whoville,thanks to the Fidalgo Island Rotary Club.
On Saturday, students sell handcrafted wares, such as slime, origami, and candlesticks made of driftwood at the Student Marketplace.On Sunday, the gingerbread competition starts at 1 p.m. It’s super fun to watch, and for little ones, there are miniature gingerbread houses to decorate and take home.
Date: December 8 and 9, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Dreaming of a Winter Wonderland Walk
Tucked in the woods at Washington Park, is the enchanting annual Winter Wonderland Walk. The stroll leads visitors through campsites adorned with bedecked trees, holiday lights, blowup figurines, and Burl Ives’s collection of painted cutouts of Rudolph and friends. This popular two-night event will have you singing along to holiday songs, jamming to live music, being awed by fire jugglers, and telling the big man – Santa ‒ your holiday wish. There are stations to make s’mores over an open campfire and crafts such as rock painting and ornaments. Be sure to pick up a cup of complimentary hot cocoa and a bag of freshly made reindeer poop donuts.
Date: December 7 and 8, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Have a Holly Jolly Irish Christmas
Every year, at the Celtic Christmas Celebration, Geoffrey Castle and his All Star Band dazzle the crowd with their music and Castle’s electric violin. This beloved tradition is a mix of holiday jingles, Irish melodies and a few songs of their own. The night includes performances from the Seattle Irish Dance Company and guest artists like singers from the Seattle Opera. Admission is free with a donation of a new unwrapped toy or food item. Arrive early to get a seat near the front!
Date: December 12, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 p.m.
This is only a sampling of holiday happenings in Anacortes. Others include the Jingle Bell Dash, Bowman Bay Holiday, and the Anacortes Lion’s Club Christmas Parade. Click here to see the full list of events during the Anacortes Coastal Christmas.