Ever since the 19th Century, December in the lower Puget Sound region traditionally has been an extra-special time. There’s a raft of gala holiday celebrations that are scheduled, beginning the day after Turkey Day.
Begin the holiday season by heading to Pt. Defiance for the 2015 edition of Zoolights.
Bundle up and stroll the Zoo with its half million lights that aglow between 5-9 p.m. from Nov. 27 – Jan. 3. (Closed Dec. 24, open on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1). Experience a magical world of dazzling 3-D animal light displays, including a majestic polar bear family, a giant Pacific octopus, and a 17-foot-tall tiger head.
Warm up inside the steamy South Pacific Aquarium, ride a carved Cougar on the Carousel or even climb aboard a live camel. Wrap up holiday shopping with unique gift ideas.
Admission prices start at $10 (or $16 for an adult combo pass, $15 for seniors, and $14 for youths 5-12).
Just up the road from the Zoo is a replica of the Hudson Bay Company’s outpost—billed as the original shopping post in the northwest—Ft. Nisqually. Located at the top of Five Mile Drive, this former British Hudson’s Bay Company holiday activity gets underway between 11-4 on Sat., Dec. 5.
The arrival of the Yule log, towed in at 1 p.m., is a highlight of the day. Everyone can join in with toasts and seasonal songs. Guests can also take home a piece of the log for their own holiday fire. Take time to join in parlor games, make ornaments, and create pomanders. Father Christmas will be available for visits and photos.
Admission is $5-$8, and Free for children 4 and younger. For more information phone (253) 591-5339 or visit www.FortNisqually.org
After the Brits left the area, American soldiers and their families at Ft. Steilacoom welcomed visitors from the first incorporated town in the State—Steilacoom—during the holidays. Reenactors will present a period candlelight tour in the four remaining officers’ quarters. The gift shop also will be open. Tickets are available at the fort’s Interpretive Center in Qtrs. 4 during the event, 4 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12. Adults $5, children $3, family $10. 9601 Steilacoom Blvd., S. W., Lakewood or www.historicftsteilacoom.org
Tacoma’s renowned Crystal Palace, a gift of W.W. Seymour to the city in 1908, is a large, shimmering glass conservatory that features a poinsettia display during December. 316 South G St. in Wright Park (253) 591-5330. Visit Metro Parks website t www.metroparkstacoma.org to see what else is happening there during last month of the year.
Pioneer settler Ezra Meeker, Puyallup’s first mayor, and his wife, Eliza, built their 17-room Mansion (after the Meekers visited England, Mrs. M. wanted a house like she’d seen in that country—Ezra agreed, but Eliza paid for it) that’s open throughout the year for tours. In December the mansion hosts A Christmas Tea at 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 13 and a Santa Breakfast at 10 a.m. on Dec. 19, Both events are $12, plus house admission prices from $3-$5. Note: The Mansion may charge additional fees or not accept coupons during special events. (Normal hours from Mar. 1 to Dec. 20) Wed.-Sun., Noon – 4 p. m. Self-guided tours are available, with the Final tour at 3 p.m. Please give 48 hours notice to arrange for a guided tour, request a wheelchair lift, or have a large tour group. Open by appointment Jan. and Feb., plus Mon. and Tues. Located at 312 Spring St., Puyallup. Phone 848-1770 to schedule a tea, tour, or event.
Of course there’s still more, such as the drive-thru light display at Spanaway Park, as well as the Tree Lighting events in Steilacoom and the City of Lakewood’s event both on Dec. 4.
For those who are still little kids at heart, don’t miss Washington State History Museum’s 20th annual Model Railroad Display. It’s at 1911 Pacific Avenue (Phone 1-866-238-4373) from Dec. 21-Jan 1.
This event features model train displays designed and assembled by WA State model train enthusiasts. Displays occupy every floor of the museum and include the State’s largest permanent model train layout. Santa Claus will be there between 11-3 on Dec. 21-23. His visit is included with Museum Admission. Please note that the museum is closed on Dec. 24, 25.