Fun and free holiday events for the family

Get out and enjoy the spirit of the holidays

By Missy Bouchat on November 21, 2018

It's a fine balance this time of year enjoying time with your family while also being mindful of your budget. Between gifts, traveling, and entertaining the spending can quickly get out of hand, but it doesn't have to. There is plenty of holiday fun for the whole family around the South Sound all season long that won't cost you a dime.

This year marks the 73rd Annual Holiday Tree Lighting in downtown Tacoma, a community tradition since World War II. Enjoy carols, photos with Santa, and a tree lighting Saturday, Nov. 24, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Gather your loved ones together at the corner of 9th and Broadway and make this part of your holiday tradition.

Sunday, Nov. 25 head to Olympia for Downtown for the Holidays. Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., say hi to Mrs. Claus and slip Santa your wish list at Hotel Olympia. At 10:30 a.m., watch Apple Tree Production's children's theater perform How the Grinch Stole Christmas, with additional showing at noon and 1:30 p.m. at Illuminate Church. Between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., explore the Gingerbread Village at the Washington Center for Performing Arts, an incredible display of gingerbread houses designed by local bakers and artists. At noon, help celebrate the grand opening of Oly on Ice with ice skating, presentations and live music. Be sure to get a great spot by the Governors Hotel for the Jingle Bell Parade kicking off at 3 p.m. and ending with the Tree Lighting at Sylvester Park. Come on down and experience some holiday magic.

The Tacoma Festival of the Nativity begins Friday, Nov. 30, from 2-9 p.m., continues Saturday, Dec. 1, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Dec. 2 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Enjoy a live nativity scene, nativity displays from around the world, family nativity pictures, and Handel's Messiah sing-a-long Saturday night at 7 p.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Tacoma.

Friday, Nov. 30, and Saturday, Dec. 1, Mary Bridge Children's Festival of Trees will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission is free when you donate a non-perishable food item, to benefit families staying at Tree House while their children receive care at Mary Bridge. Stroll through the beautiful display of Christmas trees and enjoy the entertainment, games and photos with Santa at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center.

Check out the Lighted Santa Parade Saturday, Dec. 1, in downtown Puyallup, kicking off at 5 p.m. and ending with the annual tree lighting at Pioneer Park. Wave to Santa as he makes his way down Main Street in a fire engine. If you are in the mood to shop, the Holiday Market will also be open from noon-7 p.m. inside the Pioneer Park Pavillion.

Joint Base Lewis McChord's MWR invites you to a community holiday celebration Dec. 8 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at American Lake Conference Center. Spend the day enjoying games, make and take crafts, cookie decorating, prizes, entertainment, and bring your camera to take pictures with Santa and his elves. Trees for Troops will also be on site giving away free Christmas trees to all active-duty up to E5 and their families starting at 10 a.m. Food and drink will also be available for purchase.

From noon to 4 p.m., Dec. 8, engage in Victorian Revelry at the Dickens Festival at Stadium in Tacoma. The day will consist of a poinsettia exhibit, horse-drawn carriage rides, musical performances, Santa, roasted chestnuts, and a Victorian Dog Costume Contest. End the festivities at The First Presbyterian Church with A Celebration of Carols, a Christmas concert and sing-a-long at 4:15 p.m.