Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Seattle

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In a big city such as Seattle, there are many New Year’s Eve events that are expensive and require lots of advanced planning for you and your friends. For many students, this is unrealistic. Today’s blog post will highlight fun, inexpensive, all-ages events that will make you excited for 2018!

Where to watch fireworks (beginning at 12:00 AM, January 1):

  • Seattle Center: You can watch fireworks from the base of the Space Needle and other areas around Seattle Center! This prime location fills up quickly, so make sure to go early (around 10:00 PM) to find a spot. Take public transportation, as the area experiences a lot of traffic and closed streets on this day.
  • Gas Works Park: If you want to watch closer to UW, you can take a quick bus ride to Gas Works Park. The view of the Space Needle is partially obstructed, but it is still an excellent place to view fireworks.
  • Lake Union: Lake Union offers a stunning view of the fireworks, as well as plenty of close restaurants and bars.
  • Kerry Park: Kerry Park is the most infamous parks in Seattle. With a stunning view of Seattle Center, this is a prime location to watch fireworks. However, Kerry Park is relatively small, meaning it will fill up quickly.
  • Alki Beach Park: Alki Beach is a gorgeous location, close to water, and with a distant yet unobstructed view of the Space Needle. Take the King County Water Taxi over earlier in the day and enjoy an incredible view at midnight. Since it is by water, bring a blanket and take a place near one of the beach fires to stay warm.

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New Year’s Eve with Ivar’s: One of Seattle’s most famous restaurants, Ivar’s, has one restaurant on the pier. This means that you can enjoy food and a view until the fireworks begin. This is a wonderful way to enjoy a classic Seattle dish while welcoming the new year.

When: December 31, 9:00 PM

WhereIvar’s Salmon House on Northlake Way

Price: Free + cost of food

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Winterfest New Year’s Eve Celebration: Winterfest happens all winter long at Seattle Center, but there are special events for New Year’s Eve! There is live music, dance, and other fun activities for hours before the fireworks. Then, when it reaches 12:00 AM, you already have a great view of the fireworks.

When: December 31, 8:00 PM (Ring in the New Year at Seattle Center); 10:00 PM            (Dance Party at the Fountain)

Where: Seattle Center – the Armory and Fountain

Price: Free

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Bellevue Square Celebration Lane: Bellevue Square has a holiday-themed parade (named “Snowflake Lane”) leading up to Christmas, but they start “Celebration Lane” the day after. You can watch this New Year’s-themed parade anytime from the 26th to the 31st, and is sure to get you in the spirit for 2018!

When: December 26-31, 7:00 PM

Where: Bellevue Square

Price: Free

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First Night Tacoma: This event features live music, food, and activities for people of all ages. If you want to explore another city and ring in the new year with a large, energetic crowd, check out First Night Tacoma!

When: December 31, start time around 6:00 PM (view schedule online)

Where: Event is centralized around Pantages Theater. Route is within Broadway between S. 7th, and S. 11th

Price: Buy a button online or in-person. Prices vary depending on time of purchase.

Light Shows:

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One of the most enjoyable, inexpensive holiday experiences is a light show in a Seattle zoo or garden. These outdoor spaces are decorated with colorful lights along plants, fences, and pathways. This creates a beautiful, bright scene to stroll through. These light shows occur close to UW (Woodland Park Zoo), in Bellevue (Bellevue Botanical Gardens), or further away in Tacoma (Point Defiance Zoo), so you can check them out wherever you are.

Wildlights (Woodland Park Zoo)

When: November 24 – January 1 (closed December 24 & 25), 5:30-8:30 PM

Where: Woodland Park Zoo

Price: $11.95

Zoolights (Point Defiance Zoo)

When: November 24 – January 1 (closed December 24), 5:00-9:00 PM

Where: Point Defiance Zoo

Price: $10.00 at Front Gate, $8.50 online

Garden d’Lights (Bellevue Botanical Gardens)

When: November 25 – December 31; 4:30-9:00 PM

Where: Bellevue Botanical Gardens

Price: $5.00

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We hope you enjoy your Winter Break, and celebrate New Year’s Eve with family and friends. We wish a joyful 2018 to you, your family, and friends!

Photo credits: Lake Union Seattle, Pinterest, Red Tricycle,  Seattle Bloggers, Bellevue.com, Huffington Post

Snow in Seattle: Affordable Winter Fun

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While Seattle experiences mostly rain and wind during the winter months, there are beautiful, snow-covered mountains just a short distance away. For many students, winter sports are a great way to spend a weekend, and we are always looking for affordable options. This blog post will help you find the best deals for winter sports and other winter fun in the Seattle area. Have a great December, and stay warm!

Skiing/Snowboarding

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Stevens Pass

  • Learn-in-3 Guarantee: This deal is for beginners who want to learn to ski or snowboard, and is a great value if you are learning. Each visit while in the program includes a lesson, rental equipment, and helmet. After you “graduate” the program, you can access other deals and discounts.
  • College Season Pass: This season pass is the best value for college students, and is available to current, full-time students (IELP students, that means you)!

Crystal Mountain

  • 5-Pack Tickets: If you want to ski or snowboard more than a few times, or you want to go on the slopes with friends, this deal gives you 5 vouchers to use yourself or split between a group.

Snowshoeing

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The Summit at Snoqualmie:

  • You can rent snowshoes at the Summit and snowshoe on their trails! Snowshoeing is a more affordable option than skiing and snowboarding, and still allows you to get outdoors and enjoy the beautiful Pacific Northwest mountains.

Crystal Mountain:

  • You can rent snowshoes and ride the gondola to trails for skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. Crystal Mountain has multiple lifts and the only gondola in Washington, meaning the ride to the trails is as wonderful as the journey down.

Hurricane Ridge:

  • Hurricane Ridge is a favorite spot for beginners. Although they do not rent snowshoes on-site, you can rent them from REI and bring them with you to the trail.

Tubing

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The Summit at Snoqualmie:

  • At the Summit, you can rent tubes and slide down one of their many tubing lanes. This is an affordable option that allows you to get out and enjoy the snow!

Suncadia Resort:

  • This resort offers a tubing hill AND a ice skating rink! For a low price, you can spend a few hours tubing, a few hours ice skating, and then warm up inside a restaurant at the resort.

Runs

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Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis:

  • If you enjoy races but are worried none are happening in the winter, Seattle has you covered! The Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis is a charity run where you can raise money for arthritis and enjoy a brisk walk or run in Westlake Park, Seattle.

Curl up with Hot Cocoa

If you want to remain closer to Seattle and stay warm with a hot drink, we would suggest trying the best hot chocolate Seattle offers! If coffee is more your style, try out one of our many coffee shops around UW.

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Downtown:

  • The Chocolate Box offers delicious, unique hot chocolate drinks, and other delicacies. The location is right next to Pike Place Market, making it a fantastic stop during a fun day downtown.

Near UW:

  • The Chocolati Cafe has locations around Seattle, and the Wallingford location is a short bus ride away from UW. They offer interesting flavors in their hot cocoa, and it is a great place to study and enjoy some treats.
  • Fran’s Chocolate is conveniently located in University Village, and offers a delicious hot chocolate mix for sale. You can bring this back home and enjoy a rich chocolate drink while watching holiday movies!

Gingerbread Village

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  • Every year, the Sheraton Hotel hosts a Gingerbread Village, this year at City Centre. Seattle architecture firms, master builders, and culinary artists team up to create incredible gingerbread structures. This is a fun holiday event that keeps you warm and indoors on chilly, rainy Seattle days. You can view these from November 21 to January 1 at City Centre.

Polar Bear Plunge

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  • One strange Seattle tradition is the Polar Bear Plunge, where Seattle residents ring in the new year by running into the cold water of Matthews Beach Park on January 1st. The Meadowbrook Community Center writes “We jump in the water at ‘high noon’ as a ginormous group of revelers welcoming in the new year with a sense of rejuvenation and renewal as we emerge.” Participate in this Seattle tradition and enjoy one of Seattle’s beautiful parks!

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Photo Credits: National Park Service, Seattle Backpackers Magazine, Actively Northwest, Summit of Snoqualmie, Findwell Seattle, Bon Appetit, Curbed Seattle, Seattle Parks, Feasts of all Seasons.

Halloween in America: History and Traditions

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Halloween is a beloved holiday for many Americans. Children and adults alike love to dress up in costumes, go to parties or trick or treating, and eat sweets and snacks. With all of the decorations and hype around the holiday, many people do not know the history of the holiday in America. Furthermore, people visiting the United States may be unaware of our American traditions. Through photos and stories by IELP staff, we invite you to learn more about Halloween!

History

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A Halloween party in 1924.

The original American colonies were mostly Puritan, and were against celebrating Halloween due to it’s association with evil and mischief. However, an influx of immigrants in the late nineteenth century helped popularize Halloween.

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Trick-or-treating increased in popularity as Americans began to dress up and go door-to-door, asking for food and money. While the history of Halloween was traditionally tied with ghosts, tricks, and witchcraft, there was a movement by neighborhoods to make Halloween about community and celebration. This was followed by the removal of “frightening” or “grotesque” descriptions of Halloween by parents and in newspapers, which made the holiday lose most of its religious overtones by the twentieth century.

Modern Traditions

Some traditions have remained from the early days of Halloween, but there are new traditions that are popular, especially within American colleges.

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Dressing up for Halloween is popular among people of all ages. In American colleges, finding a costume and dressing up for Halloween parties is a fun activity for many students. As pictured above, our IELP students love to dress up in fun costumes for our Mid-Quarter party!

Popular costumes include classic spooky costumes (skeletons, pumpkins, witches, and scary characters), animals, fairy-tale characters (Little Red Riding Hood, princesses), and pop culture references. Some people dress up in simple costumes, and some people like to go all out!

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Many students love to spend a couple hours with friends or family and carve a jack o’ lantern! This popular Halloween activity is known around the world, and is very popular in America. In many homes, you can see jack o’ lanterns lit with candles on Halloween night!

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Another Halloween tradition that is emerging in some American homes is “the Teal Pumpkin Project.” Homes with a teal pumpkin outside the door mean that the home is giving away non-food items, or non-allergen treats. Although most college students do not go trick-or-treating since the activity is meant for children, it is fun to know why teal pumpkins are popping up around Seattle!

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It is not uncommon to find a house in America that has Halloween decorations. Although usually not as complex as the one pictured above, many houses will be decorated with fake cobwebs, pumpkins and gourds, and other spooky decorations. While many countries celebrate Halloween, America is distinctly extravagant with decorations.

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For adults, and especially college students, there is no better way to celebrate Halloween than watching scary and classic Halloween movies. Horror movies are popular in every country, and loved year-round, but Halloween is a great time to re-watch your favorites.

There are some American movies made for children and teens that are not scary, but have a spooky element and are popular viewing during October. If you are interested, here are some favorites of our IELP staff: Halloweentown, Hocus Pocus, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Beetlejuice, and Casper.

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Whether you dress up, carve a jack o’ lantern, or watch Halloween movies, IELP wishes you a happy Halloween!

Photo credits: Pixabay, Pinterest, History by Zim, IELP, Wonderopolis, Anoka Halloween, Bustle.com

Celebrate 4th of July this Summer!

Independence Day is one of the biggest American holidays during the summer. Traditional activities include having a BBQ, eating apple pie, watching fireworks, and wearing red white and blue. Even if you don’t identify as American, it’s a fun and easy holiday to celebrate, and there are so many ways to get involved around Seattle! Here are some of the many activities going on in Seattle this July 4th.

1.Seafair Summer Fourth

This free, family-friendly fair takes place at Gasworks Park, only about a 20 minute walk from West campus! There will be food vendors, live entertainment, and “All-American games” such as pie-eating contests and sack-races during the day, with a spectacular firework show after the sun sets over Lake Union.

Event Website: http://www.seafair.com/events/2017/seafair-summer-4th

Credit: seafair.com

2. Family Fourth of July, Seatac 

This festival takes place all day at Angle Lake Park and features a free water spray park with spray nozzles for children to run through, carnival rides and bouncers, and a fantastic firework show at night.

For more Info: http://www.ci.seatac.wa.us/government/city-departments/parks-community-programs-services/special-events/family-fourth-of-july

3. Burien’s Fourth of July Parade

This parade is one of the oldest and most highly attended in King County! Beginning at 3pm and running for about 2 hours, this parade features floats, pirates, marching bands, and so much more! For more information on how to get involved, visit their website:

http://www.discoverburien.org/events/2017/07/04/

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4. Kent Fourth of July Splash

This unique festival features traditional American games from noon-5pm such as pie-eating contests and T-Bird puck and shoot. Kent also provides free shuttle transportation and parking close to Lake Meridian, and of course, no Fourth of July would be complete without a fireworks finale!

Event website: http://www.kentwa.gov/residents/parks-recreation-and-community-services/events/fourth-of-july-splash

Visit Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill, located just south of the University District where the University of Washington’s Seattle campus is located is a neighborhood full of culture! It has many great places to eat, relax, and encounter new things! See below for some suggestions for where to visit, eat, and have fun!

Volunteer Park

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This sculpture is called “Black Sun”

Also home to the Seattle Asian Art Museum, Volunteer Park is a great place to have a picnic and enjoy the outdoors. It has a water tower build over 100 years ago in 1906! You can walk up to the top and see a great view of Seattle. Volunteer Park is is where you can find the Volunteer Park Conservatory, which is open Tuesday thru Sunday from 10am-4pm. Tickets for the conservatory are FREE every FIRST Thursday and Saturday of each month. See more here.

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This is the Volunteer Park Conservatory

Elliott Bay Book Company

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The interior of the Elliott Bay Book Company

Founded in 1973, the Elliott Bay Book Company was originally located in Pioneer Square until it moved to it’s current location in Capitol Hill! It is a great local bookstore that everyone should visit!

Check out the events they have this month here!

Hello Robin

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Hello Robin serves local ice cream from Molly Moon’s

Hello Robin is a bakery which bakes cookies fresh each day, with flavors such as Chocolate Chip, Birthday Cake, Mackles’more, and more! They specialize in ice cream sandwiches made from these cookies, with Molly Moon’s ice cream sandwiched between two cookies! You can visit their website here.

Tacos Chukis

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Tacos Chukis is great! If you can find it.

Tacos Chukis is an excellent taqueria (a mexican restaurant which specializes in tacos) however it can be difficult to find. The prices though are on the lower end of many restaurants which are located in Capitol Hill! This taqueria is located upstairs in the Broadway Alley.

Dick’s

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This drive has several locations throughout Seattle

Dick’s is located on Broadway, like many other restaurants in Capitol Hill. It was founded in Seattle in the 1950s, as part of a fast food boom that was sweeping across the country. It is one of Seattle’s favorite traditional burger joints! It is important to note that this restaurant only accepts cash as payment. You can visit their website here.

Century Ballroom

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The Century Ballroom hosts all sorts of dancing!

Established in 1997, Century Ballroom promotes social dancing of all kinds! They host many events such as Bachata dancing, with a drop in lesson before. They also offer classes. Please note that many classes and events are only offered to those 21 and up.

Learn more here.

Dancing Feet

On Broadway, a major street in Capitol Hill where you can find a lot of places to eat there is an interesting art installment. The Broadway Dance Steps are bronze shoes in the ground, numbered to allow people to easily dance the rumba for instance without ever having to do it before! Read more about the history of the art installation here!

 

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The steps are numbered so you can dance!

Next time you’re in Capitol Hill make sure to check these out!