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8 Reasons to Spend your Holiday in the San Juans this Year

Written by Jennifer Furber, Published October 7, 2017.

Looking for a new winter destination? The holidays are a perfect time of year to visit San Juan Island. The streets are clear of summer crowds, the lines at coffee shops are short and the town looks so charming in its seasonal decorations. With less traffic to and from the islands, ferry travel is more relaxing.  Make ferry reservations ahead of time so you can arrive at the terminal 45-minute before your departure without any stress.


1. San Juan Island Artisans Holiday Marketplace

On Friday, November 24 and Saturday, November 25 the San Juan Island Artisans are sponsoring their 39th annual “Best of the County” islands market.  55 artists will showcase and sell their handmade, unique items, just in time for the holiday season.  From lotions and soaps to photography prints and island-made food, there’s something for everyone at The Artisans Holiday Market.  The Market is open each day from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and admission is free.  Local caterer Paella will have servings available as a fundraiser for the Island Artisans Scholarship Fund. For more information contact: Lauren Jawer 360-378-9425.

2. Friday Harbor Tree Lighting Celebration

The Island Lights Festival on December 1 is proudly produced by the San Juan Island Chamber of Commerce.  The Tree Lighting Ceremony is in partnership with Brickworks, Whale Museum, Island Rec, and San Juan Island Agriculture Guild.  The event begins with an ornament workshop and Open House at The Whale Museum, 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm.  At 5:15 pm the Friday Harbor Elementary School Choir, led by Joshua Boland, will lead carolers from the Whale Museum to Memorial Park in downtown Friday Harbor where the FHES Choir will join the Island Chordsman Plus, led by Angel Michaels.  Santa will then arrive and turn the lights on.  The carolers will lead the way, with Santa, to Brickworks for an Old Fashioned Christmas Celebration.

3. Santa at Brickworks

On Friday, December 1, after the tree lighting ceremony in downtown Friday Harbor, Santa will come to dinner at Brickworks from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm.  Homemade mac and cheese or soup will be served by Friday Harbor’s own Market Chef.   The San Juan Island Chamber of Commerce is offering a free picture with Santa by Mark Gardner.  Plus, enjoy free kid’s crafts by Island Rec and a campfire outside with chestnuts to roast on the open fire.  Brickworks and the San Juan Islands Agricultural Guild will have local harvest vegetable soup and bread for sale, along with spiced, local apple cider & hot chocolate.  For more details please contact the Chamber of Commerce 360-378-5240.

4. Friday Harbor Nutcracker presented by Salish Sea Ballet

Another can’t-miss event? The Friday Harbor Nutcracker features original ballet choreography that celebrates our island culture while honoring The Nutcracker’s classical roots.  Salish Sea Ballet’s company is made up of local dancers of all ages who train at the Salish Sea Pre-Professional Ballet School in Friday Harbor.  Opening night is Saturday, December 16 at 7:00 pm, with another performance on Sunday, December 17 at 2:00 pm.  Following the ballet there will be a tea party, food & drink, a holiday gift boutique, dancer photo opportunities, and more.  Tickets are available at the door and on the Salish Sea Ballet website.  Adult tickets are $30, and it is $25 for children 8 years old and younger.

5. Brickworks Old-Fashioned Christmas Market

On Saturday, December 2 and Sunday, December, Brickworks will seem like a step back in time.  The historic barn is strung with lights and the venue is full of island crafts, food vendors, farm produce, live holiday music performances, and free activities for kids.  The barn will have something for everyone: children’s cookie decorating, farm animals, a hayride, and even visits from Santa and the Sugar Plum Fairy.  Plus, from 10 am to 4 pm, carolers and musicians will be playing as shoppers indulge and enjoy locally prepared holiday treats.  The Brickworks Old-Fashioned Christmas Market is produced by the San Juan Islands Agricultural Guild and the San Juan Island Farmer’s Market.

6. Lighted Boat Parade & Santa’s Arrival to The Port of Friday Harbor

On December 16, 2017 The Friday Harbor Sailing Club & the Port of Friday Harbor are proud to announce the 24th Annual Lighted Boat Parade and Santa’s arrival to Friday Harbor. The parade of boats will be bright at 6:30 as the boats parade around the harbor and help guide Santa to the Port dock at 7:00 pm.  Additionally, along the waterfront there will be cookies, cider, and carolers. The town awards a free night’s moorage as well to boaters that participate in the parade.  For more information, please contact The Port of Friday Harbor.  

7. Santa Ship in The Port of Friday Harbor

Still not on board? Well Santa is! In fact, his ship will land at the Spring Street Landing Pier amid carolers and complimentary cider, cookies and holiday cheer.  Santa will begin walking up the Spring Street Landing Pier at 6:30. The Santa Ship will visit Friday Harbor on Saturday, December 17, 2016. He will land at the Spring Street Landing Pier. There will also be a lighted boat parade at 6:30pm to add to the holiday festivities.

8. Roche Harbor Annual Christmas Block Party

Finally, the Annual Christmas Party at Roche Harbor Resort will occur all afternoon and evening, Saturday, December16,  2017.  Expect a lighted Roche boat parade, Madrona Grill hors d’oeuvres and drinks, and photos with Santa.  The historic village is a must-see around the holidays.  Check out the Roche Harbor Resort webpage for any questions at all.  



Come stay with us at the San Juan Island Inn Collection in any of our cozy rooms, suites or cottages. We assure you, you’ll have a holiday experience for the books.

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