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Denny Park is about to turn into a winter wonderland

Snow Day, which kicks off December 14, is a new way to keep South Lake Union festive

The snow globe photo booth soon to be on display in Denny Park.
Courtesy of Friends of Denny Park

In dense neighborhoods like South Lake Union, the holiday season can be great, between light-up street trees, festive local business decor, and the kinds of streets that snow plows really prioritize. But there’s nothing like the elaborate light displays you’ll sometimes see in a more suburban-level neighborhood, with theme art and over-the-top decor.

This winter, Denny Park is bringing the two sensibilities together with a month-long light display called “Snow Day,” spearheaded by Friends of Denny Park, SLU Chamber, and Downtown Seattle Association. Thousands of lights create an immersive experience to activate the park, turned on between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. each day from December 14 through January 20.

“Our goal is to enrich the neighborhood for those that live here, as well as draw visitors who may not otherwise consider the neighborhood a destination spot,” explained Friends of Denny Park, which formed in 2016, in a statement.

The lighting display kicks off December 14 with a massive neighborhood holiday party with “holiday-themed entertainment,” craft projects, a snow globe photo booth, and a beer garden serving winter warmers—plus a special Snow Day playlist from KEXP.

As SLU has grown at a rapid pace, Denny Park, one of the few patches of green among burgeoning glass-and-steel towers, has gotten some extra attention in recent years. It started out as a cemetery, but became a park in 1884 after the bodies were moved to Lake View Cemetery. It’s gone through a lot of changes since then—like a massive Olmsted Brothers-led overhaul in 1903—but even as turn-of-the-century formal gardens and play structures came and went, it’s maintained a massive tree canopy of more than 140 trees in under five acres.

Most recently, the park got a 2017 makeover that added extra lighting and well-defined pathways. Since then, Friends of Denny Park has been busy activating the space with various events: outdoor movies, painting, and music. Snow Day is the organization’s first attempt at a major lighting display.