Winterfest, New Year’s Eve at the Space Needle and Polar Plunge

Special events leading up to 2014 include Seattle Center Winterfest, through Dec. 31; New Year’s Eve at the Space Needle, Dec. 31; Seattle Parks Polar Plunge Jan. 1.

By Madeline McKenzie, Seattle Times staff

It’s the last weekend of the holiday season and there’s still time to get out and experience light displays, the downtown carousel and other holiday happenings before it’s time to ring in the New Year.

Seattle Center Winterfest continues through Tuesday’s big New Year’s Eve celebration. Weekend entertainment includes Massive Monkees dance crew at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, and the Winterfest Ice Rink is open daily through Jan. 5.

Tuesday, New Year’s Eve, there’s a free, all-ages dance at Seattle Center Armory from 8-11:45 p.m. and the ice rink is open until 11:30 p.m. so there’s plenty to do before the up-close view of the grand fireworks show off our Space Needle to welcome 2014 at midnight.

Along with Seattle Center crowds, people at venues around the area with views of the Needle and TV viewers locally and around the world will admire the festive spectacle, one of the world’s largest structure-launched fireworks displays. First-time partner KEXP coordinates the music score for the show, broadcast on 90.3 FM for everyone watching the display, also broadcast live on KING-5 TV.

The Space Needle Observation Deck and restaurants close at 6 p.m. Monday for private, sold-out events. The Monorail is great way to get to Seattle Center, but for safety reasons, it’s closed from approximately 11:15 p.m. until the fireworks show is over, resuming about 12:20 a.m. and continuing until 1 a.m. to get you back downtown after the show.

For anyone looking for a bold, brave and kind of crazy start for your New Year, take a dip in Lake Washington at the Seattle Parks Polar Plunge Wednesday at Matthews Beach Park.

Be ready for anything in 2014 after immersing yourself neck-deep in the cold lake and earning your Official Badge of Courage to commemorate the adventurous achievement.

More than 1,800 people of all ages are expected at the event along with their fans and supporters, and registration is required to earn your badge, so come early; carpools or arriving by bus or bike is suggested. Warm beverages are provided and costumes are encouraged for the festive event.

For younger participants or anyone who needs a bit more room, the more low-key “Polar Cub Club” dip precedes the big main event. The official group plunge is at noon; some adventurous folks do both.

Happy New Year!

Madeline McKenzie: