Night falls well before five o’clock in the grip of the Big Dark. But that means we get to define “nightlife” more liberally. Seattle’s not exactly a hub of after-hours debauchery, like New York or Los Angeles. Still, our own brand of evening entertainment sustains us during the months when post-work paddleboarding is off the table.
While impressive in the light of day, the sprawling blown-glass creations of famed
Tacoma-born artist Dale Chihuly flare to life in the evenings, with strategically placed artificial illumination breathing new, rich color and shadow into the towering sculptures. Its hours are updated frequently, with closure sometime between 5 and 7pm, which hits a sweet spot for those beholden to early bedtimes.
A stroll through the zoo’s annual holiday light festival reaches all corners of the animal kingdom, from glowing swarms of dragonflies in All About Bugs to the blazing savanna of A Walk Among African Animals. Except Mondays and holidays, WildLanterns runs every day through January 22.
Powered by pandemic hobbyists and a wave of Stranger Things–fueled ’80s nostalgia, roller skating is, dare we say, having a moment. There’s only one indoor rink within city limits, but with an adjoining dive bar and live music or a DJ every night except Monday (when you get what you pay for, since admission is free), this spot in White Center is a one-stop shop.
This one-screen indie theater is hygge embodied, with snug vinyl booths and a menu that includes hot tea, a giant soft pretzel, and popcorn that’s delivered to your table in a homey little bowl. Central’s film selection deftly walks the line between crowd-pleasing and highly legit, with Miyazaki gems appearing on the calendar alongside weirder film buff–leaning flicks like The Room and the occasional Bogart classic.
With $5 drinks—generations of which have rendered the floor amazingly adhesive—and fifty-cent vintage arcade games, this grimy basement of a pinball bar in Fremont is good, old-fashioned family fun (just kidding, please do not bring your children here). Not all the games are in working order. Ziggi the Clown, for example, sits dejectedly in his case, slumped as though he personally feels the weighty sins of every person in the room, his coin slot rusted shut. And some of the pinball machines might eat your quarters. But the uncertainty is part of the singular experience that is Add-a-Ball.
Seattle, already a hockey town before the release of the Kraken last year, is still enamored with the shiny newness of its NHL team and Iceplex alike. Public skates, which go until 10:15pm on Fridays, can draw hefty crowds, but no one is trying to go too fast after a couple of barnburners (an unholy, weirdly smashable union of Fireball whiskey, orange juice, and maple syrup) from the 32 Bar and Grill anyway.
The gallery and event space, also equipped with a full bar, uplifts local creatives across mediums, hosting shows that range from a photo series centered on queer Indigenous joy to an exhibition of the paintings of ascendant visual artist Barry Johnson as part of the Seattle Deconstructed Art Fair. Wedged next to Cafe Racer and Crybaby Studios, it helps infuse this block with very artsy, old-school Hill vibes.
Should you reveal yourself to be a tabletop gaming noob at the counter, the staff will steer you in the direction of a softball like Exploding Kittens or Codenames with the brisk, nonjudgmental bedside manner of a budtender. More advanced delights like Terraforming Mars and Mage Knight await the seasoned player, or the determined beginner who’s willing to spend an hour or two tormented by confusion. The craft beer on tap unites gamers of all levels.
The Pacific Science Center’s dazzling laser shows are tightly choreographed against a backdrop of classics—the Foo Fighters, Pink Floyd—and contemporary hits courtesy Doja Cat and Bad Bunny. At $15 for a full-price ticket, this Seattle institution remains relatively affordable.