Do you have to go shopping on Black Friday? Is the day after Thanksgiving nothing more than a day of homage to materialism? Not if you live in or around Seattle. Not only can you kick off your holiday season with all the activities and wonders of Winterfest at the Seattle Center, but you can add proof to an interesting psychology study that showed that “buying life experiences rather than material possessions leads to greater happiness for both the consumer and those around them.”

So go play at Winterfest and be a happier person.

Ice skating at Winterfest
Ice skating at Winterfest

The Winterfest Ice Rink will open on Friday, November 27th and will stay open until January 3rd, 2010, which is longer this year than usual. The rink is in Fisher Pavilion and is open from 11 am to 8 pm Sundays through Thursdays, and 11 am to 10 pm Fridays and Saturdays. It only costs $5 for adults and $3 for kids through age 12, with skate rentals at $2. That’s not much to pay for happiness.

The Winterfest Classic Carousel just outside Fisher Pavilion – you can see it through the windows – runs on the same schedule as the Ice Rink and only costs $1. Now that’s a bargain.

When you feel the need to warm up, head inside the Center House and check out the Winter Train and Village, a fantastic miniature Norman Rockwell landscape sure to appeal to kids and train buffs. It’s open daily from 10 am to 7 pm. You can even drive the train. They suggest a $2 donation.

These are just the things you can find every day at the Seattle Center. In addition, Winterfest offers dozens of free events, from performances by the area’s best choirs and orchestras to dances and movies. The grounds will be lit up in winter wonderland style and if you haven’t considered the Seattle Center as a good place to just hang out, you should remember there’s plenty of food and drink there as well as Free Wi-Fi. What more could you want?

Community Winterfest at Seattle Center starts on Black Friday, runs through January 3rd