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Originally published Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 7:02 PM

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Seattle Center's Winterfest welcomes the holiday season

Seattle Center Winterfest, Nov. 23-Jan. 6, Seattle.

Seattle Times staff

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Seattle Center is dressed up for the holidays at the Winterfest festival, Friday through Jan. 6. Seasonal and classical music by Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra star in opening day festivities at 12:30 p.m. Friday, perfect timing to allow you to hop on the Monorail between the Holiday Parade at 9 a.m. and the Macy's star lighting at 4:45 p.m. downtown for a big day to kick off the holiday season.

Winterfest entertainment at the Armory — formerly known as the Center House — includes Seattle Men's Chorus Saturday and the Cat Pack comedy improv musical show, inspired by the Rat Pack era, on Sunday.

Other events include an art installation and participatory "There's No Place Like Home" performance at the International Fountain Saturday; the Klez Kids, with world Jewish music Dec. 16; and a Student Showcase of youth music and dance performances daily.

The traditional Winter Train and Village exhibit is back, offering visitors a turn at the train controls. The Winterfest Ice Rink at Fisher Pavilion, the only Winterfest activity that charges admission, is open daily for a spin on ice skates.

If you haven't been to the Center lately, there have been changes and upgrades for its 50th anniversary this year. The Armory got a face-lift to restore some of its 1939 style and more glass to open a view of what's happening outside.

There are new food vendors and old favorites including Seattle Children's Museum, celebrating the holiday season with Festivals of Lights holidays from around the world through Jan. 6 (206-441-1768 or www.thechildrensmuseum.org/).

Other Seattle Center updates include Chihuly Garden and Glass, open since May; the demise of Fun Forest rides; and current events including EMP Museum's "Hendrix Hits London" and "Black Leather Jacket" displays and holiday activities (206-770-2772 or www.empsfm.org); and "Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharoahs" at Pacific Science Center (800-664-8775 or www.pacificsciencecenter.org).

The Monorail runs every 10 minutes between Seattle Center and Westlake Station, opening early at 7 a.m. Friday for holiday-season events. Regular hours: 7:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 8:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

The details

Seattle Center Winterfest

Time: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, Friday through Jan. 6; closing 4 p.m. Dec. 24, closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1; New Year's Eve celebration, 8:15-11:45 p.m. Dec. 31. Take a turn controlling the miniature train, 10:30 a.m.-noon, 1-2:30 and 3:30-5:30 p.m. daily, suggested $2 cash-only donation.

Cost: Free.

Winterfest Ice Rink: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; closes 4 p.m. Dec. 24, closed Dec. 25, open until 11:30 p.m. Dec. 31; Fisher Pavilion, Seattle Center; $7/adults, $5/ages 6-12, $2/ages 5 and younger, includes skate rental; cash only; free for spectators.

Location: Seattle Center, Seattle. Metro Transit service, 206-553-3000 or tripplanner.kingcounty.gov/. Seattle Center Monorail, 206-905-2620 or www.seattlemonorail.com. Sound Transit Link light-rail information, 206-398-5000 or soundtransit.org.

More information: 206-684-7200 or www.seattlecenter.com.

Madeline McKenzie: 206-464-8245 or mmckenzie@seattletimes.com

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