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It’s that magical time of year again in the Northwest and what better way to bring in the holiday season than the 62nd annual Christmas Ship Festival from Argosy Cruises.

The festival features the ever popular Christmas Ship decked out with décor, filled with music and brimming with holiday spirit. The Christmas Ship sets sail on 25 nights this season and stops at many Puget Sound waterfront locations. Opening night is this coming Thursday, December 1st. An opening ceremony and the Christmas Ship departure will take place at the Kirkland Marina.

Onboard, riders can enjoy chorus performances and a visit from Santa Clause. You can also ride on one of the dinner cruise boats which trail behind the Christmas Ship so you can experience all the sights and sounds while dining. If you didn’t spring for a ticket this year, don’t worry because the Marina is a great place to simply watch the ceremony and see the ship with your family. The ceremony is from 6:30-7:00 pm.

If you’re on the Westside, the ship will make its way to Gas Works Park in South Lake Union for all bystanders to enjoy and will be there between 8:20 and 8:40 pm. If you would like to purchase tickets for a Christmas Ship cruise, see a full schedule of events or to find more information, please see the website. Ticket proceeds will benefit the Seattle Times Fund for The Needy. See you at Gas Works Park for this highlight of Lake Union events!

Featured photo from Seattle.Findwell.com

The popular local chain, Cactus, is now serving up its Southwestern and Mexican cuisine in Lake Union. Located in one of the Amazon headquarter buildings, Cactus is competing with Tom Douglas and his three nearby restaurants for the techie consumer. According to a TechFlash article, Cactus is (naturally) busy on the weekdays during lunch, as Amazon employees fill their bellies with Chimayo Enchiladas or Smoked Chicken Quesadillas.

As Amazon continues to grow and more businesses move into the neighborhood (hi Facebook), Cactus will continue to be busy during lunches and early dinners, as workers start heading home. With restaurant expansions like this, Lake Union is developing into quite the Seattle neighborhood hot spot. Now might be the time to start that great restaurant or business idea in the neighborhood, catered to the techies of course. Check out the perfect Lake Union restaurant space in Seattle here.

Featured photo from Seattle Eater.

The South Lake Union neighborhood continues to flourish with big-name companies, retailers, restaurants and housing, and national developer Equity Residential is getting in on it. The nation’s largest developer recently proposed a new 275-unit apartment complex to sit on Minor Ave. N. between John and Thomas Streets. The site, which is a half-block, is pending sale after being put on the market this year. Equity Residential has one other project at Lake Union on Dexter Avenue North. To see a full list of projects in Lake Union real estate and the greater Seattle area, please visit the official website.

South Lake Union Residents, expect to see the infamous white “f” with the blue background in your neighborhood. Facebook will be in the area.

As one of the largest offices outside of Palo Alto, Seattle Facebook is growing and doubling its size, adding 60 engineers. The wonderfully-located office near Pike Place Market was not large enough, so Facebook is following Amazon’s example and moving to South Lake Union. It will be moving into a 27,000 sq. ft. office space at 1730 Minor Avenue.

Having both Amazon and Facebook in the South Lake Union area will make a positive impact on real estate to the already desirable Lake Union area, home to properties that even win architectural awards. The best and brightest engineers means more cafes, more shops, and more businesses in general.

For those with property in South Lake Union, expect to see it increase in value. For those without property in South Lake Union, now might be the time to buy if you can get financing. It sounds like it’s becoming a bit of a tech center.

Featured photo from Urban Condo Spaces.

Making the neighborhood of Lake Union even more desirable, the Olson Kundig-designed Art Stable was a winner at the 2011 Honor Awards for Washington Architecture. Out of the 140 submitted projects, the Lake Union “Art Stable” received one of four Honor Awards distributed that night. According to the release, the project was well-received by all of the judges, with one stating that it “improved the standing of architecture in the United States.”

Looking at the Lake Union project, it is understandable why it received the award. The 6 units boast gorgeous 11-ftfloor to ceiling windows, fantastic for catching sunset views across the South Lake Union neighborhood. The design is avant-garde and customizable, due to the units only being shell. Additionally, it has a wonderful environmental aspect to it, with environmental heating and even an electric car hook up. Welcome Nissan Leaf owners.

When I last checked, there were still units available in the Lake Union property. However, I suspect that it won’t be long until it has full tenancy. I cannot stop looking at these interior photos. It is gorgeous inside. I can only think of the endless possibilities of living or working in a breathtaking, award-winning building, such as the Art Stable.

Featured photo from ResidentialArchitect.com

If you work in or near Lake Union, you won’t want to miss this special deal. Eight restaurants will be offering free samples from 11:30am-1pm today, Friday, October 14th, near Denny Park at 2201 Westlake Avenue. Taste the free samples as a lunch replacement. This sampling event is a kick-off for the upcoming Seattle Restaurant Week, which runs from October 16th – October 27th. Either way, it’s a fantastic way to sample some tasty treats from yummy Seattle restaurants, including Anthony’s Pier 66, the Seastar Restaurant, and more.

For more information on the sampling event, please visit this article in the Pacific Sound Business Journal. For more information on the Seattle Restaurant Week, visit the website here.

The Fremont Oktoberfest is tapping the first kegs tonight, Friday September 23rd, beginning at 5:00 pm to kick off the 3 day festival. The annual Lake Union event features a variety of beer gardens and lounges to enjoy your favorite brews, as well as awesome entertainment on multiple stages to keep your toes tapping. Tonight, Oktoberfest will be open until midnight, on Saturday from 11:00 am to midnight, and Sunday 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. Attendees can purchase tickets on line or at the gate day-of starting at $15/person for general admission. General admission prices including tasting tokens start at $20/person. For more information on the festival or to purchase tickets, please visit the official website. See you at Oktoberfest!!

Featured photo from fremontoktoberfest.com

Multiple news sources and Seattle online columns have been touching on the subject of the South Lake Union development boom as of late. Back in 2004, an economist predicted that the South Lake Union area would create 15,000 to 23,000 jobs by 2020 and after the bio-tech boom from Amazon and other notable companies, new construction, and the streetcar system, 14,000 new jobs have been created since that estimation. This number is 30% over the estimate, and its likely job creation will continue to grow at a fast pace, which is great for people working and living in Lake Union. For more information, please visit the articles linked above.

Nearby Fremont has just what you’re looking for when it comes to warm summer nights-an outdoor movie. This Saturday, July 23rd, the Fremont Outdoor Movies series is featuring Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. The bargain showing (just $5 a ticket!), will be held at Fremont Studios, 3501 Phinney Ave. N. Attendees can bring chairs, blankets, food and drink to make movie going enjoyable. You can also purchase treats from the mobile food snack cart. The Fremont Outdoor Movies was named the best outdoor movie spot of 2011, so check it out this weekend and see for yourself. For more information about Fremont Outdoor Movies and to find a full summer activities schedule, please visit the official website.

Featured photo from the Fremont Outdoor Cinema website.

It’s here, the Family 4th at Lake Union celebration and fireworks display is happening Monday, July 4th at Gas Works Park, which opens at 12:00 pm. You’ll have the chance to visit the beer garden, eat and drink and participate in activities until the show starts at 10:10 pm. Don’t miss out on the best fireworks display in Seattle, and get to Gas Works Park early. Parking will be scarce and the grounds fill up quickly. For more information, please visit the official website. Have and fun and safe 4th of July Seattle!

Featured photo from seattle.about.com