All the Holiday Events Coming to Thurston County This Winter

by Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty, Inc. on November 1, 2018

All the Holiday Events Coming to Thurston County This Winter

With Halloween fresh in our rearview, it’s no secret the Holiday Season is coming at us in full swing.

The Holiday Season is an amazing time to be in Thurston County. Our community is full of rich culture, dazzling lights, lively and festive events for all ages, and a neighborhood of people excited to celebrate.

Like ornaments on a tree, our holiday events and traditions delight the senses, add sparkle to your social calendar, and come in every shape, size, and color.

With so many fun and festive things to do, it’s difficult to figure out how to plan out your time. And that’s why we have created a helpful guide for you! Read on for all the holiday events coming to Thurston County through the end of the year.

November 2-3

27th Annual Homemade For The Holidays

When: Friday, November 2, 4:00-8:00 PM and Saturday, November 3, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Where: Thurston County Fairgrounds, 3054 Carpenter Road SE, Lacey

This event takes up three spacious buildings filled with a variety of uniquely handcrafted items from more than 75 local crafters and artists. There will also be a bake sale sponsored by the Lacey Presbyterian Church and lunch available from Madeline’s Bavarian Wurst. Donations for the Thurston County Food Bank are accepted here, so be sure to bring some goodies. Give back to our wonderful community and enjoy your holiday fun all at the same time!

Admission and parking are free!

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Image from Thurston County Fairgrounds & Event Center website

November 3

Tumwater Holiday Bazaar

When: Saturday, November 3, 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Where: Pellegrino’s Catering & Event Center

5757 Littlerock Rd SW, Tumwater

Come celebrate the 6th Annual Tumwater Holiday Bazaar and pick from a wonderful array of handcrafted gifts to suit everyone on your holiday shopping list. You’ll enjoy crafts from your old favorites as well as plenty of new vendors. Food and beverages will be provided by Pellegrino’s as well!

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November 16 – 17

Swede Hall Holiday Bazaar

When: Friday, November 16, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM and Saturday, November 17, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Where: Swede Hall

18543 Albany St SW, Rochester

Visit the historic Swede Hall the weekend of the 16th-17th for all your gift giving needs this season— especially for the outdoorsman in your life. Visitors can choose from handmade wooden toys and ornaments, leather goods, scroll saw art, crochet items, jewelry, birdhouses and feeders, live wreaths, walking sticks, various fabric crafts, kitchen towels, hunting & pocket knives, several Watkins products, and many more vendors with innovative gift ideas. You can take a photo with Santa, enjoy free refreshments, and even give back while enjoying your holiday fun by bringing non-perishable donations for the Thurston County Food Bank.

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November 25

downtown for the holidays

Downtown for the Holidays

When: Sunday, November 25, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Where: Downtown Olympia

The Olympia Downtown Association puts on a very merry extravaganza each year on the Sunday after Thanksgiving in Downtown Olympia to kick off the holiday season in style. Each year, residents and visitors enjoy a fun-filled day of enchanting window shopping, photos with Santa, a parade, a tree lighting ceremony, and much more. It’s all interactive, too! Window shopping becomes much more with the Twinkle Fest Storefront decorating contest, where you can actually vote for your favorite display! Gingerbread houses have been exquisitely crafted into works of art, on display for everyone to enjoy and even vote for their favorites! Come experience Olympia in its most magical form on Sunday, November 25.

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Image from Olympia Downtown Alliance


November 30 – December 23

tiny tim

Olympia Family Theater Presents Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol

When: November 30 –  December 23, Various dates and times

Where: Olympia Family Theater

612 4th Ave E, Olympia

The Olympia Family Theater was founded in 2006 with a mission to encourage and raise imaginative, loving, joyful and confident children, and it has done just that. This year, the OFT extends their repertoire to spreading holiday cheer. Bring the kids and see just how to change the heart of the greediest man in town in their adaptation of the Charles Dickens’ classic novel. This rendition engages children of all ages into the magical Christmas tale of Tiny Tim, determined to have his father home for Christmas Day and provides heartwarming lessons of compassion and forgiveness. After all, isn’t that what the holidays are all about?

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Image from Olympia Family Theater


November 30 – December 2

christmas in the forest

Providence St. Peter Christmas in the Forest

Gala Dinner and Auction:  

When: Friday, November 30, 5:00 PM

Public Viewing:

When: Saturday, December 1, 9 AM – 5 PM, Sunday, December 2, 9 AM – 5 PM

Where: Hotel RL Olympia

2300 Evergreen Park Dr SW

Once a year, an enchanting indoor forest springs up in Olympia— the Providence St. Peter Foundation’s Christmas Forest, a ballroom filled with elaborately decorated trees and wreaths.

This truly special event gets everybody in the holiday spirit…and we mean everybody. Perusing the forest has become a tradition for many families, with about 4,000+ people visiting each year.

The forest isn’t just about fun, though. This three-day event is the foundation’s largest fundraiser and community event which has raised more than $10 million for the foundation, which funds programs, equipment purchases and capital improvements at Providence St. Peter Hospital. And the trees, with carefully and elaborately planned themes, aren’t just pretty to look at. They’re actually auctioned off at the gala dinner with a typical base price of around $800.

Saturday, December 1, is Kids Day, so bring the little ones to enjoy an array of holiday-themed events. From visiting with Santa to interacting with the Hands On Children’s Museum, who will be on-site providing crafts and activities, it’s truly a magical kick-off to the holiday season.

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Image from Providence St. Peter Foundation website


December 1

olympia toy run

Oly Toy Run

When: Saturday, December 1, 10:00 AM

Where: South Sound Center, Sears Parking Lot

711 Sleater-Kinney Road SE, Lacey

The Olympia Toy Run is a yearly event that draws nearly 10,000 motorcycles to Olympia. But it’s more than just an excuse for motorcycle aficionados to gather together. The Olympia Toy Run is put together for one very worthy purpose: to spread joy to children in need by providing them with gifts to open on Christmas morning, and they’re proud to bring its 40th year to the streets this year on December 1.

Spectators and donators are invited to gather on sidewalks along the route. Strapped to the motorcycles lined up row after row are lots of brand new toys. All the toys and money received are donated to The Salvation Army for distribution to children in need through its Toy n’ Joy Shop.

Though riders come from far and wide to participate, it’s truly a proud day to be an Olympian!

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Image from Olympia Toy Run website


December 1


Yuletide Celebration: A Holiday Concert

When: Saturday, December 1, 7:30 PM

Where: Washington Center for the Performing Arts

512 Washington St. SE, Olympia

Who doesn’t love any excuse to spend an evening at Olympia’s beloved performing arts center, The Washington Center for the Performing Arts? The center has hosted thousands of unique events and has provided entertainment and cheer to the residents of Thurston County starting all the way back in the 1920’s when it stood as the Liberty Theater.

This holiday concert, presented by the Masterworks Choral Ensemble is the perfect occasion to gather everyone together for an evening of joyous music. The choir will perform songs celebrating the season and even take us back to the early roots of Christmas music.

The Yuletide celebration has ancient roots in a winter festival that included feasting and merrymaking. This evening celebration is sure to make you merry, too.

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Image from The Center website


December 1

Hawks Holiday Happening Gift and Craft Fair

When: Saturday, December 1, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Where: River Ridge High School

350 River Ridge Dr. SE, Lacey

Why not do your holiday shopping and give back to students in need at the annual Hawks Holiday Happening Gift and Craft Fair this year?! This annual craft fair, held at River Ridge High School, will have more than 170 unique vendors and you’re sure to leave with some very special, one-of-a-kind gifts for those on your list.

And there is so much more to do than shopping! To help raise much-needed money, students will hold a silent auction during this free event. There are also hourly free door prize drawings as well as a variety of entertainment throughout the day, including local bands and choirs. They also offer free family photos taken with Frosty the Snowman!

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December 1

yelm chamber of commerce

Yelm Christmas Parade

When: Saturday, December 1, 9:00 AM

Where: Downtown Yelm

The Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce is proud to kick off the holiday season with their annual Christmas parade on December 1! The Christmas Parade is a great mix of local businesses and organizations either on foot or a float going through downtown Yelm. This parade has been a tradition in Yelm for many, many years! This year’s theme is “Party like it’s Christmas 1988”! So get your 80’s gear ready and have a blast!

Registration for the parade closes November 2, so get your last minute applications in now!

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Image from Yelm Chamber website

December 1

Olympia Yacht Club Parade of Ships

When: Saturday, December 1, 5:15 PM

Where: Port Plaza Park

701 Columbia St NW, Olympia

The Olympia Yacht Club’s (OYC) Annual 2018 Parade of Lighted Ships is a long-standing Olympia holiday tradition, and it is scheduled for Saturday, December 1. While the Parade starts promptly at 6, the OYC encourages spectators to arrive a bit earlier to Port Plaza Park to ensure the views of the decorated boats as they sail by. They say the best view is at the @Port Plaza Tower, just in front of @Anthony’s Restaurant.

Around 5:15, Santa & Mrs. Claus are making a special appearance at Port Plaza Park and they will be joined by local carolers from the Capital High School Chamber Choir. Another fun element to this parade is that people tend to plan holiday parties all along the Budd Inlet during this night!

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December 1

Waste Free Holidays

When: Saturday, December 1, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Where: WET Science Center

500 Adams St. NE, Olympia

Did you know that Americans throw away 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day than they do during any other time of the year? The added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows, ribbons and more add up to an additional 1 million tons of waste each week. That’s a lot of garbage!

This year, consider doing something a little different— learn how to have a waste-free holiday at the WET Science Center first for a presentation to learn a little more about the things we buy, use, and toss to help us make more informed purchases in the future and even how to host a waste-free holiday party! Then, participate in some fun holiday craft making (waste-free, of course) for the rest of the afternoon.

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December 3

Lacey Parade of Lights

When: Monday, December 3, 6:30 PM

Where: Huntamer Park

618 Woodland Square Loop SE, Lacey

The City of Lacey is proud to put on their third year of the Lacey Parade of Lights on Monday, December 3 at 6:30 PM with a tree lighting to follow at Hunamter Park. The Lacey Parade of Lights invites local clubs, organizations, businesses, and community members to decorate their vehicles with Christmas lights and participate in a driving parade that undoubtedly brightens the streets of Lacey.

If you would like to take part in the parade, visit the City of Lacey website and fill out an application and submit it by 5:00 PM, Friday, November 16. This has become a wonderful community tradition in Lacey, so be sure to join in on the fun.

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December 7 – December 16

Ballet northwest

Ballet Northwest Presents The Nutcracker

When: December 7 – December 16, Various dates and times

Where: Washington Center for the Performing Arts

512 Washington St. SE, Olympia

Olympia’s very own Ballet Northwest is excited to present their rendition of the beloved Christmas Classic, The Nutcracker. This year they’re returning to the Washington Center for the Performing Arts to treat the whole community to beautiful visions of the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Nutcracker Prince, and a humongous battle beneath the Christmas tree.

Join Ballet Northwest and little Clara and be mesmerized by Tchaikovsky’s timeless score while you get lost in the Land of Sweets. Is there a sweeter way to spend the season?

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Image from Washington Center website


December 7 – December 23

a christmas story

Olympia Little Theater Presents A Christmas Story

When: December 7 – December 23, Various dates and times

Where: Olympia Little Theatre

1925 Miller Ave NE, Olympia

We’ve all seen TBS’s 24 Hours of A Christmas Story enough times to know by now what Ralphie really wants for Christmas! But this time, we get a fabulous Olympia Little Theater twist on Jean Shepherd’s iconic memoir of growing up in the Midwest in the 1940’s.

This amazing adaptation engages audience members of all ages in their intimate 106-seat theater, bringing imagination, curiosity, and discovery to all who are open to it. Come check out one of their many showings throughout December and enjoy the beloved story of a boy, his family, his friends, and of course, the leg lamp!

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Image from Olympia Little Theater website


December 8

16th Annual Tumwater Christmas Tree Lighting

When: Saturday, December 8, 2:00 – 5:00 PM

Where: Tumwater City Hall & Headquarters Fire Station

311 Israel Rd SW, Tumwater

The Tumwater Christmas Tree Lighting Festival is held each year on the 2nd Saturday in December, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., at the Tumwater City Hall & Headquarters Fire Station.

This cherished annual event includes everything from interactive games and holiday crafts, to performances by local school choirs, and of course, the infamous lighting of the tree. Santa even makes an appearance and arrives on a gorgeous antique fire truck after the ceremony to share his joyful laugh and spread some holiday cheer.

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December 8

Oly Film Society Duck the Malls

When: Saturday, December 8, 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Where: Olympia Film Society

206 5th Avenue SE, Olympia

The Olympia Film Society is inviting all of us to do some extra special holiday shopping this year at Duck the Malls, their annual arts and crafts extravaganza in the historic Capitol Theater.

This event is a fundraiser created to support our local art community by attracting people who appreciate the unique quality of local handmade items created by our amazing local artists. They also have a delicious Bake Sale, where proceeds go to benefit the OFS.

Duck the Malls has become a beloved local tradition and offers an unprecedented opportunity to shop locally, creatively, and alternatively for the holidays and support true craftsmanship! You’ll have over 50 vendors to choose from throughout the day!

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December 8 – 10

Olympia Choral Society Annual Christmas Concert

When: Saturday, December 8, 7:30 PM, Sunday, December 9, 2:30 PM & 7:30 PM, and Monday, December 10, 2:30 PM

Where: James Koval Center for Performing Arts

4155 6th Ave NE, Lacey

The Olympia Choral Society exists to serve its community. They do this by providing free concerts, raising funds to benefit local charities and organizations, and providing opportunities for singers to share in the joy of performing beautiful music. Their annual Christmas Concert has become so popular that they’ve added showtimes and there is no reserved seating in the Koval Center for the Performing Arts, so be sure to get there early! And though admission is free, donations will be accepted to benefit the North Thurston Education Foundation.

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December 9 – December 16

the nutcracker

Studio West Presents The Nutcracker

When: December 9 – December 16, Various dates and times

Where: Washington Center for the Performing Arts

512 Washington St. SE, Olympia

Studio West is proud to perform The Nutcracker this year at the Washington Center for the Performing arts with various showings from December 9th through the 16th. In honor of their 10th year, the third performance, held on Thursday the 13th, will be a special “NuttyCracker”. That means all of the dancing, music, and beauty you remember will be there, but with a nutty twist!

Come get swept away this holiday season by their fresh take on the Christmas classic.

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Image from Washington Center website


December 29

New Years Around The World

When: Saturday, December 29, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Where: WET Science Center

500 Adams St NE, Olympia

What are your favorite New Year’s traditions? Bring your kids and take a deeper dive into the cherished traditions from other cultures around the world. Find out why people wear polka dots, eat 12 grapes, and much more fun and interesting facts. The WET Science Center is dedicated to providing educational experiences and exposing our community’s children, parents and teachers the importance of being so aware of the world around us.

You’ll also be invited to create a variety of New Year’s Eve crafts— from noisemakers to hats!

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January 1

polar bear plunge

Polar Bear Plunge

When: Tuesday, January 1, 2019, 12:00 PM (Plunge at 1:00 PM)

Where: Long Lake Park

2790 Carpenter Road SE

New Years Day marks the annual Polar Bear Plunge at Long Lake Park in Lacey. The annual event attracts thrill-seeking, adventurous swimmers to start their year off with a bang— well, a plunge.

You can join fellow enthusiasts in this chilling ritual of bringing in the New Year OR you can stay nice and warm and dry on the shore and cheer on the swimmers!  

What a chilly way to kick off your New Year!

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