What to Do in Washington in December

Markets, festivals, and events get a whole lot merrier this month.

By Allison Williams

The Ghost of Christmas Present lands in Olympia with Harlequin Productions' A Christmas Carol.

Yeah, it's Christmas. Most big festivals and events in December have holiday ties, though not all are explicitly Santa-and-nativity in their presentation. Many markets and events are going full-bore in 2022 after several years of pandemic cutbacks, so there's plenty of jolly to go around.

A Victorian Country Christmas

December 1–4

The Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup pull a Scrooge and go full Dickens-era Christmas with shops and entertainment. Dancers fill two stages throughout the day and Santa does his thing (though he also has a clown in his village, which is an odd combo). Most vendors in the shopping area are local.

Village of Lights

Through February

The town of Leavenworth realized that their old "flip the switch" tradition, illuminating their half-million little lights downtown, just crammed crowds into a narrow section of time. This year they've left the lights on like a suburban dad who fell asleep in front of the football games, and they remain up well into the new year, though Christmastown (carolers, gingerbread houses, Santa) is only through Christmas Eve. Spread the holiday love.

Wintertide Festival of Lights

December 10

The Port Angeles Fine Arts Center puts on an illuminated event in their woodsy back yard, leading a community lantern walk through lit forest paths and doing glow in the dark art. A gift market from local makers is held earlier in the day (both the market and light installations are open all month), and local performers take to the stage.

Tuba Christmas

December 10

The beach town of Ilwaco knows how to party: Just add tubas. The free concert event returns to Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum after a pandemic break and opens with a reading. Christmas carols, meet the polka.

A Christmas Carol

Through December 24

Olympia's hometown theater company, Harlequin Productions, restates the classic tale and never forgets that it's actually a ghost story. It's still open to all ages, however. Select dates are "pay what you choose" so everyone can get a dose of the holidays.

Fairhaven Winterfest

Through December 18

Bellingham's funkiest neighborhood always throws a good holiday party, and in true local style the holiday parade is done on bikes. Firehouse Performing Arts Center screens holiday movies, and lanterns light a half-mile forest stroll on December 3.

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