Tis the season for decking the halls, favorite festivities and merrymaking. Here in the Olympia region, we’re all about handcrafting the season of cheer with events and happenings that support locally-owned businesses and artisans, finding magic in small-town traditions and creating memories that don’t involve Black Friday shopping sprees or a Santa Claus photo line that spans a city block.

New this season, Oly on Ice becomes the region’s first ice skating rink and the Washington Center for the Performing Arts hosts a “Greatest Showman Sing-Along.” These festive new happenings join sparkling holiday celebrations, community tree lightings and a “Noon Year’s Eve” for the littles. Check into a cozy hotel or bed and breakfast, find one-of-kind- gifts from a variety of shops, fuel the festivities with artisan coffee, craft beer, wine and spirits, and locally inspired eats and then select your favorites from this curated calendar of holiday events. Holiday plans made! 

Top Holiday Events in Thurston County


  • Greatest Showman Singalong. Channel your inner bearded lady (or insert favorite character here) and sing along to the soundtrack that was basically created for karaoke stars. The Washington Center for the Performing Arts hosts this singalong event on November 25 at 5 p.m. and you won’t want to miss out.
  • Oly on Ice. Lace up the skates and make tracks to the region’s first ice skating rink, open daily November 16 through January 6 (closed Thanksgiving). Featuring special themed evenings like Superhero Night or Fairytale night, you can find the skating rink at Isthmus Park in downtown Olympia. A variety of passes, rentals, and discounts are detailed here. 
  • Go Tree-Hunting on the Farm. Beginning November 23, make like Clark Griswold and head to the country! Chop down the “just-right” tree while you explore the region’s locally owned farms. Under the shadow of Mount Rainier, Hunter Family Farm provides all the trimmings for a new family tradition. At Schilter Family Farm hop on a hayride to find the tree and don’t miss a visit from Santa offered their first three Saturdays they are open.
  • Twinkle Fest and Downtown for the Holidays, Sunday, November 25. Kick off the holiday season at Downtown Olympia’s “Downtown for the Holidays” celebration, a festive tradition that takes place in the heart of the capital city. Festivities include gingerbread houses, wagon and trolley rides, photos with Santa, a parade and a tree-lighting ceremony. Bundle up and stroll downtown for the kick-off of Twinkle Fest, where downtown business reveal elaborate displays that remain throughout the season.
  • 32nd Annual Tenino Tree Lighting, Friday, November 30. An iconic small-town Holiday event, with many of your favorite local characters from about town singing carols along with the Tenino High School Choir/Band. The Tenino Motorcycle Drill team will put on a seasonal display of riding prowess and even Santa will join in the fun.
  • Parade of Lighted Ships, Saturday, December 1. This scenic lighted ship parade begins downtown at Olympia’s Percival Landing ventures out to Boston Harbor and back again. Find a seat at any number of waterfront restaurants or bundle up and watch the bedecked boats from a cozy waterfront vantage point.
  • Yelm Christmas Parade, Saturday, December 1. The kick-off to the Holiday season in Yelm, businesses and locals will be out in force to enjoy this annual parade.
  • Lacey’s Parade of Lights and Christmas Tree Lighting, Monday, December 3. Bundle up and see the lights come to life, along with Santa Claus himself, at this illuminating celebration in Huntamer Park in Lacey. The parade starts at 6:30 p.m. with the tree lighting to follow.
  • Tumwater Christmas Tree Lighting, Saturday, December 8. Get in the spirit of a hometown holiday with the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Festival in Tumwater. Now in its 16th year, this local tradition is held at the Tumwater City Hall and Fire Station complete with games, holiday crafts, performances by local and school choirs and the lighting of the tree. Santa will arrive on an antique fire truck after the ceremonial tree lighting.
  • Noon Year’s Eve at Hands On Children’s Museum, Monday, December 31. Bring the littles for a daytime New Year’s Bash they won’t forget. With a ball drop every hour and activities like Harry Potter wand-making, face painting, dancing, parades and much more, big smiles and an early bedtime are almost guaranteed!

Do it for the "gram" or it never happened! Share your traditions, trees and tasty treats with us by tagging social posts #DecidedlyDifferent and connect with us on FacebookTwitter (@Experience_Oly) and Instagram(@ExperienceOly).

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