As November rounds out into December, it’s a perfect time to reflect and pause in celebration of the season. In Olympia, the Olympia Downtown Association (ODA) creates space for reflection and gratitude with all things festive and fun at the annual Downtown for the Holidays event. On Sunday, November 27, downtown Olympia will transform into a holiday wonderland.

olympia downtown holidays
Starting with trolley and wagon rides at noon, breaking for a parade at 3:00 p.m., and ending with the tree lighting in Sylvester Park, Downtown for the Holidays has something for everybody. Photo courtesy: Olympia Downtown Association.

Starting with trolley and wagon rides at noon, breaking for a parade at 3:00 p.m., and ending with the tree lighting in Sylvester Park, the day-long event has something for everybody. Gingerbread Village, choral concerts, Olympia Highlanders Pipes and Drum Band, and even photos with Santa give the event a well-rounded holiday experience.

“It’s hard to pick just one favorite activity,” says Kim Combs, event and volunteer coordinator for ODA. “Downtown for the Holidays has a very Normal Rockwell-esque feel. For that reason, the official tree lighting stands out to me. The ODA is very proud that our event brings a wide variety of people together to kick off our holiday season. We see families, business owners, community partners, friends of downtown, youth and church groups, all joined together in one spot to welcome the holidays to Downtown Olympia.”

With so many activities, the streets swell with excitement. Having a plan is a good way to enjoy the events to their fullest. A full schedule can be found here. For those new to the occasion, Combs has a few words of advice.

olympia downtown holidays
Photos with Santa is a Downtown for the Holidays tradition. Photo courtesy: Olympia Downtown Association.

“Downtown for the Holidays is a rain or shine event – come prepared with rain gear,” she suggests. Also, if you have chidlren who will be visiting Santa for photos, remember the lines can take awhile and you may want to bring a snack or distraction while they wait. Also, please note that there will be a break in the Santa visits at about 2:20 p.m. so Santa can join the parade. Visits with Santa will resume when Santa returns from the parade around 4:00 p.m.

The ever-popular horse-drawn wagon and electric trolley rides will be available again and those lines can be long as well, Combs cautions, so remember to get to Sylvester Park early as both rides begin at noon with the final ride boarding around 2:15 p.m.

A new piece to the holiday celebration this year will take place the following Saturday, December 3. In conjunction with the Olympia Yacht Club and their Parade of Lighted Ships, the ODA will ‘Light the Tower’ at the Port Plaza.

Downtown for the Holidays is important for the downtown community and neighboring cities for a few reasons, explains Combs.

olympia downtown holidays
After exploring Gingerbread Village, listening to live festive music, and watching the parade, the day culminates with the Tree Lighting Ceremony at 4:30 p.m. at Sylvester Park. Photo courtesy: Olympia Downtown Association.

“The ODA is here to support the downtown business community,” she says. “One of the ways we do that is by producing family-friendly events such as Downtown for the Holidays, which brings people downtown to eat, shop and stay. As an organization, we are committed to shining light on the positive aspects of our downtown community. When families join us for these events, their presence on our streets, in our stores and in our restaurants, speak volumes about what our downtown community has to offer.”

Combs also acknowledges and gives thanks to all the community partners, donors, and sponsors who make Downtown for the Holidays such a successful event.

For more information and to stay up-to-date on events and participation, follow ODA on Facebook.


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