Ring in the Holidays with The Washington Center


With the arrival of Thanksgiving weekend, most of us “officially” begin the holiday season, and, downtown Olympia is no exception. Concerts, celebrations, special shopping events and community gatherings pepper the calendar throughout the end of November and the entire month of December. In the middle of it all is The Washington Center for the Performing Arts.

The 35-year-old performing arts venue plays host to a wide variety of holiday events and happenings. From local artist displays to hosting local choral groups and dance troupes to holiday traditions anticipated year after year, The Center becomes a hub around which Thurston County residents mingle throughout the holiday season.

The Gingerbread Social, November 26 – 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

The Washington Center kicks off their fun on Saturday, November 26 with the Gingerbread Social benefitting Sidewalk. Be among the first to view the annual Gingerbread Village at this 21+ event including festive drinks and snacks. Bid on the impressive cookie creations at the silent auction where all the donations benefit local non-profit group Sidewalk. DJ Alex Bosi will keep the party hopping. Tickets are $27 and the event is held in the Black Box Theater.

Gingerbread Village Public Viewing, November 27 – Noon – 4:00 p.m.

gingerbread house
Elaborate gingerbread houses will be on display on Sunday, November 27 in the lobby of The Washington Center.

Bring the kids to this daytime viewing of the Gingerbread Village. Last year over 3,500 people visited the creative display. Use the official hashtag #GBV16 to share your photos and share the fun. Last entry to the display is at 3:30 p.m. This free and open event coincides with the Olympia Downtown Association’s Downtown for the Holidays event including live music, Santa, the annual Holiday Parade at 3:00 p.m. and the Sylvester Park Christmas tree lighting at 4:30 p.m. Spend the day in downtown!

Holiday Quilt Exhibit Open House, November 27 – Noon – 3:00 p.m.

Before or after your gingerbread experience, stroll the lobby of The Washington Center and enjoy the incredible work of local quilters in the annual Holiday Quilt Exhibit. The Sew Many Stars quilting group has been crafting and displaying quilts during the holidays for 19 years. The beauty of the textiles is set off by the amazing holiday décor throughout the lobby lovingly decorated each year by Dorrie Carr and her daughter Shelly Thomas. Their Christmas Tree is said to be the most photographed one in the area. Stop for a photo op while you are there. The quilts will be on display through January 13 for patrons to enjoy during shows or by appointment.

Sing-Along Sound of Music, November 27 ­– 5:00 p.m.

The Washington Center
Snow falling outside The Washington Center is a magical holiday memory.

The hills are alive each year during this beloved annual event. Gather your family and head to the theater to finish off your holiday weekend with this beloved classic film. Tickets range from $11 – $22. Audience participation is encouraged by the evening’s host, Lauren O’Neill, and attendees will receive a goodie bag along with a holiday memory that will last.

Sisters Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold, December 1 – 7:30 p.m.

Combine the Christmas story, nuns and a CSI style who-dunnit mystery and you get this fantastic holiday event for the whole family. In a hilarious retelling of the nativity, Sister seeks to solve the mystery of where in the world is the Magi’s gold, missing from the stable in Bethlehem. Tickets range from $13 – $42 for this all-ages show.

SOGO’s Community Sing-Along Messiah, December 19 – 7:00 p.m.

sing-along messiah
Guest soloists and conductors participate along with SOGO and community musicians at the sing-along Messiah at The Washington Center.

Handel’s masterpiece is presented for free to the community in this annual holiday concert. Soloists, guest conductors and the audience as the choir all make this musical event uniquely Olympia. SOGO’s talented student musicians are the featured performers as they share favorite selections from the timeless work. Introduce your children to this classic, or relive it’s beauty yourself.

It’s Snowing!!

There is nothing quite as magical as the season’s first snow. And, around here, we might wait all year for it to happen. However, starting November 26, snow will fall outside The Washington Center one hour before every performance. I can still remember the delight in the eyes of my then 5-year-old daughter when she arrived for her first Nutcracker only to find snow gently falling. Twirling ensued immediately. Individuals and businesses who would like to be a part of the magic are encouraged to “Sponsor a Snowfall.” For just $100 per performance, you can be a part of the magic of the holidays.

The Nutcracker Ballet

Catch a performance of The Nutcracker at The Washington Center in December. Photo courtesy: Ballet Northwest.
Catch a performance of The Nutcracker in December. Photo courtesy: Studio West Dance Theater.

The Washington Center and the Kenneth J. Minnaert Center mainstages are the venue for two equally magical performances of The Nutcracker ballet held December 9 through 18.

  • Studio West Dance Theatre’s The Nutcracker is held on the SPSCC campus theater. Specific performance times and dates can be found online including information on their Winter Wonderland Nutcracker party before the show where the youngest visitors (age 4 and up) can meet the characters, enjoy crafts and snowflake cupcakes.
  • Ballet Northwest’s Nutcracker graces The Washington Center mainstage with stunning costumes and dramatic sets. A variety of daytime and evening shows can be found online here.

Give the Gift of the Arts

What better to find in your stocking on Christmas morning than tickets to The Washington Center? With so many varied, engaging shows, there is something for every taste. Support this local arts venue, and non-profit organization, with a purchase of tickets for a specific 2017 show you know your loved one will enjoy or purchase a gift certificate so they can choose their own. Looking to give back? Become one of the many FRIENDS of the Center with a charitable donation.

washington center olympia
The Washington Center, located in downtown Olympia, is the place to go to enjoy regional, national and international arts.

Hop online for a full list of the happenings at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts this season.

The Washington Center for the Performing Arts
512 Washington St. SE, Olympia


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