When the 30th annual Festival of Trees opens Friday (Dec. 2), the focus will be entirely on the more than 45 decorated Christmas trees inside the Tacoma convention center.
New this year, Friday’s opening is being called Sensory-Friendly Public Day. Festival organizers opted to forgo live entertainment that day so attendees can take a quiet walk through the trees.
On Saturday and Sunday, there will be live entertainment every half hour.
“With the incredible occupational programs at Mary Bridge, we thought it would be a great way to encourage those families to attend but allow them to have an environment that was more friendly to their needs,” Festival of Trees chairwoman Marquelle Parks Butler said in a news release.
Butler said she had special connection to Sensory-Friendly Day. Her daughter was an occupational therapy patient at Mary Bridge when she was younger, Butler said. Like many children with this disorder, she would have benefited from a quieter public day at festival.
The festival is a fundraiser for Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital. More than $27 million has been raised in the past 29 years for the hospital’s young patients.
Last year, the festival drew more than 15,000 people and raised more than $1.66 million.
Saturday will be highlighted by the Festival of Trees Gala, a black-tie affair during which the trees will be auctioned.
The festival also includes “Tinsel on the Town,” a holiday gala Friday night. Tickets for that event are sold out. Families also can have breakfast with Santa Claus Saturday.
In addition to the trees and entertainment, there will be gift items for sale in the Mary Bridge Brigade Gift Shop.
Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640
Festival of Trees
What: The 30th annual display of decorated Christmas trees benefits children and their families served by Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital.
When: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday (Dec. 2), 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center, 1500 Broadway, Tacoma.
Admission: $6 general, $2 for students ages 13-18, and free for children 12 and younger. Tickets can be purchased at the door.
Breakfast with Santa: Enjoy breakfast and stories with Santa, a special performance of selections from The Nutcracker from the Tacoma City Ballet, and other activities among the trees. 8-10 a.m. Saturday. Tickets are $30, with children younger than 1 admitted free.
Festival of Trees Gala: The gala will be from 6-11 p.m. Saturday, and includes silent and live auctions. Tickets for the black-tie, 21-and-older event are $300.