Washington State History Museum hosts 25th annual Model Train Festival

For 25 years, the Washington State History Museum has been bringing families, friends, and train enthusiasts together for an annual model train festival. Train clubs from the region bring their large layouts into the museum and set up on every floor of the building, and the festive sights and sounds of tiny trains mingles with the excited exclamations of visitors. The festival opens on Friday December 17, 2021, and operates daily from 10 AM-5 PM through January 2, 2022. The museum is closed on December 24 and 25, but open on January 1. 

“It’s hard to believe we’ve been doing this for a quarter of a century, and that is a testament to the joy that the model train festival generates. We have folks who came as children and are now bringing their own kids, and those who came as parents and are now back as grandparents, seeing the trains anew through the eyes of the youngest generation,” said Jennifer Kilmer, Director of Washington State Historical Society. “The only year we missed was 2020 due to the COVID pandemic. We are incredibly grateful to bring this event back to the community this year to share some light and happiness,” she added. 

One change for 2021 is timed ticketing. Building capacity is limited to support physical distancing recommendations. WSHS members get free admission, and a members-only night will be held on December 18. General admission visitors can enjoy the event at regular museum rates. Tickets can be purchased in advance online at www.ModelTrainFestival.org. Remaining tickets will be available daily on-site, as capacity allows. 

Seven train clubs will share their expansive model railroads with guests. The museum’s mascot, Seymour History, will make special appearances (see www.ModelTrainFesitval.org for schedule). Collectable train club trading cards and the annual festival button will be offered to visitors. The popular train-themed green screen photo opportunity along with a snowy train depot setting offer multiple backgrounds for holiday photos. The museum’s Great Hall of Washington History includes history about the railroads, and guests can explore two brand new galleries that opened earlier this year.

“There’s something magical and nostalgic about trains that resonates with a great number of people. The annual Model Train Festival is a tradition our community really looks forward to, and this 25th anniversary feels extra special. We look forward to welcoming everyone,” said Julianna Verboort, the Historical Society’s marketing and communications director. 

Get all the details and book tickets for this event at ModelTrainFestival.org