Bringing joy for a quarter of a century: The Washington State History Museum hosts the 25th annual Model Train Festival

TACOMA, Wash – For 25 years, the Washington State History Museum has brought families, friends, and train enthusiasts together with its annual Model Train Festival. Train clubs from the region bring their expansive layouts into the museum and set up on every floor of the building, and the cheerful sights and sounds of tiny trains fill the air, mingling with the excited exclamations of visitors. The 25th anniversary Model Train Festival opens on December 17, 2021, and operates through January 2, 2022, 10 AM-5 PM. Note the museum will be closed on December 24 and 25, and will be open on January 1.

“It’s hard to believe we’ve been doing this for a quarter of a century. That’s 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, Washington State Historical Society’s director. “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. The History Museum recommends purchasing tickets in advance, online at Remaining tickets will be available daily on-site, as capacity allows.

Seven train clubs will share their expansive, highly detailed model railroads with guests. The museum’s mascot, Seymour History, will make special appearances (see the museum’s website for Seymour’s schedule). New this year, guests can pick up collectable train club trading cards at each layout (and don’t forget the traditional train festival button!). The popular train-themed green screen photo opportunity, as well as a separate snowy train depot setting, will offer multiple backgrounds for capturing holiday memories with smartphones. The museum’s Great Hall of Washington History includes history about the railroads, and guests can also explore two brand new galleries that opened in 2021, along with the rest of the exhibitions in the museum.

“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

About The Washington State Historical Society:

The Washington State Historical Society partners with our communities to explore how history connects us all. The Society’s most visible activity, the Washington State History Museum (WSHM) is located in downtown Tacoma on Pacific Avenue. The museum features interactive permanent exhibitions about Washington’s past in the Great Hall, unique rotating exhibitions highlighting the Society’s collections, and dynamic feature exhibitions.

Address: 1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98402

Hours: 10:00 AM–5:00 PM Tues.-Sun. On the third Thursday of each month: 10:00 AM-8:00 PM, with free admission from 3:00-8:00 PM.

Admission: Free for members; Adults $14; seniors (age 65+), students (age 6-17) and military (with ID) $11; free for children 5 and under; family rate $40 (up to two adults and four children under age 18). Patrons with a Washington Quest card and licensed Washington Foster Parents can attend for $1 per person or $2 per family.

– Washington State Historical Society