Love trains? Then you’ll love the fact that the annual Model Train Festival, back for the 17th time at the Washington State History Museum these holidays, is staying for a whopping 11 days, due to popular demand. The largest working model train layout in the state opens this Friday and will remain until New Year’s Day, with visits by Santa, hands-on attractions and more.
“Model trains and the holiday season seem to go hand-in-hand, and this annual festival continues to be one of our major attractions year after year,” said Jennifer Kilmer, director of the Washington State Historical Society. “It’s also a great opportunity to look at how impactful the golden age of railroads was to the growth and development of Washington State.”
Taking over every floor of the museum, these model trains are lovingly assembled by hobbyists who spend most free hours building, painting, buying and rearranging their miniature tracks, engines, carriages and landscapes. Helping this year are the Boeing Employees Model Railroad Club, the Pierce County Lionel Club, Mount Rainier N-Scale, and Puget Sound Model Railroad Engineers, among others.
Interactive features in clued the Operation Lifesaver, which simulates the time it takes to stop a real train in an emergency, the Cannonball Express where visitors can build and play with sets themselves, and Santa Claus himself from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 21-23. Train movies will play every day in the History Lab, and entrants and winners in the annual LEGO Train Design Competition will be displayed Dec. 19-20.
Exhibit hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Wednesday – Sunday, with extended hours and free admission every third Thursday, 2 – 8 p.m. from Dec. 21-Jan. 1. Closed Christmas Day. $9.50 adults/$7 seniors/$7 students and military/free for five and under. 1911 Pacific Ave., Tacoma. 253-272-3500, washingtonhistory.org