Leavenworth, a village near the Alpine peaks of Washington state, resembles a quaint Bavarian village. As an homage to its European inspiration, the four seasons are celebrated here with festivals that feature a distinctive Bavarian influence. Since Leavenworth transformed its streets in the mid-20th century, the lineup of its seasonal festivals has expanded into a smorgasbord of exciting events that continue to draw visitors into the town. Aside from the Autumn Leaf Festival, Maifest, Oktoberfest, and the iconic Christmas Lighting Festival, below are just some of the events that Leavenworth hosts every year.
At around mid-January, Leavenworth hosts the Bavarian Icefest where the town is transformed into a winter wonderland with half a million sparkly lights and snow sculptures. Huge festival draws are the “Smooshing Contest,” a dog-sledding competition, and various winter team games. The famous “Smooshing Contest” involves several teams of four people attempting to glide to the finish line. Each team is strapped into a long board, making the attempt more difficult.
As the prime producer of organic Bartlett and Bosc pears, Leavenworth hosts a much-anticipated festival in April which highlights the unique flavors of the fruit. During the month-long festival, there are culinary competitions as well as tasting opportunities for visitors. Local restaurants and establishments showcase their pear-inspired treats, from appetizers, entrees, to cocktails. There are tours as well as live events to complete the gustatorial experience.
One of the more traditional festivals in Leavenworth, Maifest is celebrated in May. Leavenworth transforms into a Bavarian village in springtime complete with a maypole in the center of town. During the Maifest festival weekend, residents in traditional Bavarian clothes participate in a grand parade to welcome the spring season. An alpine horn signals the start of the parade which often includes a procession of decorated wagons and farm animals.
For more than two decades now, Leavenworth has organized an “International Accordion Celebration” at around June. Hosted by the Northwest Accordion Society, the festival features competitions, workshops, and even free lessons. Visitors can also watch performances and concerts by world-class performers and participate in an accordion parade.
While most visitors go to Leavenworth to see a Bavarian village in the U.S., the town offers more than that. At any season of the year, there is something new to discover and enjoy in this corner of the Pacific Northwest. If you’re looking for a place to stay while you attend these festivals, Pine River Ranch offers elegant lodging at their bed and breakfast inn.