Three Events Celebrate the Holidays and Northwest History on December 9

Three carolers in period clothing sing Christmas carols from a book.
The Madrigal Singers will sing historic Christmas carols at Fort Vancouver on December 9.

Photo by Steve Young

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News Release Date: November 21, 2017

Contact: Bobby Gutierrez, Park Ranger (Christmas at Fort Vancouver), (360) 816-6247

Contact: Theresa Langford, Curator (The River People exhibit), (360) 816-6252

Contact: Mary Rose, Friends of Fort Vancouver (Celebration of Birds), (360) 816-6216

The National Park Service is pleased to announce three events for Saturday, December 9: Christmas at Fort Vancouver, a Celebration of Birds, and the opening of a new exhibit at the Visitor Center.

This season’s Christmas at Fort Vancouver event will take place on Saturday, December 9, 2017 from 10 am to 3 pm. At the reconstructed Fort Vancouver, costumed volunteers will portray the sights and sounds of an 1840s fur trade Christmas and New Year’s Day. This holiday was one of the few times a year that the Hudson’s Bay Company granted leave to all employees. Many spent this respite outdoors hunting or fishing, and all would celebrate together by dining and dancing in the fort. Learn more about the history of the holidays at Fort Vancouver here.


Visitors will hear caroling by the Madrigal Singers as they enjoy free, warm holiday wassail, games, music, demonstrations, and dancing. There will be several ongoing Victorian-era craft activities, with the park providing materials for visitors to make wooden toy tops, wreaths, and potpourri ornaments. Regular entrance fees to the fort will apply (see below).


“This holiday event continues to increase in popularity. Families often share with us that making Victorian crafts here has become a holiday tradition,” said the national park's superintendent, Tracy Fortmann.


“You would be hard pressed to find a more personal holiday gift than something that has been made by hand,” added Park Ranger Bobby Gutierrez.


During the same time frame, two free events will be held at the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center. From 10 am to 3 pm, celebrate our feathered friends! A Celebration of Birds will feature special activities for children, including building a wooden bird house (limited quantities, supplied by The Home Depot) and making a pinecone bird feeder. Visitors may enjoy a cup of hot cider and shop for unique holiday gifts at the Friends of Fort Vancouver Gift Shop as well.


At 2 pm, The River People exhibit featuring work by guest artist Pat Courtney Gold will open at the Visitor Center. Pat is a renowned American Indian artist of the Wasco Nation who has been instrumental in reviving traditional arts, and specializes in baskets, sally bags, woven wall hangings, and quilts. Her work is in collections at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, the Peabody Museum, the Burke Museum, the Portland Art Museum, the British Museum, and the Royal British Columbia Museum. More than a dozen of her pieces will be on display at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site through the spring of 2018. The opening of the exhibit will include a talk by the artist, as well as a short documentary film highlighting her work.


Christmas at Fort Vancouver Schedule of Events

The activities listed below will take place at the reconstructed Fort (1001 East Fifth Street, Vancouver, WA)


10 am: 19th Century Weapons Demonstration


10 am - 3 pm: Ongoing hands-on activities (while supplies last):


  • Build your own toy top
  • Taste apple wassail
  • Craft your own holiday wreath
  • Make your own Victorian handcraft
  • Gather 'round for a winter story
  • Play games of the 1840s
  • Pose for a holiday photo with costumed reenactors
  • Visit the Historic Kitchen and watch a cooking demonstration
  • Visit the Blacksmith Shop and talk with volunteers demonstrating the lost art of blacksmithing


10 am - 12 pm: Christmas caroling by the Madrigal Singers


12 pm: 19th Century Weapons Demonstration


1 pm - 3 pm: Learn a holiday jig and sing along to carols! Participatory music and dancing in the Counting House


2 pm: 19th Century Weapons Demonstration



Cost: Admission to Christmas at Fort Vancouver at the reconstructed fort site is $5 per adult. Individuals age 15 years and younger, visitors with one of the America the Beautiful Interagency Passes, or visitors with an Every Kid in the Park pass are free. Events at the Visitor Center are free.


When: Saturday, December 9, 2017. 10 AM - 3 PM


Where: Reconstructed Fort at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site (1001 East Fifth Street, Vancouver, WA), Visitor Center & Bookstore (1501 East Evergreen Boulevard, Vancouver, WA).

Last updated: December 6, 2017

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Mailing Address:

612 E Reserve St
Vancouver , WA 98661


(360) 816-6230

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