Get Your Holiday Tree in the Christmas Tree Capital of the World!

By Rachel Hansen

If you don’t like Hallmark movies, stay away from Christmastown, aka Shelton, next weekend as the holiday spirit is alive and well here this week as volunteers deck the downtown streets and prepare for the big seasonal kick-off, Holiday Magic, December 2-3.

In the wake of Hood Canal's timber boom, it was discovered that the glacial till left after the fjord was carved was ideal ground for growing Douglas Fir trees. During the 1950s and 1960s, the area annually harvested several million, earning it the title of "Christmas Tree Capital of the World."

Many families head to local farms each year to select their favorite and enjoy holiday activities like hayrides, petting zoos and visits with Santa. There’s hardly anything that’s more quintessentially Christmas than decorating a handpicked Pacific Northwest Christmas tree and gathering your family around a tree that you brought home together from Hood Canal. Want to start a new tradition? Olympic Forest Permits are $5.00 each and are good for one U-cut tree on the Olympic National Forest. Find your tree here:

Guinness Record Win for Largest Lit Christmas Tree Display

In December 2019 Shelton celebrated their timber heritage and took Christmas head on and confirmed their Christmastown distinction with a successful attempt at the Guinness World Record for “Most Lit Christmas Trees” in one location. The previous record was set by the Hallmark Channel in 2015 (559 trees). Shelton’s win was recorded during the annual Santa Claus parade with a total of 797 qualified trees. The trees were arranged in a lighted maze that families could explore.

This year, Christmastown is once again presenting a series of holiday activities. Friday, the Christmas Tree Maze officially opens. The maze is a tribute to Shelton and Mason County’s Guinness World Record win. The record qualified 797 trees which beat the Hallmark Channel’s previous record of just under 600. This year the maze can be found on the corner of Grove and 5th, next to the Shelton Police Station. The free lighted maze is open every evening in December from dusk until 10 PM. Check the schedule at for a list of participating non-profits that are “fundrazing” at the maze and stop by to enjoy their additional activities.The maze is best viewed at night with thousands upon thousands of lights that make every festive family picture twinkle.

Christmastown Market & FREE Holiday Activities

On the first two weekends in December, Christmastown will also feature an indoor Christmas market, with live crafting sessions, wreath and cookie workshops, live music, gingerbread challenge and cocoa and cookie wagon rides to view the lights. The wagon will feature four sitting areas for families and include music and a tour of the downtown lights. Dress warmly, bring your own blanket or purchase a souvenir fleece blanket with your dinner tickets. 

Decorating cookies at the Christmas market.

Get creative with festive decorating!

Travel down Railroad Avenue for a spectacular display of Christmas cheer. Retro decorations and lights line the shopfronts, with cafe lights swooping across the street as you spy the giant Christmas tree in Post Office Park. Nearby, don't forget to get a family picture with the historic caboose and engine decked with lights and garland.

The Shelton Downtown Merchants are also hosting a new event this year, an interactive photo hunt. Teams can register by posting a photo and their team’s name by the morning of the event on December 2nd. Clues will be released Friday morning on the Shelton Downtown Merchants Photo Hunt group page. Find all the spots, take your necessary selfie photos with your team, and have fun! Contestants will be entered to win a $100 Visa Gift Card by creating a post with the images you found before the deadline.

December 2 at 4 PM, head to the Shelton Cinema for a holiday movie (free with food donation). This year's selection is Polar Express. Shelton Downtown Merchants invite you to shop local with a rewards card valid during Christmastown week, December 2-11. Shop at participating businesses and when your card is full – enter to win a basket of local goodies.

As dusk falls Friday, Second Street will be closed for the return of the annual tree lighting in Post Office Park and the Kristmas Town Kiwanis' Christmas block party! Enjoy marshmallow roasting, kiddie train and wagon rides, craft activities as well as caroling karaoke. Get family photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus when they make a special appearance at the event.

This year's parade will feature stationary floats that visitors walk by.

Forest Festival royalty spreading Christmas cheer.

On Saturday, December 3 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, visitors to Shelton are invited to enjoy a reverse parade. What's that? Instead of the floats traveling down Railroad Ave, spectators walk by the stationary floats in the center of Railroad and performers are positioned along the route. Families can enjoy the parade displays, street bonfires, music, kiddie train rides, crafting and yet another visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Last year was the first year for the stationary exhibits viewed by spectators who did the parading instead of the floats. Although many were wary of the change in 2021 it received a lot of favorable response as families were able to spend more time with each exhibit and engage in many of the activities hosted by each display. The light displays were spectacular, and the dancing horse was a big hit!

Discover Your Fjord Spirit

Mason County is proud of its timber town Christmastown heritage – but they are even more crazy about the dramatic water views, majestic mountain backgrounds, unmatched tranquility, and boundless outdoor activities. Fjord spirit abounds from the solitude of a beach cabin, the gathering of your annual tree to the festivities of each community around the Canal. Check out this handy list of Christmas events.

Close to the Olympic National Forest and the awe inspiring Hamma Hamma River recreational area, Lilliwaup is the perfect place to recharge your inner spirit. With the rise of short-term rentals this area is diverse in its lodging opportunities. Stay in small intimate cabins on the beach or put down roots in a historic homestead, rich with pioneering character but updated with all the modern amenities and space for the whole family to roam. While lodging is scarce during the summer months—winter is the ideal time to select your first choice and at a great rate. Did we mention that this is also the home of world famous Hama Hama Oyster Farm where you can always pair a cold beer with a plate of fresh grilled oysters?

Farther south, Hoodsport has quaint gift shops, restaurants, two wineries, an award-winning distillery, and a newly opened coffee and hot chocolate hangout and welcome center, The Fjord Oyster Bank. Nearby Lake Cushman is prolific with destination cabins that dreams are made of—some with kayaks for guests to explore further on the lake. With access to the Staircase Entrance to the Olympic National Park, this is a great place to be inspired. In Hoodsport stop by the Visitor Information Center to pick up your $5 National Forest Christmas Tree permit. What better way to start a new family tradition?