The town of Leavenworth is a virtual cornucopia of seasonal festivals, with the common denominator being a strong and proud Bavarian theme.
Located just a couple hours northeast of Seattle, a scenic drive on US Highway 2
ultimately leads you directly into this enchanting town
built on the idea of a schnitzel on every plate, a lederhosen in every closet, and that the melody of oompah bands should fill your heart as your navigate these streets.
Susan and I have been to Leavenworth many times, most recently for the Tree Lighting ceremony, which was one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in years. Mostly because the crowd, in unison, sang Silent Night as a troop of angels brought forth brightly lit stars. Amazing. We have also been out for the ever popular Oktoberfest.
This year we made our way out for the Washington Autumn Leaf Festival.
This festival is not new to Leavenworth – it is actually Leavenworth’s longest-running event. It originated in 1964, the same year that Leavenworth adopted its Bavarian-theme design.
The Festival took place over the course of three days (September 23 through 25). We picked Saturday as our day to attend, because we saw they were having a parade and we love a good parade!
We arrived early and walked around, taking in familiar shopping.
Our first encounter was with the Portland chapter of the Royal Rosarians, who were in the middle of a rose planting ceremony outside City Hall.
From what I can discern from their website, this organization is dedicated to goodwill and community service in and outside of Portland. They love roses and in fact, after planting this particular rose, they said a little prayer. Also, they are snappy dressers. Personally, I feel we need more of this.
We then stopped to listen to some traditional music from the four member band, Alpenfolk. Singing from the town’s gazebo, their songs included some delightful yodeling which Susan and I can’t resist.
Down the street we encountered the Wenatchee Youth Circus, which is made up of kids jumping on a trampoline, balancing on balls while juggling, and balancing on beams. Quite entertaining.
Prior to the parade, we walked down to Icicle Brewing for a beer and to enjoy the people watching.
Icicle is not to be missed in this town, especially as they have recently expanded their outdoor seating and it’s terribly inviting. Of course, so are all their beers on tap and if I remember from a previous visit, their food is quite good as well.
Having secured a perfect spot for the parade hours earlier, we returned to watch the kids parade, which was quite cute and then the start of the main parade. And what a parade it was!
Susan and I have seen many parades, from Bainbridge Island to Sedro Woolley, but this parade really stood out. Not only did it have so many fantastic bands from high schools all over Washington, but also many bands and floats from Canada!
In fact, we have never seen floats like the ones in this parade, which were well designed and decorated and really just a smaller version of what you would see in a major parade like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
As the parade was starting to wrap up, Susan and I, late for our smartly planned lunch reservation, made our way down the street and to our favorite place to eat in town, Bavarian Bistro & Bar.
Thankfully, we had planned ahead and secured a perfect two top from which to watch the conclusion of the parade (which of course closed out with a succession of logging trucks),
and to drink cold beer and delight in German fare.
Susan and I shared a smattering of items. She had been craving the bratwurst and I went for my traditional small plate route, including fried brussel sprouts,
After lunch, we walked the main streets taking in more of the town.
Susan wanted to show me some local goats (that somehow I’ve missed in previous visits) which live in an enclosure just on edge of town.
We said our “hellos” and walked a bit more, ultimately ending up with a craving for some local ice cream prior to our departure. Funny how that is.
We popped over to Das Sweet Shoppe and each got a cone of blackberry ice cream. Yum. This place is amazing and the 20 person-deep line (that surprisingly moves quickly) tells you that everyone agrees. We walked through town a bit more, enjoying our ice cream and then made our way out of town.
As an aside, when the weather is nice, we suggest taking US Highway 2 to enjoy the splendor of the autumn leaves.
To read more about Leavenworth and all the fun this town has to offer, check out the following: