Dust off your holiday party outfits and get ready for a triumphant return to form for the 34th annual Festival of Trees from the Skagit Regional Health Foundation. 

The Festival is the largest annual fundraiser for Skagit Regional Health, a medical organization which serves the North Sound through 29 facilities, including hospitals and urgent care clinics. Through fundraising and sponsors (this year’s biggest is People’s Bank), the event typically raises around $450,000, whereas last year’s COVID-friendly Festival raised $242,000. For 2022, the Foundation is campaigning for Skagit Regional Health’s Heart and Vascular Institute. They handle things like angioplasties, pacemaker installation, and arrhythmia management. 

“The funds raised at this event will help us purchase equipment that will allow us to move more patients through the Cardiac Cath Labs more efficiently,” says Director of Skagit Regional Health Foundation Linda Frizzell. “The demand is very high.” 

This year, the Festival of Trees is Northern Lights themed and will mainly be held over Thanksgiving weekend in Burlington. On the first night, Friday, Nov. 25, the Foundation is throwing a gala (black-tie encouraged) and hosting their grand tree auction.  

The Gala opens up at 6 p.m. with a Merry Merry Cocktail Party, where guests will be welcome to grab a complimentary glass of bubbly or beer, snack on delicious hors d’oeuvres from local businesses, and peruse the trees. Each of the 33 trees are decorated to the nines by the Foundation’s design teams and have their own unique themes, from Classic Christmas to Outer Space.  

Once the tree auction begins, guests will also be encouraged to raise their paddle to make donations or bid on exclusive experiences, like destination trips or a night out on the town.  Afterwards, there will be live music from local band Mama Dirty Skirt to keep the party going merry and bright into the evening.  

“It is a time to dress up, from sparkly gowns to tuxedos,” says Festival Coordinator Wendy Ragusa, who is also the Foundation’s Stewardship and Annual Fund Manager. “It’s one of the few events where you can do that in the Valley.” 

If the energy of the live auction isn’t your scene but you’d still like to give, the Festival of Trees has plenty of other options for you! There are wreaths for purchase, multiple raffles, and even a silent auction of artificial mini-trees. 

Of course, that’s all just on the first night! The Festival continues through the weekend, starting with the kid-centric Jolly Gingerbread Jingle Breakfast from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday. About 250 parents and kids can come to meet Santa, have a delicious breakfast, and do fun activities. The rest of the weekend is filled with Family Festival Days festivities including crafts, games, live entertainment, and more. 

After all the fun, the trees will be bundled up and shipped to their new homes, and the funds raised will be put directly to serving and caring for people all over the North Sound region. 

“We’ve been so fortunate to have a number of people share their stories … and they are so proud and grateful that we have the level of care that we do right here,” said Ragusa. “You may not need it now, but it will be here for you.” 

500 Cascade Mall Dr., Burlington, 360.814.5747, skagitregionalhealth.org/foundation