Liberty Hall hosts Festival of Trees this week, but online viewing options also available

photo by: John Young

In this file photo from Nov. 29, 2015, Lawrence resident Nilou Vakil puts the finishing touches on a tree for the annual Festival of Trees at Liberty Hall.

Over 30 trees and 25 wreaths will be on display in Liberty Hall this year as part of the annual Festival of Trees fundraiser.

The holiday decorations — which include sugar plum, Candyland, and Grinch-themed trees — will be on display Monday through Sunday both in-person and online. The Festival of Trees is a fundraiser for The Children’s Shelter, a nonprofit that provides temporary residential care, foster care placement and other services for at-risk children.

Maren Ludwig, the event organizer, said special care is being taken to ensure the safety of visitors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To view the trees and wreaths in-person at Liberty Hall, 644 Massachusetts St., people must sign up for a slot in advance at For those who would prefer to view the trees from home, Ludwig said a video showing all the homemade trees should be on that website Tuesday.

To see the trees in person or to view the video, there is a suggested donation of $5. Children under the age of 12 can view the trees for free. All the trees and wreaths are decorated and donated by locals, and Ludwig said there are more wreaths this year because some groups that previously made trees together opted to do individual wreaths instead.

This year, there is a cactus-themed tree, a Scandinavian-themed tree and a Victorian garden-fencing tree made by local artist Nick Schmiedeler, among others.

Instead of an in-person auction, The Children’s Shelter is running an online auction that is also available at Bidding will start Monday around noon and will continue until Friday at 8 p.m. The trees and wreaths will start to be delivered to the highest bidders after the viewing hours conclude on Sunday.

The Festival of Trees typically includes a cookies with Santa event. This year, Santa will be making an appearance on Monday and Tuesday nights, but from a distance. Santa will be waving down at children from the balcony of Liberty Hall from 5 to 7 p.m. both nights. Kids are encouraged to write a letter to Santa. To receive a letter back from Santa, a $5 donation is encouraged.

Here’s a complete schedule of the viewing hours:

Monday through Thursday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sunday: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


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