Leavenworth, Washington is a charming Bavarian Village known for delightful specialty shops, numerous choices for cozy accommodations, and an active calendar offering a year-round schedule of festivals, music and live theater. Perhaps the most popular of the events is the Christmas Lighting and Ice Fest. The quaint, Bavarian theme is very at home against the breathtaking backdrop of Washington State's steep, snowy Cascade Mountains soaring thousands of feet above.
As you wander past the Bavarian architecture, imbibe the Germanic fare and browse through the many inviting specialty shops, you are enjoying the fruits of a well-laid plan.
Leavenworth is the inspiring story of a Washington town that reinvented itself. With the loss of its railway and timber industries, Leavenworth was a town in slow decline. In the early 1960s, it took the brave and determined decision to invest in tourism for its future.
Inspired by the resemblance of the surrounding countryside to Bavarian Germany, with its mountain wilderness and rolling meadows, Leavenworth was remodeled as a Bavarian alpine village. Such was the town's commitment to the project that the Bavarian theme was carefully researched, architects were hired (notably Heintz Ulbricht), building codes were changed and townspeople took to learning about the German culture.
Der Markt Platz (Front and 8th streets) has daily showings of a 30-minute film which tells this story. Projekt Bayern continues to develop the Bavarian vision. Such is the success of the project that nowadays not just tourists are attracted to the area, but also many people of direct German, Austrian and Norwegian descent have been drawn to Leavenworth as their new home.
Leavenworth, originally known as Icicle, was renamed after Captain Charles Leavenworth, president of the Okanagon Investment Company (one of the first commercial developers in this area of Washington), and a stockholder in the Great Northern Railway.