A birthday party for the ages at Fort Nisqually Living History Museum

Historic Fort Nisqually holds its annual celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday May 19. Photo courtesy of Metro Parks Tacoma

Step back in time to the reign of Queen Victoria and join in the celebrations of her majesty’s birthday on May 19 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Fort Nisqually.

At noon, bagpipes will announce the start of the traditional tributes to the queen, including a musket volley, cannon salute and toasts from the fort’s finely dressed gentlemen. 

At 1 p.m. guests will be treated to a performance by the Chief Leschi Elementary, Puyallup Tribal School Drum and Dance Group. These fourth and fifth graders will share some of their coastal cultural teachings through songs and dances from the Puyallup Tribe. 

The Tacoma Scottish Country Dancers will be on hand to perform traditional 19th-century social dances and teach visitors the steps to favorites like “Strip the Willow.”  

Throughout the day, visitors can barter with clerks in the Sale Shop and watch the blacksmiths working at the forge.  The public is invited to join a round of croquet, trundle a hoop, or engage in a spirited game of graces. There will be tea, lemonade and cookies while supplies last.

The birthday of Queen Victoria (May 24, 1819-1901) was celebrated by her subjects throughout the British Empire. At Hudson’s Bay Company forts across North America, the custom historically called for the declaration of the day as a holiday — all the laborers and servants had the day off. Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837. She ruled for almost 64 years, longer than any other British monarch to date, and was the reigning monarch for most of Fort Nisqually’s active period (1833-1869).

Event admission is $8-$10, children 3 and younger are free. For more information visit fortnisqually.org or call (253) 404-3970.

Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, operated by Metro Parks Tacoma, is a restoration of the Hudson’s Bay Company outpost and headquarters of the Puget Sound Agricultural Company. Visitors travel back in time and experience life in Washington Territory during the 1850s. Nine buildings are open to the public, including the Granary and the Factors House, both National Historic Landmarks, and a Visitor Center with Museum Store.

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