2018 Opening Night Party Highlights
Every February, the Arboretum Foundation kicks off the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival with its annual Opening Night Party & Auction. Guests enjoy a celebratory dinner, dazzling entertainment, silent and live auctions, and an intimate preview of the Garden Festival’s stunning display gardens.
All proceeds will help fund environmental education and critical maintenance at the Washington Park Arboretum.
Highlights from the 2018 Party
More the 350 guests attended our 30th annual Opening Night Party & Auction on February 6, 2018. They helped us raise over $300,000 in support of the Arboretum and Seattle Japanese Garden—making it our most successful fundraiser ever!
The “Winter Garden Carnavale” began with a champagne reception in the South Atrium Lobby of the Washington State Convention Center, followed by a preview of the display gardens in the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival. Many guests got into the spirit of the evening, donning Carnavale masks and costumes.
Stilt-Walkers, Opera Flash Mob, and More
When it was time for dinner and the live auction, stilt-walking performers from Animate Objects led guests on a procession to the dining area in the Skybridge Lobby. As our guests settled into their meals, opera singers dressed as waiters performed a surprise flash-mob rendition of the famous brindisi from Verdi’s La Traviata, in honor of the 30th year of the Garden Festival (see Youtube video below).
Our guest speaker, UW Director of Regional and Community Relations Sally Clark, gave a wonderful speech, paying tribute to two visionaries—Duane Kelly, the founder of the Garden Festival, and Iain Robertson, the designer of the Witt Winter Garden in the Arboretum, which like the Festival, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
An Inspired Raise-the-Paddle
Sally was joined on the podium by our second guest speaker, UW Botanic Gardens’ School-Age Programs Coordinator at the Arboretum, Cait McHugh. Cait inspired the crowd with her personal story and her speech about the importance of connecting children to nature at an early age.
After the speeches, auctioneer Graham Crow led a raise-the-paddle that resulted in more than $140,000 in gifts to the Arboretum—an increase of over $50,000 compared to 2017. At the end of the dinner and auction program, our guests returned to the main exhibit hall for one last look at the display gardens.
2018 Event Partners
Northwest Flower & Garden Festival, Chateau Ste Michelle, Anonymous.
Thanks to our event sponsors for their support of the Arboretum. If you’d like to learn about sponsorship opportunities for Opening Night, please email Tess Forte or call her at 206-325-4510.