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Annual Bellingham and Whatcom County Events

Annual events in Bellingham and Whatcom County typically begin on New Year’s Day in January and continue through New Year’s Eve in December. These fun activities range from festivals and garden shows to parades and art walks.

Get an idea of the kinds of things that happen in Whatcom County, and then check the events calendar to learn more details about scheduled events! 

Polar Bear Plunge at Birch Bay

This annual Birch Bay ritual draws hundreds of participants and onlookers each year. The Polar Bear Plunge is becoming a destination spot for the holiday. Participants come from as far away as Germany, Tokyo, Chicago, and British Columbia to plunge into the bay’s chilly water. 

Padden Polar Dip & Resolution Run

Celebrate New Year’s Day with a quick chilly dip in the swim area at Lake Padden, then enjoy some coffee and hot cocoa to help everyone stay warm.  Before the Dip join us for the Resolution Run-Walk around beautiful Lake Padden (2.6-mile loop). 

Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

This 10-day film festival features 20 documentary films shown for free admission in February with post-screening discussions led by the filmmaker and/or local people who are involved with the issues raised by the films.  Opening night is held at the Pickford Film Center and showings continue for the next nine days at Fairhaven College Auditorium and other venues in Whatcom County.  This film festival has been recognized by “Audience Awards” as one of nine “film festivals that make a difference in the U.S.”

Bellingham Cocktail Week

Bellingham Cocktail Week is a community-wide celebration that unites talented humans, fine spirits, and fresh products to create delicious handcrafted cocktails showcasing the best our region has to offer. What began as a small, downtown-focused event in 2015 has steadily grown into a city-wide affair encompassing all of our unique neighborhoods. Together, businesses of all stripes have joined forces with a shared objective to establish Bellingham as a must-visit cocktail destination!

Whatcom Cultural Arts Festival

Kicking off after the Historic Fairhaven Fourth Friday, Allied Arts’ Whatcom Cultural Art Festival is two-day celebration of Whatcom County’s arts, music, performances and food. Learn about the diverse cultural communities in Whatcom county while promoting and supporting cultural diversity.

Whatcom County Home and Garden Show

The largest home show north of Seattle and it’s in Lynden! Come see the biggest and best display of products for your home and garden in Northwest Washington. With over 200 vendors there is something for everyone.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Bellingham’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a “green” parade to honor our police and fire departments. Featuring the grand marshal, dancers, pipe and marching bands, plus human- and green-powered floats. All are welcome. 

Spring Craft & Antique Show

Welcome spring with over 100 of the Northwest’s finest artisans selling handcrafted gifts, home decor, garden and vintage treasures. Creativity and inspiration abound in Lynden with live entertainment.

Wings Over Water: Northwest Washington Birding Festival

The Wings Over Water Birding Festival in Blaine celebrates the incredible variety of migratory birds, which flock to Drayton Harbor and Semiahmoo Bay each winter and spring. Visit the festival for a day-long birding expo with free activities for the whole family, including wildlife demonstrations, bird viewing stations, exhibits, displays, craft vendors and more. For a small fee, wildlife cruises of Drayton Harbor are available on the MV Plover Ferry. 

Dirty Dan Day Seafood Festival

Fairhaven’s annual celebration of seafood and community founder Dirty Dan Harris! Food and games, live music, fish fillet contest, salmon toss, cupcake eating contest, toy boat building, interactive fish art, 1800’s dress up, cooking demos, chili cook-off, and the world’s only piano race!

April Brew’s Day

Join local and regional brewers as they share their micro-brews for a fundraising event benefiting the Max Higbee Center, a nonprofit agency that provides recreational opportunities for teens and adults with developmental disabilities. Admission includes a collectible tasting glass and tickets for tasting beer. Local talent by various bands will be there, as well as food from some of Bellingham’s finest food trucks.

Bellingham Beer Week

Bellingham loves beer so much that there’s a whole week dedicated to our local brewers. Bellingham Beer Week began in September 2012 and has recently changed to occur in April with a like-minded group of publicans, craft brewers, and supporters of great beers from Bellingham’s Tap Trail. Previously, Bellingham’s many craft breweries and pubs (Chuckanut, Boundary Bay, Kulshan, K2, Aslan, Wander, Structures, Menace, Stones Throw, Elizabeth Station and McKays Taphouse) plan to participate, as well as numerous beer pubs, restaurants, and supporting businesses.

Recreation Northwest Expo

Check out the best and the brightest in local and regional outdoor recreation. Hear captivating speakers. Meet face-to-face with health professionals, nutrition experts, local gyms, personal trainers, bike shops, running stores, paddling outfitters, outdoor media, outdoor activity clubs, stewardship organizations and representatives from your favorite local recreation events and races. 

Procession of the Species Parade

The Procession of the Species is a joyous, spontaneous artistic pageant where community members celebrate their relationships with each other and with the natural world.

WWU Alumni Weekend

The WWU Alumni Weekend (formerly known as Back2Bellingham) is a Western Washington University alumni event filled with over 100 offerings that provide opportunities to reconnect with classmates, friends, faculty, staff, and students while taking advantage of diverse activities designed to help you reconnect with Western. The weekend is also a great time to share your Western Experience and the fun of the weekend with your family.

Bellingham Technical College Welding Rodeo

The Welding Rodeo features an array of industry vendor booths, forged items, public welding opportunities and the up-close-and-personal view of welding and art in action.  Friday showcases 10 amateur or high school/college level teams, and Saturday showcases 10 professional-level teams competing for prizes and cash over eight hours. The public is invited both days.

Ski to Sea Race & Fairhaven Festival

Bellingham’s annual Ski to Sea Race is a 93.5-mile, 8-person relay encompassing seven different sports from the snowfields of Mount Baker, down Highway 542 and the Nooksack River and across Bellingham Bay via downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, running, canoeing, bike riding and kayaking. The Fairhaven Festival is near the Ski to Sea race finish line, with live music on two stages, food and crafts booths, beer garden and more. Ski to Sea attracts not only high-caliber athletes, but teams seeking non-competitive adventure and fun.

The Ski to Sea Race is held on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend every year. The Ski to Sea Junior Race is the weekend prior to Memorial Day weekend with the Ski to Sea Junior Parade is the evening before. The Ski to Sea Blossomtime Parade is held Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, as is the Ski to Sea Block Party at Boundary Bay Brewery. The Fairhaven Festival is held near the finish line, during the Ski to Race on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. 

Lynden Farmers Day Parade

The Farmers Day Parade is a long-standing tradition honoring the economic and social impact of the agriculture industry on the community of Lynden and its surrounding area. A parade different from many others, the Farmers Day Parade is filled with commercial, agricultural, organizational and lots of community entries. Only in Lynden can you see a procession of tractors, animals, antique cars and trucks with traditional floats, bands and a variety of children’s entries.

Lummi Stommish Water Festival – Lummi Nation

The Lummi Stommish Water Festival began back in 1946 when World War II veterans were coming home and Lummi World War I veterans decided to gather in celebration of their safe return. Stommish is a Cowichan word meaning “warrior,” and it has become an internationally renowned gathering, which includes the “War Canoe races,” a “Sla-hal Bone Game” tournament, and an “Honoring All Veterans” Pow Wow. Stommish is a multi-cultural contemporary Coast Salish gathering which includes fun and enjoyment for the whole family. This annual event features athletic events, traditional singing and dancing, a traditional Lummi-Style salmon barbeque, a carnival and a moonlight concert series featuring Native comedians and local musicians all throughout the weekend. Admission is free and Stommish is open to the public.

Deming Logging Show

The Deming Log Show features 31 events and exhibitions demonstrating the talents and strengths of local loggers. Don’t miss axe throwing, speed climbing, log rolling, chainsaw bucking and the ironman. 

Padden Triathlon

The Padden Triathlon is an excellent first, second or twenty-second triathlon. Short Course and Long Course available with relay teams welcome. Athena and Clydesdale divisions now offered. Registration capped at 325 entrants per race.

Bellingham SwimRun

Discovered by the Swedes in 2006, they called it SwimRun, because you swim and run, swim and run, swim and run. Utilizing Lake Padden and the beautiful forested trails that surround the lake, Bellingham SwimRun participants are treated to an inspiring and challenging course. You have your choice of the 15 km sprint length event (yes in the world of SwimRun, 15 km is seen as a sprint), or the user friendly 5 km super sprint.

Kulshan Quest Adventure Racing

Explore the NW corner of Washington State as only an adventure race can offer. Find adventure, challenge, and beauty in our 3-hour and 12-hour races.

Bellingham Festival of Music

Under the direction of maestro Michael Palmer, the Bellingham Festival Orchestra brings together principal players from major American and European orchestras and exceptional musicians from regional and national ensembles to present concerts of classical music at the highest caliber of artistic excellence.

Bellingham’s Haggen Family 4th of July Celebration

Each year, the Port of Bellingham partners with Haggen Food and Pharmacy and the Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce to put on the Haggen Family Fourth of July Festival at Zuanich Point Park. Festivities run from 1:00 pm to 10:00 pm, ending with an evening fireworks show over Bellingham Bay at around 10:30 pm. Activities include art and photo display in the Squalicum Boathouse, arts and crafts, beer garden, kids zone, live music and vendors for food.

Blaine’s Old Fashioned 4th Festival & Street Fair

Come to spend the day celebrating the 4th of July in Blaine with day-long activities that include a pancake breakfast, a parade at noon, an art and crafts fair with over 80 vendors, a show and shine, live entertainment, and plenty of good food.

Fourth of July with Semiahmoo, Golf and Spa

Join the special celebration on the 4th of July, complete with family-friendly beachside activities including lawn games, arts and crafts, face painting, plus live music and our Seaside Sizzle, the ultimate beach barbecue experience. At nightfall, turn your eyes across the way and enjoy the fireworks put on by the City of Blaine.

Downtown Sounds

Downtown Sounds is a series of free outdoor concerts for the entire family to enjoy. The event is celebrated in the Arts District of Bellingham, on the 1300 block of Bay Street. Each night will feature performances from popular bands and music from various genres, local food vendors, and a 21+ beverage garden. 

Bellingham Pride

The Bellingham Pride Parade began in 1999 with just a half-dozen picnic tables at Fairhaven Park. Today, the festivities have grown and Bellingham Pride is now the second largest pride event in Washington State. The parade starts at Ohio Street and travels south on Cornwall Avenue heading towards Railroad Avenue in Downtown Bellingham. The festival takes place at Depot Market Square with live music, food, vendors and more.

Everson – Nooksack Summer Festival

The three-day Everson-Nooksack Summer Festival is a community-wide celebration that takes place at the beginning of July. Fun activities include 3-on-3 basketball, vendors in the park, kids carnival games, a softball tournament, horseshoes tournament, barbeque, pancake breakfast, fun run and dance.

Northwest Raspberry Festival

July is National Raspberry Month and at the peak of the summer harvest season, Lynden hosts the Northwest Raspberry Festival, filled with delicious family-friendly fun!  Savor fresh raspberry sundaes on locally-produced ice cream, listen to live jazz, sidewalk shop and taste in downtown Lynden. Kids’ activities include inflatable games, face painting, a Rookies 3-on-3 basketball tournament, and Very Berry Storytime at the Lynden Library.  Annual Curt Maberry Memorial Classic 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament.  Raspberry pancake breakfast at the Lynden Community Center, followed by a 5K fun run/walk, Razz & Shine car show, and wine tasting at Samson Estates located on a working raspberry farm.

Tour De Whatcom

Enjoy all the NW has to offer in one beautiful ride: Mt. Baker, Lake Whatcom, valleys, rivers, lush farmland, beaches and the Puget Sound. Rides vary from 22 to 100 miles – you’ll find a great ride for every member of the family on this supported ride which features rest stops benefiting local charities and an After Party at Boundary Bay Brewery.

Ferndale Old Settler’s Picnic

Pioneer Park is the spotlight of this annual community celebration in Ferndale, occurring the last weekend of July. Ferndale Heritage Society volunteers open the park’s historic cabins for public viewing. The overall event is organized by the Old Settler’s Association. It includes a parade, baseball tournaments, crafts, food vendors, a talent show, musical entertainment, nonprofit expo, flower show and beer garden. It is the longest continually running annual picnic in the state.

Lake Whatcom Triathlon

This is how Bellingham does Olympic-Distance triathlon. The event welcomes beginner to elite athletes in individual and relay divisions. TRI Bellingham! New for 2019: Individual Sprint Course, Aquabike and Youth Splash & Dash.

Drayton Harbor Days

Kids games, crafts, scavenger hunt, the “Prestigious George Raft Race”, pirate costume judging contest, arts, crafts & food vendors, vintage steamboats and much more!

Puget Sound Antique Tractor Show & Pull

Learn how farming was done in the good old days. This annual threshing bee and tractor show is held at Berthusen Park and includes threshing demonstrations, antique tractors and parades daily, steam-powered sawmill demonstrations, antique and tractor pulls and more. 

Northwest Washington Fair

The Northwest Washington Fair is a six-day event located in Lynden, WA. Highlights include local ice cream by the Whatcom County Dairy Women, draft horse competitions, livestock judging, food and craft displays, a demolition derby and nightly entertainment in the grandstands.

Chuckanut Classic

Chuckanut Classic (formerly know as Chuckanut Century) is hosted every each year by the Mt Baker Bicycle Club. There are distance options including 25, 50, 62, 100, and the double-metric century of 124 miles. All versions begin at Boundary Bay Brewery in downtown Bellingham. Riders may then choose to travel either north to Birch Bay or south along scenic Chuckanut Drive past Samish Bay and Padilla Bay.

Birch Bay Days and Crab Festival

Birch Bay Discovery Days is a great weekend for the entire family. Fun activities abound with a grand parade down Birch Bay Drive, arts and crafts fair (Saturday & Sunday) and a variety of food vendors. There’s plenty of more to do this day; kite flying on the beach, clamming, wakeboarding and lots of family fun.

Whatcom County Farm Tour

Whatcom County Farm Tour is an annual event where over a dozen farms around Whatcom County open their doors to the public. The farm tour is a festive day of fresh flavors and local food explorations. See the bounty of Whatcom County on this free, family-friendly self-guided tour. Enjoy a leisurely strolls through fields and orchards, exciting interactive activities and the chance to discover the roots of abundant food grown in Northwest Washington. Choose a favorite few stops or be ambitious and hit them all. Held the second Saturday of September and organized by Sustainable Connections.

Bellingham Traverse

The Traverse is a multi-sport event for solo, tandem and relay teams. The event has a strong salmon theme running through it. Participants, aka spawners, are encouraged to “think like fish” as they go through the course. This is a community event that displays a wide range of athletic abilities from the hard-core to those out in costumes just for fun. The public is encouraged to come out and cheer on the spawners. The event starts at noon at the Bellingham Farmers Market and makes its way through Boulevard Park, Fairhaven, Lake Padden, around Lake Samish, to Fairhaven and Marine Park. Finishers complete the last leg together up Wharf Street to finish at Boundary Bay. The Bellingham Traverse Course includes a 5.5 mi. Greenways Run, 6 mi. Mountain Bike, 18 mi. Road Bike, 3.4 mi. Trail Run, 3.6 mi. Paddle, 0.65 mi. Team TREK to the finish.

Bellingham Bay Marathon

Often called “the most beautiful marathon in the Pacific Northwest,” the Bellingham Bay Marathon offers scenic courses, with views of Bellingham Bay, San Juan islands, and North Cascade mountains.

Bellingham SeaFeast

SeaFeast is a celebration of Bellingham’s maritime heritage legacy, bustling working waterfront, internationally-renowned fishing & seafood industries, unsurpassed culinary bounty, and top-drawer regional entertainment. The waterfront has defined Bellingham from its very beginnings, and this two-day festival shows from sea-to-plate why the ocean, the bay, and Salish Sea set Bellingham apart.

Mt. Baker Hill Climb

Ascend 4,098 feet from Glacier to Artist Point in just over 22 miles. This timed race offers Recreational and Competitive division including cash prizes for the top 3 Male and Female finishers. Scenic Hwy 542 is closed to traffic for this event.

Whatcom Artists Studio Tour

The Whatcom Artists Studio Tour  brings the public into artists' working studios for a two weekend, self-guided tour and sale.  The Tour began with ten artists and has grown to be a well-orchestrated tour featuring over 50 artists working in more than a dozen different media, and featuring 41 studios scattered throughout Bellingham and Whatcom County. The tour includes both emerging and established area artists. Each studio features the work of the primary artist, and some may include additional artists as well, providing a unique and compelling variety of artwork.

Cloud Mountain Farm Fruit Festival

Cloud Mountain Farm Center’s Fall Fruit Festival is an annual event that has been held for over 20 years. They have close to 200 varieties of common and uncommon fruits, cider, nuts, plus rare fruit jellies and sauces for you to taste and enjoy. These are all fruits you can grow in NW Washington. Live music provides a pleasant background to this event. This is a festive family outing that many people annually attend.

Fall Craft & Antique Show

The Craft and Antique show during the Fall is at the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds. Over 100 artisans. Enjoy shopping for that special handcrafted gift or unique vintage treasure for your home. Have lunch or a latte in the cafe while enjoying ongoing entertainment.

Allied Arts Holiday Festival of the Arts 

The Annual Holiday Festival of the Arts is a six-week-long (mid-Nov-Dec) festival featuring the work of over one hundred local artisans and craftspeople. The affordable handmade products range from jewelry to paintings and wearable art to specialty foods. Weekends are packed with activities; hear live local music, catch some artists in action, and bring the kids in for fun art projects.

Fairhaven Winterfest

It kicks off on the day after Thanksgiving, when Black Friday morning turns into a glittering Friday evening in Bellingham’s Fairhaven Historic District and the Victorian-era streets of Fairhaven are officially lit with thousands of tiny lights. The festival begins with an evening art walk through the district’s unique shops. Jingle bells and the familiar clop of hooves set the tone each Saturday in Fairhaven, (end of Nov-Dec), as shoppers and families enjoy free horse-drawn wagon rides through city blocks built in the 1800s, as well as appearances by Santa at the Fairhaven Village Inn.

Holiday Port Festival & Gingerbread House Contest

The annual Holiday Port Festival is the first weekend in December and takes place at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal in the historic Fairhaven district. It features performances by local choirs, orchestras, bands and dance groups. There are lots of free family activities, including horse-drawn wagon rides, children’s art activities, complimentary gingerbread cookies and cider to name a few. Santa and Mrs. Claus will also be around. Meanwhile, sugar plum fairies transform the Bellingham Cruise Terminal into a sweet gingerbread house contest during the first weekend of December. Categories range from youth to professional bakers. Previous entries have created miniature versions of the Space Needle, Santa’s stable, and even the Washington State Capitol.

Olde Fashioned Christmas in Ferndale

Bring your sweet tooth to celebrate Olde Fashioned Christmas in Ferndale during the first weekend of December. The city is home to Pioneer Park, featuring a collection of actual log cabins built by the first settlers to the region in the late 1800s. Each year, members of the Ferndale Heritage Society spend weeks decorating the cabins for the holidays as the pioneers would have done, then don period costumes to welcome visitors with traditional holiday cheer. Try homemade applesauce in a pioneer kitchen, write a letter to Santa in the one-room schoolhouse and mail it in the historic post office, sing carols on a horse and wagon ride, and of course enjoy a warm treat.

Lynden’s Lighted Parade

Lynden’s 21st annual holiday celebration begins at 6:00 p.m. on the first Saturday of December with the beloved Lighted Christmas Parade. This event captures the ultimate charm of a farming community, as well as honoring Lynden’s Dutch roots. John Deere tractors, farm equipment, milk trucks, fire trucks, and antique cars are all wrapped in Christmas lights and joyfully paraded through town as onlookers clap and cheer. The procession starts at Fairway Center and travels along Front Street throughout downtown Lynden. Visitors should bundle up in warm clothes and bring their own hot cocoa and lawn chairs! In addition, don’t forget to take a tour of unique light displays and decorated storefronts throughout the city during Lynden in Lights; illuminated designs including Nativity sets, Dutch children, poinsettias, and windmills shine brightly throughout the holiday season for all to see.

Annual Ring of Fire & Hope

Celebrating the transition of the New Year, the community of Birch Bay presents two unique activities. On December 31, the Annual Ring of Fire & Hope takes place after dark. The crescent-shaped shoreline of the bay is lit with hundreds of road flares to signify hope for the coming year. On January 1, at noon, the Annual Birch Bay Polar Bear Plunge promises to wake up participants with a quick jump into the bay’s frigid and refreshing water.

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