When the sun dips below the horizon, and the year comes to a close, Whatcom County lights up with festivities for all, in true northern style. Here is a 2017 list of must-see holiday events in Bellingham, Blaine, Birch Bay, Ferndale and Lynden. Bring your camera to capture photos of Santa! Then continue the fun on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Fairhaven Winterfest, Nov. 24 – Dec. 23, 2017.Â Festivities begin the Friday evening after Thanksgiving in the Fairhaven Historic District, with a Holiday Art Walk and the arrival of Father Christmas. Fairhaven Winterfest continues on Sat., Nov. 25 and each Saturday leading up to Christmas with horse-drawn wagon rides through the district, visits with Santa, a Find the Elves Treasure Hunt, Holiday Market and special lighting of the district in thousands of glittering orbs.
Bellingham Theatre Guild presentsÂ The Christmas Schooner,Â Nov. 24 – Dec. 10, 2017. This musical for the whole family is a heart-warming story of the first Christmas tree ship and the family who risked their lives to fill Chicago with the Christmas spirit. Performances at the Bellingham Theatre Guild are at 7:30 p.m. on Thurs., Fri., Sat., and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $14 adults, $12 seniors and students, and $8 children.
Claire vg Thomas Theatre presentsÂ Scrooge The Musical,Â Nov. 24 – Dec. 10, 2017. This play is a musical adaptation ofÂ A Christmas Carol. Follow the timeless story of Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas Eve. The Claire vg Thomas Theatre is located at 655 Front Street in Lynden (inside the Lynden Dutch Mall.) Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Thurs., Fri., Sat and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $10,Â $12, and $14.
Deck the Old City Hall, Whatcom Museum, Nov. 24 – Dec. 31, 2017. The holiday spirit will be brought to life as the Whatcom Museum’s Old City HallÂ building is decorated with garlands, wreaths, and sparkling lights, and features more than 20 themed, decorated trees. In addition to the festive decorations, the program feature visits with Santa and Wally the Museum Mouse.
- Visit with Santa at Deck the Old City Hall, Sat. and Sun., Nov. 25 & 26; Sunday, December 3, 12:30-2:30
- Visit with Wally the Museum Mouse Saturday, December 2 & 9, 12:30-2:30 pm
- Deck the Old City Hall Cocktail Party, Friday, December 1, 5:30-8p. $50 per person, 21+ event
Santa Train, Dec. 1-3, 8-10, 15-23, 2017.Â Ready for a “Polar Express” experience? This fun nighttime activity takes place from 5 to 9 p.m. at Minature World Family Fun Center near Birch Bay. As Christmas approaches, the Forest of Imagination changes into a magical wonderland full of over one million lights brightly twinkling in the night! As the train slowly winds its way through this enchanted land, the children’s eyes are bright with wonderment. Parents will also share this magical enchantment, remembering Christmases past when they were young and full of the mystery of it all. This is an outdoor activity. Be sure to dress warmly!
At the end of the 20-minute ride, Santa is waiting for the youngsters and the young at heart to get their pictures taken and tell Santa what they want for Christmas. Every Train Ride comes with a free Hot Chocolate and a Candy Cane from Santa Claus to add to the festive air. Prices are $13.95 adults (ages 13+) and $9.95 children (ages 2-12).
Festival of Trees, The Leopold Crystal Ballroom, Dec. 1 – 2, 2017.Â A fundraiser for the Bellingham Senior Activity Center takes place the first weekend of December. View a beautifully decorated Tour of Trees on Friday, Dec. 1 from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 2 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The trees will then be auctioned off at a gala dinner on Saturday, Dec. 2 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for the gala are $50.
Holiday Port Celebration, Bellingham Cruise Terminal, Dec. 1 â€“ 3, 2017.Â The Holiday Port Celebration features an incredible Gingerbread House (and gingerbread everything) Competition, sponsored by the Port of Bellingham. Come see holiday creativity at its finest. The fun also includes performances from local bands, choirs, and dance troupes, along with a horse-drawn wagon and tractor wagon rides, art activities for children and photos with Santa Claus.
- Hours for the overall Holiday Port event are Friday, noon to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Olde Fashioned Christmas in Ferndale, Dec. 1 – 3, 2017. This is an event for kids, parents and grandparents to share in the joys of Christmas past, as well as Christmas present. Each year, volunteers of the Ferndale Heritage Society meticulously decorate the 12 historic, log cabins in Pioneer Park. Kids can write a letter to Santa in the one-room schoolhouse, mail them in the one-room post office, dance a jig, create a craft and visit Santa.
- Hours are Friday, Dec. 1 from 5 to 9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 2 from 1 to 9 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 3 from 1 to 4 pm Tickets are $4 for adults and $3 for children. Pioneer Park is located at 2004 Cherry Street in Ferndale.
Holiday Harbor Lights in Blaine, Dec. 1 – 2, 2017. A variety of activities occur in Blaine on this first weekend of December.Â On Friday and Saturday: a Homemade Arts and Crafts Christmas Bazaar is hosted at 674 Peace Portal Drive, and the Blaine Library hosts a winter book sale (610 3rd Street). Saturday features a Holiday Lights Obstacle Dash Run/Walk at 3:00 p.m., a community tree-lighting, and caroling at 4:30 p.m., and visits with Santa at H Street Plaza and Pizza Factory at 5 p.m. A lighted boat parade in Drayton Harbor can be viewed from 6 to 7 p.m. on Saturday. For more details see Blaine Holiday Harbor Lights.
Lynden Lighted Christmas Parade, Dec. 2, 2017. Bring your parka, your warm boots, your lawn chairs and a thermos of hot cocoa to warm your spirit with a dazzling display of lighted fire trucks, tractors, dump trucks, cars, floats, wagons and farm equipment down Lyndenâ€™s Front Street, snow or shine! The procession starts at Fairway Center and travels east along Front Street through downtown, beginning at 6 p.m.
Holiday Tree Lighting at Hotel Bellwether, Dec. 2, 2017. Hotel Bellwether will host their 6th annual Holiday Trees Benefitting Skookum Kids, by transforming into a Holiday Wonderland with festive trees decorated by local businesses on display throughout December. The kick-off tree lighting ceremony will be Dec. 2 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Vote for you favorite tree, take pictures with the Snow Queen and Snow Princess, enjoy festive music, holiday treats and beverages. The Bellingham Bells’ mascot Dinger will also be available for a short while.
To vote for your favorite tree, bring new or gently used clothing for ages 13 and younger, or make a monetary donation to Skookum Kids. Voters will receive a same day 10% off voucher to the Lighthouse Bar & Grill and will be entered to win a one night stay in the Hotel Bellweather Lighthouse Suite. Voting ends Dec. 31. For more info call 360-392-3100.
Winter White at Mount Baker Theatre, Dec. 2 – 3, 2017.Â Enjoy a beautiful ballet performance set to Big Band classics of the 1930’s and 40’s at the Mount Baker Theatre. Performances are Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 general admission, and $5 kids ages 10 and younger.
The Snow Queen at BAAY Theater, Dec. 8 – 10, and 15-17, 2017. Â Show times are Friday 7 p.m.; Saturday 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Sunday 2 p.m. More details at BAAY.org.
A Winter Solstice Concert with SeaMuse, Dec. 21, 2017.Â Let festive music warm you on the longest night of the year at a concert of international tunes by four talented musicians. SeaMuse will perform at the Firehouse Performing Arts Center, 1314 Harris Street, Bellingham on Thursday, Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the door, at Village Books, Community Food Co-op or online. Read full details here.
AÂ Very Subdued Christamas at Sylvia Center for the Arts, Dec. 21 – 24, 2017. Robert Sarazin Blake presents a collection of songs and stories relating to the holidays. Featuring a recitation of Dylan Thomasâ€™ A Childâ€™s Christmas in Wales. Performances Thuâ€“Sat, at 7:00 p.m., plus a special matinee performance Sun, Dec 24 at 4:00 p.m.
The Nutcracker at Mount Baker Theatre, Dec. 22 – 24, 2017.Â Get dressed up for an evening at the ballet. Northwest Ballet Theater presents The Nutcracker in a similar style as the original version first performed in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1892. Three performances will be held on Friday at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 – $35.
Allied Arts Holiday Festival of the Arts, Nov. 17 – Dec. 24, 2016. This 38th annual festival features the work of over 100 local artisans and craftspeople. The affordable, locally handmade products range from jewelry, paintings, wearable art, specialty foods, and art from found materials. Fill your weekends with live local music, artist demos and workshops, and bring the kids in for fun art projects. The 2015 festival is located at 4145 Meridian St., Bellingham.
- Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.Â Closed pm Thanksgiving Day and closing at 3 pm on Dec. 24.Â www.alliedarts.org
Holiday Bazaars:Â Here’s a link to our updated 2017 list of holiday bazaars, craft shows and shopping events in Bellingham and Whatcom County.
Free Gift Wrapping Weekdays at BelleWood Acres. Here’s a great deal. Bring ALL of your gifts to BelleWood Acres, 6140 Guide Meridian, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and with the purchase of two lunches, their elves will wrap all your presents while you eat. They will also accepting donations for Lydia Place. BelleWood Acres has an adorable gift shop of its own, as well as a bakery and distillery, so you’ll likely find a few more gifts or additions to your holiday menu! Information can be found at www.bellewoodfarms.com and by calling 360-318-7720.
New Year’s Eve
Swanky New Years Eve SoirĂ©e at the Leopold Crystal Ballroom, Dec. 31, 2017, 7 p.m.Â The public is invited to the historic Leopold Hotelâ€™s Crystal Ballroom,Â 1224 Cornwall Ave, in Downtown Bellingham on Sunday, December 31, for a fancy fundraiser to benefit the Sylvia Center for the Arts capital campaign. The evening will feature a delicious dinner by local chefs Cassidy Bloom and Greg Schasse, desserts by local artisans, and auctions to benefit the construction of a new arts center in downtown Bellingham.
Guests will enjoy champagne, a no-host bar, and swinging tunes by Hot House Jazz Band and the Whatcom Jazz Music Arts Center, as well as community awards and presentations about the positive impact of a new local performing arts facility.Â VIP reception at 6:30pm, SoirĂ©e open to public at 7:00 p.m. Early Bird Tickets $100 at idiomtheater.com/tickets.
Annual Ring of Fire and Hope, Birch Bay, Dec. 31, 2017, 7 p.m. Revelers ringing in the new year start with lighting road flares along the Birch Bay shoreline. Anyone can participate. This is a spectacular sight as the bay becomes a ring of fire, signifying hope for the coming year. For a small donation, flares are usually available at the Birch Bay Visitor’s Center.Â
Boundary Bay Brewery to Host Western Themed New Yearâ€™s Eve Dance and Dinner Bash, Dec. 31, 2017, 9 p.m.
On New Yearâ€™s Eve, the Tap Room and Bistro atÂ Boundary Bay Brewery will transform into a Western-themed dance hall, complete with line dancing and BBQ food. Doors open at 9 p.m. Â The fabulous Charlene Lenn, of Lynden Line Dancers, will get the dancing started at 10 p.m. There will be a champagne toast and Boundary Bayâ€™s traditional keg drop at midnight.
â€śBoots, Buckles, beer and cowboy hats.Â Yehaw!â€ť said Charlene. â€śI canâ€™t think of any place Iâ€™d rather be than boot scootinâ€™ the night away at Boundary Bay.Â A little stomp and shuffle and youâ€™ll all be line dancing the night away!â€ť Tickets cost $35 per person or $60 per couple and can be purchased in the Tap Room at Boundary Bay, or online atÂ https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3174400.Â Tickets include admission and BBQ style cuisine.
New Year’s Eve at Hotel Bellwether, Dec. 31, 5 p.m.Â Music and a full-service menu are on tap at Hotel Bellwether for a memorable New Year’s. The Blue Root Jazz Quartet will perform in the Dining Room from 5 to 9 p.m. and Sara Vega will perform in the Lounge from 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Reservations for dinner are recommended. Call 360-392-3200.
EAT Restaurant New Year’s Eve Dinner, Dec. 31, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.Â Toast with a glass of campaign and enjoy a special 4-course (a la carte) dinner at EAT Restaurant in downtown Bellingham on New Year’s Eve. To make a reservation call 360-306-3917.
Dance Party at Aslan Brewing, Dec. 31, 9 p.m. – 1:30 a.m.Â Boogie the night away and ring in the New Year with a dance party at Aslan Brewing in downtown Bellingham, featuring DJ Olas and epic visuals from Sensebellum. A $10 cover charge includes a glass of campaign for a midnight toast.
Semiahmoo Resort New Year’s Eve Bash, Dec. 31, 6:30 p.m. – 1:30 a.m.Â This Whatcom County tradition includes a Cocktail Reception at 6:30 p.m., a dinner buffet at 7:30 p.m., live music from the Atlantics beginning at 9 p.m., plenty of room for dancing and of course a balloon drop and champaign toast at midnight. The resort is also a great place to stay the night and wake up to sea breeze and bird singing in the New Year. For reservations see semiahmoo.com.
New Year’s Day
Polar Bear Plunge at Birch Bay, Jan. 1, 2018, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.Â This local tradition has been ongoing since 1982 and has become an international destination on New Year’s Day. Be sure to bring towels, a blanket and an extra set of warm clothes! More details here.
Lake Padden Resolution Run and Polar Dip, Jan. 1, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.Â For those who like a good fun run before they plunge into ice cold water, try this event at Lake Padden. Silly costumes are encouraged! More details here. (Check the City of Bellingham Parks and Recreation Facebook page by December 31 to find out if the event has been canceled due to algae.)
For additional events on specific days, also see our Event Calendar.