The City of Bellingham hosts both nationally recognized and locally loved events year round, beginning on January 1 with a freezing dive into Lake Padden alongside hundreds of other thick-skinned swimmers at the Polar Bear Plunge.
Taste what makes Whatcom County a national leader in organic produce at year-round foodie festivals! During harvest season, taste the best fruits, cheeses, and berries at the Northwest Raspberry Festival, Whatcom Country Farm Tour, and the Fall Fruit Festival.
Take in the vibrant local arts scene at events like the Whatcom Artist Studio Tour, where working artists share their craft on free tours. For regular art exhibitions, take part in the monthly Downtown Art Walk, which combines food, art, boutiques, and galleries into one vibrant experience. Nearby Lummi Island, a short ferry crossing from Bellingham, is home to many working artists who open their studios each spring during the Artist's Studio Tour.
Hear the sounds of the Pacific Northwest with endless local music festivals. Get your groove on at the Mount Baker R&B Festival, or head north for the Birch Bay Music Festival. Stay in Bellingham over the summer and attend Music in the Park and the Stringband Jamboree at nearby fairgrounds. You’ll find it hard to miss Whatcom County’s biggest urban outdoor music festival, Downtown Sounds, where fantastic bands perform for free in the heart of Bellingham.
For those interested in tracing the roots of Whatcom’s settler history, head down to the Deming Logging show. Or, dress up like an 1800’s homesteader, eat cupcakes for fame and glory, and listen to local music at the Dirty Dan Day celebration of Fairhaven district community founder “Dirty” Dan Harris. Experience Scottish culture with vendors, athletics, musical displays, dancing, and delicious foods at the summer Highland games. You can also take in tribal dances, war canoe races, a salmon barbecue and more at the Lummi Stomish Water Festival.
Make your mark in numerous local races, including the Jingle Bell Run, Muds to Suds, the Bellingham Bay Marathon, Bellingham Traverse, Color Run, and the Chuckanut Century Bike Race. For a bigger challenge, grab a team of friends and compete recreationally or competitively in the world-renowned Ski to Sea race, a massive relay with downhill and cross-country skiing, running, biking, canoeing, and kayaking!
Bellingham’s parades are a great opportunity to have fun with friends or contribute your own artistic talent. Stay “green” with Bellingham’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade or bring your creativity to the Procession of the Species, an annual parade of art and costume celebrating the natural world. Join thousands of onlookers for the Ski to Sea Parade, a springtime celebration that coincides with Bellingham’s world-famous race. Finally, start your summer right by celebrating diversity in Bellingham’s yearly Pride Parade and picnic!