Explore the Community

Erin Aldag posing in the library

I love the community events that happen throughout the year. From the Farmer's Market every weekend, to the Ski to Sea relay race, there is always something going on!

Erin Aldag

Events Year-Round

The City of Bellingham hosts nationally recognized and locally loved events year-round, beginning on January 1 with a freezing dive into Lake Padden alongside hundreds of other thrill-seeking swimmers at the Polar Bear Plunge.

A man wearing silly sunglasses and playing the guitar

So Much to Do, Just 10 Minutes from Campus

Concerts, galleries, theatre, film, festivals and a whole lot more—day and night, Bellingham's downtown is bursting with entertainment and local events.

Downtown Bellingham Events

Just Down the Road

It's a short bike ride or drive to even more action. Take in a parade, pick your own fresh blueberries, spend a day at the Northwest Washington Fair or be a part of a team during Bellingham's epic Ski to Sea Race. 

Greater Bellingham Community Events

Students in the Community

Western students bring energy, passion and creativity to Bellingham, and Bellingham embraces them.

A student speaking at an MLK Day celebration

Participate in an internship that builds on your education, find a job at one of the many local businesses or volunteer for a cause you're passionate about–Bellingham offers endless opportunities to get involved, help others and become a community leader. Here are just a few of the exemplary students who have gotten involved in Bellingham while attending Western:


As a future teacher, Chris Boe (History and Social Studies) works at a local middle school where he researched topics and teaches middle-schoolers. He is getting real-world experience as an instructor and expanding his own studies at the same time.

Environmental Advocates

Bryson Bellefeuille (Environmental Science with an emphasis in toxicity) explores how chemicals impact environmental and human health. He studies contaminated zones around the Pacific Northwest and is interning at a hospital studying how air pollution causes lung disease.

Non-profit Founders

Sukhmanii Kahlon (Communication Studies) founded the non-profit American Sikhs, which helps elderly immigrants learn to speak English, stay healthy, and become citizens. In the two years since Sukhmanii founded American Sikhs, she's made huge strides—each of her students has aced the citizenship test, and now she's working toward getting free medical checkups for elderly Sikhs at a local clinic.


In high school, Joe Canfield (Electrical Engineering) cobbled together guitar amplifiers from vacuum tubes and wire. Now electrical engineering is his major, and Joe's music is only getting louder. He plays guitar in his local band, Bob Fossil, and recently mixed and mastered their debut album. Unable to stay away from music, Joe picked up a minor in Classical Guitar after re-discovering his passion for music theory.

Alumni in the Community

When they graduate, students make the transition from learner to community leader, finding their place in one of America's greatest small cities.

Students meeting alumni at an event

Bellingham has numerous employment opportunities for alumni, including banks, law firms, engineering groups, software producers, a major hospital, and endless possibilities for self-employment as one of Forbes Magazine's "Best Small Places for Businesses and Careers " in 2017. These Western graduates contribute to Bellingham's unique character and create opportunities for graduates who will follow.

Civic leaders

Bellingham's chief executive has had strong ties to Western for nearly three decades. Bellingham's current Mayor, Kelli Linville, graduated from Western in '74 (Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology) and '81 (M.Ed., Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology). Preceding Linville, Mayor Dan Pike graduated from Western's class of '94 (Urban and Regional Planning).

Non-profit founders

Aimee Frazier ('91, Fairhaven College) founded Wild Whatcom in 2010, a nonprofit fostering youths' love of the outdoors through exploration and community service. The organization employs and provides internships for Western students, and has contributed more than 50,000 hours of service since its founding. Wild Whatcom was named one of Outside Magazine's top five summer camps for kids.

Local food growers

Thomas Thornton ('78, Fairhaven Interdisciplinary Concentration) and Cheryl Thornton ('77, Marine Resources) own Cloud Mountain, a nonprofit farm that is committed to keeping our local food systems healthy and thriving.

Business leaders

Jan Carten ('06 MBA) is President and Director of Saturna Capital, a local business trust. Carten directs Saturna's continuing education program and oversees the philanthropic efforts of the firm.


Western alums Brendan Pape ('11, Communications) and Christian Harkson ('12, Communications) have started two apparel companies: Disidual Clothing Co. a thriving outdoor-inspired apparel brand and Brist Mfg. a sister company specializing in apparel design and custom manufacturing. Harkson got to the heart of alumni's opportunity in Bellingham when he said, "A lot of cool businesses start out in Bellingham just because the community supports them so much. It's such a good place for a business to grow. "

National Recognition

Bellingham is recognized as a national and local leader in creating an accommodating, friendly, safe, and sustainable community. Check out why so many people decide to call Bellingham their home.

"Best Small Places for Businesses and Careers" & "Best Small City in Washington to Do Business"

Forbes Magazine 

“EPA’s Green Power Partner of the Year” (Ranked No. 2 in the nation for Green Power)

Environmental Protection Agency

“One of the Safest Cities to Live In”

Sperling's Best Places

“Top 11 Cities Nationwide for Cleanest Air”

American Lung Association

“5th Hottest Boomtown under 150,000”

Inc. Magazine