Tacoma has festivals all year round, but there’s something special about the summer season. Just about every weekend has something to do, from food festivals to fireworks to artsy events and beyond. Look ahead at what’s on where and mark your calendars. Get ready for a 2017 summer filled with festival fun.
Fireworks at Cheney Stadium
All throughout baseball season, Cheney Stadium sets off fireworks after Friday night home game. Enjoy the game and some hot dogs and then stay for the fireworks, which take place when the games end somewhere between 10:00 and 11:00 p.m. You can also spot the fireworks from nearby streets if you’re driving by at the right time. In 2017, Friday home games will take place on July 3 for the stadium’s Fireworks Spectacular, July 14 and 21, August 4 and 11.
Freedom Fest – July 4
Freedom Fest is one of several July 4 celebrations in Pierce County, but it’s the only one in Tacoma and it’s one the of the biggest in all of Western Washington. Not only do the obligatory fireworks light up the sky by night, but all day long attendees can enjoy vendors, food trucks, live music, a car show, and an air show.
Tacoma Pride – July 7
The Tacoma Pride Festival is actually an umbrella for several events, including a block party,meeting, film series and more. But what many people think of when they hear the name is the Tacoma Pride event at Wright Park, formerly known as Out in the Park. The event is family friendly and fun for all. Expect vendors, live music, performers ranging from drag acts to cirque and plenty of speakers.
Art on the Ave – July 9
Art on the Ave turns the stretch of 6th Ave from State Street to Alder into one long lineup of artsy goodness. You’ll find stages with live music spread out along the blocks, and plenty of less formal entertainment along the way. Maybe you’ll come across someone offering tarot readings, or a roller derby right in the streets, or a metal working demonstration. Most of the 6th Avenue restaurants and pubs are open, too, so stop in for a bite or a meal.
Old Town Blues Festival – July 16
Old Town Blues Festival pretty much says it all in the name. Hang out in and around Old Town Park and listen to cool blues music all day long. The Spar is right there if you need some chips or a beer, too.
Tacoma Maritime Fest – July 16-17
Tacoma is a maritime city and it’s only fitting that there’s a celebration of T-Town’s watery connections. The Maritime Fest brings in all kinds of things to do and explore, including spending time at the Foss Waterway Seaport, getting onto boats, helping with a community mural and live music. But the free boat tours of the Foss Waterway and Port of Tacoma are definitely some of the highlights of the event.
Food Truck Fest – July 23
Food Truck Fest is just what it sounds like – a celebration of all things food truck held in Wright Park. In 2017, expect a bit of everything as trucks include chains like Auntie Anne’s Pretzels and Ben and Jerry’s, as well as plenty of local favorites like Viet Nom Nom, Lumpia World, House of Donuts and Celebrity Cake Studio. While you nosh on tasty treats, listen to live music by Kim Archer and Kristen Marlo.
Ethnic Fest – July 29-30
Ethnic Fest fills Wright Park with family fun, food and a focus on cultures from around the world. This is a great festival for little ones as there are all kinds of things to do for kids…and they might even learn something too, like how to write their names in Korean or how to fold an origami crane. Of course, the festival isn’t all kiddies all the time. There are plenty of performances that adults will enjoy, too.
Sun Fest Watersports Festival at Point Ruston – July 29-August 5
For a festival with a sports edge, the SunFest Watersports Festival is it. As part of the festival, the world’s fastest water skiers will compete in the World Water Ski Racing Championships just off Point Ruston. There will also be wakeboard and sky diving demonstrations. On shore, festival goers can enjoy food, beer, live music and family activities.
Music and Art in Wright Park – August 12
Music and Art in Wright Park is a family-friendly, all-day concert that brings in plenty of artsy vendors, artists and food to snack on while you listen to all the bands, or stop by for just one. This year, there will be a lineup of 14 bands. Keep an eye on the website for specifics.
Kite Festival at Chambers Bay – August 5
Chambers Creek Regional Park is the place to be for kites this summer. The Kite Festival will usher in kite demonstrations involving kites of all shapes and sizes – some gigantic kites, too! You can kick back and watch the kites fly, or bring your own along and join in the fun. If you’ve got a camera, don’t leave it at home as awesome photos are a guarantee. For families with young children, there will be face painting and kids can make their own kites.
Brew Five Three – August 5
Tacoma has no shortage of craft breweries and many of them – as well as breweries from other areas of Washington State – will be out in force at Brew Five Three, a beer and blues festival held in the Theatre District downtown. Buy your tickets in advance to avoid long lines to get in. Once you’re in, taste your way through more than 30 beers and ciders, nosh upon food truck cuisine, and enjoy live music throughout the day.
Proctor Arts Fest – August 5
Proctor Arts Fest is a street fair held at and around the intersection of North 26th Street and Proctor. The festival is low-key and easy to get to, perfect if you’re starting to wear down from tough parking situations and shuttles from larger summer festivals. Vendors tend toward the artistic and plenty of arts demonstrations take place in the streets. Proctor District businesses (including the Proctor Art Gallery) also welcome folks in for special art exhibits, sidewalk sales, book sales and more. Live music happens throughout the day.
Washington Midsummer Renaissance Fair – August 5-6, 12-13, 19-20
While this festival is a little outside of Tacoma in Bonney Lake, there’s nothing else like it within the city bounds and it’s a popular summer festival for anyone who loves fantasy or Ren faires. Expect both fantasy- and Renaissance-themed costumes galore. Wear your own or don’t, either way is okay.
Washington State Fair – September 1-24
The Washington State Fair is a fitting cap off to the summer festival and event series, ushering in the first signs of autumn with pumpkin carvings and harvests throughout the many displays. Plus, it’s just a lot of fun. Ride the rides, eat fair food until you drop, visit the animals or catch a show. The fair has a great concert and rodeo lineup each year. In 2017, headliners include Steven Tyler, Melissa Etheridge, The Beach Boys, Marlon Wayans and others. If you don’t want to pay for a concert, no worries. There’s tons of free entertainment as well on stages throughout the fair. Catch a hypnotist, jugglers or musical acts every day.