The South Sound’s favorite summer festivals are part of what makes the summer so special in the area. From live entertainment and new experiences, to festivals fit for local foodies and art lovers, enjoy some of the region’s most-loved annual events this summer.
Tacoma Ocean Fest is a free all-ages event celebrating the ocean and inspiring the community to help to protect it. Enjoy art, science and water activities while learning how to take to help keep the ocean clean and the animals that call it home healthy. Taking place at Tacoma’s beautiful Foss Waterway, which sits on traditional Puyallup Tribe land, Ocean Fest will kick off the festival with a blessing by the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and Canoe Family, in honor of their dedication to protecting the Puget Sound and Salish Sea.
Enjoy live music and dance performances, among interactive art exhibits, hands-on science projects, OceanX talks and a number of exciting booths to visit. Tryout a paddle board on the water with the help of Metro Parks Tacoma and the Foss Harbor Marina, and enjoy kayak-led litter pick-up tours which will be taking place continuously throughout the day. Come hungry to enjoy food from four local vendors who are committed to keeping the ocean clean: Bliss Creamery Ice Cream, The Social Bar & Grill, Sirius Wood Fired Pizza, and Plum Bistro Food Truck will be on-site, and each are proud to sustainably prepare and package their specialties. Ocean Fest takes place on Sunday, June 9, the day after World Ocean Day on Saturday, June 8, where they’ll kick off the celebration by hosting a beach cleanup at the Purdy Spit and will be creating a human orca whale mural on the beach.
Taste of Tacoma
Taste of Tacoma will be celebrating its 33rd annual food festival at Point Defiance Park on Friday, June 21, through Sunday, June 23. The Taste will feature more than 40 food vendors, trucks and restaurants who will be serving up everything from unique ethnic cuisines to all-American favorites. Enjoy specialty foods with something fun and out-of-the-ordinary for everyone ranging from foot-long fries and sushi burritos, to deep fried PB&J sandwiches, and different street foods from around the world. Try out the Taste’s artesian food vendors who produce a wide variety of packaged foods and ingredients from homemade honeys and sauces, to olive oils and sweet treats like fudge, cookie doughs, and more.
Savor the tastes of summer while you enjoy live entertainment from various musicians and bands playing on three different stages throughout the park. The Pond Stage is sure to get you on your feet with live funk, dance, salsa, Americana and reggae music, while The Bowl Stage will feature classic rock, tribute bands, blues and country. The Rose Garden Stage is for ages 21+ only and will have you swaying your way into summer to the tunes of blues, jazz, Latin and more in the Taste of Tacoma’s Craft Beer and Wine Tasting Garden. Enjoy more live entertainment, demos from local chefs and restaurants, and some good old-fashioned fun at the Taste’s Funtastic Carnival featuring games and rides for both kids and adults. Admission to the Taste of Tacoma is a free all ages event, but packages for different festival experiences are available online.
The Freedom Fair
The Freedom Fair returns to Tacoma to celebrate Independence Day along the Ruston Way Waterfront. Enjoy this patriotic festival’s classic car show, five different stages with live music, a kid’s zone and a number of food vendors. Tacoma’s Freedom Fair will host a military air show featuring fantastic aerial demonstrations from all three branches of military as jets soar over Commencement Bay. The Air Force will be flying a F-16 Fighting Falcon, a jet so fast that it can exceed speeds of Mach 2. The Marine Corps will be flying an AV-8B Harrier Jump Jet, showcasing its unique mid-air maneuvers, while the Navy will take to the skies in a Boeing EA-18G Growler, which can top speeds of over 1,000 miles per hour. Stick around throughout the afternoon for a number of civilian aerial acts and formations, and don’t miss the Freedom Fair’s famous fireworks show when the sun goes down at 10:00 p.m. as it’s one of the largest in the state.
Art on the Ave
Art on the Ave is Tacoma’s largest arts-based annual event and will be taking place along 6th Avenue on Saturday, July 14, for the 19th year in a row. Each year this eclectic festival brings out hundreds of locals to enjoy vendors, artists, and live music and entertainment performed on multiple different stages. Fuel up at various food trucks, beer gardens, and be sure to Grub Crawl your way through the festival to enjoy special sweet treats or savory bites from 6th Avenue restaurants for only $6.
Food Truck Fest
Food Truck Fest will celebrate its sixth annual festival at Wright Park on Saturday, July 20. Metro Parks Tacoma is proud to bring the community together not only to experience great foods of all varieties, but also to enjoy music and entertainment in one of Tacoma’s most beautiful and historic park settings. With over 20 food trucks on-site, patrons can indulge in classic American picnic-style favorites like burgers and barbeque or take their taste buds on a trip with exotic cuisines ranging from Middle Eastern fare and Asian street food, to Greek gyros and Hawaiian poke.
Ethnic Fest is Tacoma’s largest annual celebration of culture and community, taking place at Wright Park on Saturday, July 27, and Sunday, July 28. For over 30 years, this free two-day event has brought in in family-friendly fun and showcases music, dance, art and food from various cultures around the world. Visitors can enjoy hands-on activities and experiences, specialty arts and crafts, and unique live entertainment.
Glass Fest Northwest
Glass Fest Northwest will also be taking place on Saturday, July 27, at the Museum of Glass plaza in celebration of glass art and artists of the Pacific Northwest. This free event celebrates and supports local artists, makers and their extraordinary crafts. Visitors can enjoy 30+ local artists, live glassmaking demonstrations, food, drinks and a hands-on art activities for all ages. Discover various products from local artists including jewelry, ceramics and more. Each visitor who provides a receipt from a purchase made with one of the vendors at Glass Fest will receive free admission to the Museum of Glass for the day of the festival.
Proctor Arts Fest
Proctor Arts Fest will be held on Saturday, August 3, bringing together the community at this free one-day summer art festival in Tacoma’s North End. Enjoy different creations from over 150 arts and craft vendors, take a stroll through the Proctor Farmers Market, and be sure to peruse the sidewalk and book sales. Treat yourself to delicious food and drink options while listening to live music, and even enjoy a free movie at the Blue Mouse Theatre.
Brew Five Three
Brew Five Three: Tacoma’s Beer & Music Festival will be holding its seventh annual block party on Saturday, August 10 on Broadway between 9th and 11th Street. This 21+ only festival will feature more than 35 local beers and ciders, an assortment of food trucks, and live music performed in the outdoor cultural hub located next to Theatre on the Square. Tickets for this event include six tasting tokens, a commemorative tasting glass, and will cost $25 if purchased before July 19. Tickets purchased after July 19 will cost $30 and day-of tickets are $35. Designated drivers are encouraged to attend and will receive entry to the festival for only $10, which will include complimentary non-alcoholic beverages. All tickets can be purchased online and a valid ID is required for entry.
Washington State Fair
The Washington State Fair will cap off the summer’s round up of festivals from August 30 to September 22. From classic carnival rides to Krusty Pup corndogs, delight in fun for the whole family while you do the Puyallup. Enjoy entertainment ranging from magic shows and the petting zoo, to the Columbia Bank Concert Series featuring a star-studded lineup including musicians like Billy Idol, Keith Urban, Weezer and others. Concert tickets are now available to purchase online. Savor the fair’s plentiful food options while you explore its wild rides, farm tours, unique vendors and annual Washington State Rodeo. Tickets to the Washington State Fair are not on sale yet, so be sure to visit their website for more information about admission and ticket pricing.