The summer season has officially started, but this one will be slightly different from what you have seen before. The pandemic shuttered pretty much every summer festival for the last two years, so some once-annual events have yet to announce any restarts, while others will be stripped down for safety and logistical reasons. Specific events are still in flux, so check for updates. But here is a quick sample of the summer festivals and festivities ahead in the South Sound.
Tacoma’s Pride Festival is set for noon to 6 p.m. on July 9 in downtown Tacoma, although there is a growing roster of events throughout the month that is being fleshed out.
The Taste of Tacoma, for example, is now the Taste of the Northwest, which has moved from Point Defiance to the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup. It runs noon to 9 p.m. on July 1-3 with free admission to live entertainment that will be surrounded by more than 40 food vendors, merch vendors, and booze and brews tastings, as well as activities that range from kiddo slides, roller skating and axe throwing, which are more big-kid draws.
A big drawer of crowds has been Art on the Ave, which will return to Tacoma’s 6th Avenue with a stripped-down festival from noon to 5 p.m. on July 16, in what is being called a “building back year.”
Another change to the festival lineup from previous years is Ethnic Fest, now called MOSAIC: Tacoma’s Arts and Culture Festival. The two-day cultural bonanza takes over Tacoma’s Wright Park from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on July 23-24, with family-friendly performances representing Tacoma’s diverse community through songs, dances, vendors, food and crafts.
“The pandemic closures gave us all an opportunity to take a step back and really evaluate all our programs and events,” said Sophia McKee, marketing manager for Metro Parks Tacoma’s Parks & Recreation Department, in the rebranding announcement. “We wanted a name for this community festival that truly celebrates the brilliant diversity of cultures in our city, without a term that is offensive in the way it’s often used.” The term “ethnic,” the announcement continued, is often misused in reference to mean foreign or associated with people of color.
LeMay – America’s Car Museum revs up the summer with Slightly Stoopid Summer Traditions of reggae music from 4:30 to 11:30 p.m. on July 10 and then hosts its free, outdoor movie series on July 16, with Encanto followed by Jungle Cruise on July 29, Black Panther on August 5 and Spider-Man: No Way Home on August 19. Gates open at 5 p.m. and shows start after dusk.
Gig Harbor’s Summer Arts Festival takes over downtown over the July 16-17 weekend and will include a juried arts and crafts fair by the Peninsula Art League, with more than 100 artists and crafters, as well as activities, food vendors and music.
Lakewood’s SummerFest takes to Fort Steilacoom Park from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on July 23 with a roster of exhibits and vendors that range from fire trucks and classic cars to activity booths, food trucks and cultural and musical performances.
One dog-friendly festival to toast to is BREW FIVE THREE: Tacoma’s Beer & Music Festival, which runs in two sessions on Saturday, August 6, on Broadway between Ninth and 11th in downtown Tacoma. Tickets are $43 for a session or $73 for a day pass at the gate, with discounts for advanced purchases. Designated driver passes for just water and soda are $10. The festival will offer beer and cider tasting from Northwest brewers as well as have vendors and food trucks aplenty. Session tickets cover six tastings and a commemorative tasting glass, while a day pass boasts the ten samples. For obvious reasons, this is for the 21-and-over crowd, and valid IDs are required for entry.
Enjoy this summer’s festivals in the South Sound and let us know if you have an event to include by sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.