10 Popular Festivals In Tacoma, Washington

festivals in tacoma
| 4 min read

Tacoma is a port city on the West Coast of the United States in the state of Washington. It is named after the nearby Mount Rainier—the mountain was originally named “Takoma.” Colloquially known as the “the city of destiny,” it was Northern Pacific Railway’s terminus when the railroad was being built in the 19th century. Although not the biggest place in the state, Tacoma has a lot of interesting things going for it, including a number of historic landmarks that appear on the National Register of Historic Places. Not only that, but a number of cultural landmarks and events add to the fabric of life for the town. When the weather is nice, the locals like to come out and enjoy their city, and that’s why there is a host of festivals here all year round. Here are some of the best and most popular festivals in Tacoma, Washington.

1. Tacoma Maritime Festival

Long Boat
Source: Photo by user Ken Jarvis used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Tacoma is a port city that essentially owes its existence to maritime explorations and the business of the sea. Tacoma Maritime Festival celebrates the city’s history on the waterfront in an environment that is perfect for the whole family. The festival has been going on for over two decades—with over a quarter-million visitors since its inception. Tours on the boats and docks are available, and exhibits of maritime art are also part of the experience.

Tacoma Maritime Festival

Address: 705 Dock St, Tacoma, WA 98402, United States

Website: Tacoma Maritime Festival

Takes place: July

Price: Free

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2. First Night Tacoma

Shelby Earl at the Tacoma Pantages 02
Source: Photo by user Joe Mabel used under CC BY-SA 2.0

First Night Tacoma is the city’s New Year’s Eve event! Set to start on the last night of December, the festival is a family-friendly celebration that focuses on a lot more than just the New Year. The name “First Night Tacoma” has to do with new beginnings and the coming together of the local community. Taking place in downtown Tacoma, this gathering has fires to keep you warm, performances across a couple of stages, and even a night market selling some holiday goods.

First Night Tacoma

Address: 901 Broadway, Tacoma, WA 98402, United States

Website: First Night Tacoma

Takes place: Last day of December to first day of January

Price: 10 - 20 USD

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3. Art on the Ave

Tacoma glass art
Source: Pixabay

Going on for almost 20 years strong now is the Art on the Ave project. The festival is one of Tacoma’s favorites, with artworks and artists showing up and showcasing the best of the local art scene. Taking place on the Sixth Avenue business district, the event is in collaboration with not only artists but local restaurants and musicians as well. Check it out, grab a bite to eat, and maybe pick up your new favorite piece of art.

Art on the Ave

Address: 6th Ave, State St & Alder St, Tacoma, WA 98402, United States

Website: Art on the Ave

Takes place: Usually held in July

Price: Free

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4. Taste of Tacoma

VicciMartinez TasteOfTacoma 2007
Source: Photo by user ©Jay Philip Williams used under CC BY 2.5

Taste of Tacoma is all about—you guessed it—food! Located at Point Defiance Park, the festival is all about things that are delicious. Try out some food from new restaurants or some old favorites, and indulge in a couple of drinks from one of Tacoma’s local breweries. Not only that, but there are loads of entertainment for the kids (and yourself, of course) as well as live music, wine tasting, and cooking demonstrations.

Taste of Tacoma

Address: Point Defiance Park, Tacoma, WA 98402, United States

Website: Taste of Tacoma

Takes place: June

Price: Free

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5. Freedom Fair

Tacoma Freedom Fair Fireworks 2011
Source: Photo by user Micah Sheldon used under CC BY 2.0

Come celebrate the biggest festival that takes place all across the United States at the same time—Fourth of July! Tacoma’s Freedom Fair has been going on for 40 years strong now, and the people in charge always go all out for this big event. Over 80,000 people attend, making it one of the biggest Fourth of July parties in the entire country. Everything is here—from live music and shows to fireworks at night. Enjoy military displays, a classic car show, a park for the kids, and over 200 different booths of arts and crafts vendors and food sellers.

Freedom Fair

Address: 2201 Ruston Wy, Tacoma, WA 98402, United States

Website: Freedom Fair

Takes place: July

Price: Free

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6. Ethnic Fest

Source: Pixabay

Come celebrate the cultural diversity of Tacoma with Ethnic Fest. This event has been going on for over 30 years and is absolutely full of great things to enjoy. Taking place over two days at Wright Park, the family-friendly festival is full of art, food, music, and dance from all over the world. Get a taste of a new dish you’ve never heard of and have a glimpse of other cultures from all over. Performer stages are set up around the park, and there is even a free movie night.

Ethnic Fest

Address: 501 South I St, Tacoma, WA 98402, United States

Website: Ethnic Fest

Takes place: July

Price: Free

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7. Daffodil Festival

Source: Pixabay

Daffodil Festival is one of the most important festivals for the people in the surrounding area of Tacoma. It is one of the longest-running events around as well. Going strong for over 80 years, Daffodil Festival takes place in April and consists of a flower parade. It is also the culmination of a yearlong selection program to deem a local high school student the Festival Queen. The area produces about 50 percent of the bulbs in the nation, with about 300 - 12,000 different varieties being grown right there in the valley.

Daffodil Festival

Address: 310 N Meridian, Puyallup, WA 98371, United States

Website: Daffodil Festival

Takes place: April

Price: Free

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8. Tacoma Pride

Tacoma Pride 2012
Source: Photo by user Brett Curtiss used under CC BY 2.0

Tacoma Pride is the premier event for the LGBT of the city. Taking place every July, the celebration is marked by parades and activities that go on through the whole month of July. The festival started from humble beginnings, with the original LGBT event being called “Out in the Park.” The popularity of the yearly gathering kept growing, and soon, Tacoma Pride took on its current iteration—with things to see and do available all month. The main parade takes place in downtown. For information on the other activities, make sure to check out the Tacoma Pride website.

Tacoma Pride

Address: Pacific Ave, South 9th St & South 7th St, Tacoma, WA 98402, United States

Website: Tacoma Pride

Takes place: July

Price: Free

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9. Tacoma Film Festival

Grand Cinema/Melino Art Center
Source: Photo by user Joe Wolf used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Tacoma Film Festival has been around for 14 years, and the organizers aim to bring some of the best films and movies to the people of Tacoma. What was once a small regional festival has grown to become the event it is today, bringing in filmmakers, industry professionals, critics, and fans alike. The happening takes place in October and has always been a venue for people in the industry to meet, socialize, and gather to discuss everything about film and filmmaking. Catch some amazing movies you might otherwise overlook—and get inspired.

Tacoma Film Festival

Address: 606 Fawcett Ave, Tacoma, WA 98402, United States

Website: Tacoma Film Festival

Takes place: October

Price: 20 - 150 USD

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10. Blues On Festival

Blues instruments
Source: Max Pixel

Blues On Festival is Tacoma’s best blues and jazz festival. It takes place in July at the height of summer, so you’ll be able to enjoy some amazing outdoor concerts. Enjoy a plethora of musicians—whether local, national, or international—and a portion of the ticket sales go to local Tacoma schools, so you can groove out while knowing it is going to a good cause. Taking place in Tacoma’s Old Town, this event lets you enjoy the neighborhood and the music that makes the area special.

Blues On Festival

Address: Old Town Tacoma, WA 98402, United States

Website: Blues On Festival

Takes place: July

Price: 20 - 60 USD

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Have fun attending Tacoma festivals

Tacoma is home to a lot of amazing festivals that are great for everyone’s tastes. Whether you’re into food or music and art or even cultural festivals, Tacoma has something fun for you. Even in the heart of winter, there is still something happening in the city.

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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Alex is a Canadian university graduate with degrees in English literature and History. He was born in Montreal and when he's not traveling he enjoys movies, video games, playing the drums and...Read more

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