Summer Guide 2011: Festivals

From the arts to food, here’s our guide to the area’s best summer fests.
Posted June 27, 2011

JULY

Bellingham Festival of Music
7/1, 7/5, 7/9, 7/10, 7/13, 7/17
What to expect: Six evenings of classical and chamber music performed by the Bellingham Festival Orchestra, comprised of top musicians from all over the country and conducted by longtime festival artistic director Michael Palmer. 
Insider Tip: Throughout the course of the festival, various master classes taught by musicians will be offered to help hone your skills and get inspired.
Times and prices vary. Western Washington University, Bellingham Cruise Terminal Atrium and PAC Concert Hall, 516 High St., Bellingham; 360.201.6621

35th Annual Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival
7/2–7/4
What to expect: Plenty of free, hands-on nautical activities for all ages. Build a toy boat, sail a model boat, take a boat ride (are you getting the theme?) or watch boat makers construct and race their craft on the spot in the hilarious “Quick and Daring” race.
Insider Tip: With only a limited (not to mention expensive) parking spaces available in South Lake Union, your best bet may be to kayak to the Wooden Boat Festival. A kayak rack will be made available to those up for the challenge, and what a better way to get in the boating spirit?
Free. Saturday through Monday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Lake Union Park and Center for Wooden Boats, 1010 Valley St.; 206.382.2628

Enumclaw’s King County Fair
7/7 – 7/10
What to expect: The oldest fair west of the Mississippi celebrates its 149th anniversary with a slew of arts, crafts and entertainment. Add in the usual 4-H activities and you’ll have a full day of fun at the fair.
Insider Tip: The carnival is still going strong this year with games, food and rides. Check the website for a money-saving ride coupon.
$5. Thursday, 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m. – 10 p.m.  Enumclaw Expo Center, 45224 284th Ave. SE, Enumclaw; 901.867.7007

Redmond Derby Days
7/8-7/9
What to expect: The nation’s longest running bicycle race celebrates its 71st anniversary with a traditional bike “criterium” (a multi-lap race on a closed course). Non-stop pedal action is guaranteed for riders and spectators, plus all-day festivities such as a beer and wine garden, carnival rides, music, free games and two parades.
Insider Tip: As a grand finale, the festival ends with fireworks at City Hall.
Free. Friday, 6 p.m. –10 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. City Hall Campus, 15670 NE 85th St., Redmond; 425.556.2299

Skagit Valley Highland Games & Celtic Festival
7/9–7/10
What to expect: Put on your kilt, grab your bagpipes and head to this “Scottish 3-Ring Circus,” which offers many authentic competitions including bagpiping, drumming, fiddling, dancing and traditional Scottish athletics. After you’ve given your all to the contests, indulge in the food, beer garden and whiskeys of the world.
Insider Tip: Kick off the weekend with a free Friday night concert (7/8) by Fred Morrison. Direct from Scotland, Morrison is one of the best known pipers in the world. He will be accompanied by his wife, accomplished Scottish fiddler Deirdre, to infuse traditional Scottish piping with Bluegrass styling.
Prices vary. Friday Concert, 7 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m.–7 p.m., Sunday, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Edgewater Park, 600 Behrens Millett Road, Mount Vernon; 888.416.4934

26th Annual Seafair Indian Days Pow Wow
7/16–7/17
What to expect: Each year this fest draws ten thousand spectators to celebrate Native American culture and heritage with drum groups, vendors and hundreds of dancers. Traditional foods such as Indian tacos, fry bread and a salmon bake will satisfy your hunger as you anticipate the crowning of the Pow Wow Princess.
Insider Tip: Don’t miss the Grand Entry at 7 p.m. on Saturday, and 1 p.m. on Sunday.
$5 . Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center, 3801 W Government Way, Discovery Park; 206.285.4425

Vashon Island Strawberry Festival
7/15–7/17
What to expect: What could be better than starting the day with an all-you-can-eat Kiwanis pancake breakfast? But before you dive into the syrup, check out the street dances Saturday night featuring the Portage Philharmonic. This weekend-long festival goes well beyond strawberries, with a classic car parade, wine and jazz, the Bill Burby Inspirational 10k/5k Fun Run and five music stages to keep you groovin’ all weekend long.
Insider Tip: For the second year in a row, the beer garden will be serving up micro, craft and all the best brews from local Western Washington breweries. To just say “no” to a pitcher of blah Bud and “yes” to local microbrew goodness, head over to Vashon Village (across the street from Ober Park and the Chamber of Commerce) for a cold one, or two.
Free. Friday, 6 p.m.–9 p.m. (beer garden runs until midnight); Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Downtown Vashon, along the Vashon Highway; 206.463.6217

Bite of Seattle
7/15–7/18
What to expect: Sixty-plus Seattle-area restaurants and 450,000 hungry folks swarming Seattle Center. Crowd-pleasing food zone The Alley, hosted by Tom Douglas, returns with a slew of local high-end restaurants contributing gourmet items to a delicious $10 buffet. Plus, thanks to the continued success of the Just A Bite tasting booths (offering smaller portions for $3.75), the Bite is expanding this area to include more restaurants.
Insider Tip: Heart conscientious foodies need not shy away from this food fest. Each participating restaurant will include at least one vegetarian or reduced-calorie item for those watching what they eat.
Free admission. Prices vary. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.–9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.–8 p.m. Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St.; 425.283.5050

Kirkland Uncorked: A Festival of Art, Style & Taste
7/15–7/17
What to expect: At Kirkland’s annual wine festival guests can sample local bottles in the wine garden, shop in the mini boutiques, explore local art in the promenade and taste gourmet cuisine.
Insider Tip: Puppy lovers won’t want to miss CityDog magazine’s Cover Dog Model Contest Sunday at noon (open to all pooches with $10 entry fee!).
$15-$25. Friday, 2 – 10 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.- 10 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Marina Park, 25 Lakeshore Plaza, Kirkland; 206.633.0422

Wedgwood Art Festival
7/9-7/10
What to expect: A neighborhood art fair that that is serious about going local: the fest only showcases the work of Northeast Seattle artists, though artists from other ‘hoods can get special permission to exhibit.
Insider Tip: In addition to showcasing the wares of jewelry designers, painters and photographers (to mention just a few of the disciplines on display), the festival features food, music, and loads of kid-friendly fun. Pirate show? Count us in!
Free. 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Hunter Farms Tree Lot, 7744 35th Ave. NE

Renton River Days
7/22–7/24
What to expect: Celebrate the 26th annual family festival that explores the heart of Renton. Arts and crafts, food, two stages of live entertainment and a petting zoo are all part of the exciting line-up for this event. Not to mention the recently expanded KidZone, with inflatable rides and a slew of kid-friendly activities.
Insider Tip: The most popular event is the Rubber Ducky Derby, where participants drop their ducks from the Houser Street Bridge at 4:30 p.m. (7/24) to watch them race down the rapids. Spectators can gather on the river trail to watch.
Free. Times vary. Liberty Park, 1101 Bronson Way N, Renton; 425.430.6528

Capitol Hill Block Party
7/22–7/24
What to expect: The sweatiest, loudest, most rockin’ party of the summer, packed with local music talent and young hipsters swarming Capitol Hill’s Pike/Pine corridor.
Insider Tip: With more than 60 bands (Ravenna Woods, THEESatisfaction, and The Head and The Heart to name a few) performing over three days, make a list ahead of time to make sure you don’t miss your favorites.
$27.50-$75. Times vary. Between Pike Street & Pine Street and Broadway & 12th, Capitol Hill

AUGUST

Seafair Weekend
8/5–8/7
What to expect: Still going strong after 61 years, Seafair is one of Seattle’s oldest and most wide-ranging summer celebrations. Perennial crowd pleasers include the Blue Angels air show, hydroplane races on Lake Washington, the Torchlight Parade downtown, a milk carton boat race on Green Lake and countless other family friendly events designed to get Seattleites outdoors and enjoying the sunniest time of the year.
Insider Tip: Head to Genesee Park for “Free Friday” (8/5) where you can watch the practice hydro/airshow (to take place on Saturday and Sunday) without the $25 admission price.  
Prices, times and locations vary; 206.728.0123