Olympia Events, Things to Do and Festivals 2014 / 2015
(Olympia, Washington - WA, USA)
Although the winters in Olympia are relatively mild, the warmer spring and summer months are when many of the biggest annual festivals and things to do come to the foreground, often being held at the Thurston County Fairgrounds. Highlights include a biannual Arts Walk (spring and fall), Independence Day celebrations (July 4th), Earth Day fireworks, seasonal markets and fairs, and an air show extravaganza.
In the middle of May, the Wooden Boat Fair at the Percival Landing Park is the perfect distraction for families. Other events at this time of the year include the Boatswap and Chowder Challenge at the Swantown Marina, as well as the Capital City Marathon, which sees crowds gather at Sylvester Park.
The Capital City Pride event in June sees a colorful gay parade through downtown Olympia, while in July, the extremely historic five-day Lakefair Festival sees thousands head to the shoreline of Capitol Lake. On the last day of the fair, the Washington State Capitol's lawn soon fills up with people eager to watch the evening fireworks.
Olympia Calendar of Festivals and Events 2014 / 2015
- Polar Bear Plunge - January 1st, at Long Lake, Lacey, within 15 minutes of Olympia. Hot drinks and campfires proceed a jump into (and quickly out for some) the lake.
- Oshogatsu - Japanese New Year festival including dancing and music, Taiko drumming, crafts, bonsai tree displays, food and much more.
- Old Time Music Festival - concerts, workshops and square dancing held around downtown Olympia.
- Blintzapalooza - a fundraiser hosted by the Temple Beth Hatfiloh since 1988. Visitors can buy used books, eat blintzes (thin pancakes) and enjoy the food competitions.
- Spring Arts Walk - fourth weekend in April, lasting two days, visual and performing arts are displayed downtown in local business premises. The event also includes the Luminary Procession and the Procession of the Species (Earth Day).
- Dragon Boat Festival - late April, at Port Plaza, and hosted since 2006 by Saint Martin's University, Lacey. Dragon boat races, lion dances, martial arts displays, Chinese traditional music and art exhibitions draw crowds exceeding 4,000 people.
- Olympia Wooden Boat Fair - second weekend in May, held downtown at the Percival Landing Park. As well as exhibiting a variety of types of boats, the fair also showcases local musical talent. Children can enjoy creating their dream craft in the Boat Building Booth.
- Boatswap and Chowder Challenge - local restaurants participate in a clam chowder cook-off held at the Swantown Marina, whilst boat enthusiasts swap boat paraphernalia.
- Capital City Marathon - mid-May, starting at Sylvester Park, participants can enjoy a massage, food and music after the race.
- America's Classic Jazz Festival - late June, at St. Martins University, Lacey. Dance floors at the venue enable visitors to dance and listen to the many bands playing.
- Capital City Pride - mid-June, a LGBT gay pride event which is based at the downtown Sylvester Park and was first held in 1991, now drawing up to 15,000 people.
- Music in the Park - held in Sylvester Park on Wednesday evenings, this is a free concert series running in July and August since 1979.
- Olympia Lakefair Festival - mid-July, a five-day fair at Capitol Lake originally held in 1957. Carnival rides, a parade and a fireworks display finale ensure that there is fun for all.
- Brew Fest - at Port Plaza, more than 30 breweries from Washington and Oregon showcase over 60 types of beer, along with food vendors and live music. This is an important fundraiser for the Thurston County Chamber Small Business Development Program.
- Sand in the City - at the Hands On Children's Museum, on the East Bay waterfront. This three-day event includes a team sand sculpture, a gala for adults and beach parties for the whole family.
- Movies at the Mansion - held Friday nights throughout August on the lawn of the Lord Mansion's State Capital Museum.
- Olympic Air Show - held at the Olympia Regional Airport and hosted by the Olympic Flight Museum.
- Bon Odori festival - a Japanese dance extravaganza held at Water Street, in downtown Olympia. Bon Odori includes folk dancing and traditional Japanese drumming.
- Olympia Harbor Days - Labor Day Weekend, late August / early September. Harbor Days is a true celebration of tugboats, with entertainment, history and food.
- Morningside Ride - mid-September, a fundraising driving scavenger hunt race, held on a Sunday in the middle of the month.
- Fall Arts Walk - a well-supported two-day community display of local arts and crafts.
- Downtown for the Holidays - Sunday after Thanksgiving, late November / early December, featuring wagon rides for children, the Gingerbread Holiday Cottages Competition, the Highlanders Pipes and Drums performance, a parade and much more.
- Olympia Film Festival - various different movie screenings, held at the Capitol Theater.
- Olympia Toy Run - early December, a motorcycle rally providing toys and money for the Salvation Army and children in need. The rally is watched by thousands of spectators along its route.
- Parade of Lighted Ships - early December, at Port Plaza and Percival Landing, spectators can view boats sailing by, bedecked with colorful lights for the holiday season.