By Stacee Sledge
It’s here again: the holidays and all the joy (and bustle) they bring. To help keep your itinerary jolly, rather than chaotic, WhatcomTalk has compiled many of the most popular events taking place across Whatcom County throughout the season.
Peruse our list and choose the ones you would like to include for your family’s holiday merrymaking.
Tree Lighting Ceremonies & Events, Holiday Décor
Fairhaven Tree Lighting Ceremony
A big part of the Fairhaven Holiday Festival is its annual lighting of the trees at the Fairhaven Village Green. This year, the lights go on Saturday, November 28 at 5:00 p.m., accompanied by a performance from the Bellingham High School’s Showstoppers.
Downtown Bellingham Tree Lighting Ceremony
Join the jolly crowds gathered at Depot Market Square on Friday, December 4 for the always-popular downtown Bellingham tree lighting ceremony, with festivities starting at 5:30 p.m. Special guest Mayor Kelli Linville will light the majestic tree. Santa will be on hand amidst holiday music, and The Woods Coffee will provide refreshments. While you’re there, take a stroll through the 2nd Annual Pop-Up Gift Market at the Bellingham Farmers Market, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. before hitting Art Walk at various downtown spots. Gather in front of the Flatiron Building at 7:30 p.m. to view a holiday light show presented by Bellingham Wins and Sensebellum.
Downtown Ferndale Holiday Tree Lighting
Downtown Ferndale kicks off the holiday season with a tree lighting ceremony in Centennial Park on Friday, December 4 at 5:00 p.m. Complimentary cookies and cocoa will be available, and Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive by fire truck and pass out candy canes.
Blaine’s Annual Christmas Tree Lighting & Holiday Harbor Lights
Blaine’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony is part of its larger Holiday Harbor Lights festivities. Over two days — December 4 and 5 — folks can enjoy music, refreshments, caroling and much more while ambling through downtown Blaine.
The tree lighting takes place on Saturday, December 5 at 4:30 p.m. at H Street and Peace Portal Drive. Santa arrives via fire truck at 5:00 p.m. and will visit with young ones at the Blaine Pizza Factory at 738 Peace Portal Drive. Free horse-drawn trolley rides are available between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Revelers can then take in the glittering wonder of dazzlingly decorated boats as they sail through Drayton Harbor between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Deck the [Old City] Hall with Whatcom Museum
Celebrate the holidays at Old City Hall, decked with sparkling lights and two floors of decorated trees during the annual Deck the [Old City] Hall at Whatcom Museum, Thursdays through Sundays, November 27 through January 3, from noon to 5:00 p.m. Little ones can also visit with Santa on Saturday, November 28 and Sunday, November 29 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. 121 Prospect Street in downtown Bellingham.
Holiday Tree Lighting at Hotel Bellwether
The community is invited to the Hotel Bellwether for a reception on Saturday, December 5 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. to celebrate the holiday season waterside. Vote for your favorite tree, have a picture taking with Santa, enjoy festive music, holiday treats and beverages. Trees decorated by local businesses are on display throughout December. Vote for your favorite by donating new or gently used clothing for children 13 and under or giving a monetary donation to Skookum Kids. Voters are entered to win a one-night stay in the Lighthouse Suite. One Bellwether Way in Bellingham.
Festivals, Annual Polar Bear Events
Fairhaven Holiday Festival & Art Walk
Santa himself kicks off this year’s Fairhaven Holiday Festival & Art Walk, visiting with families from 3:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. on Friday, November 27 at the gazebo on the corner of Harris Avenue and 10th Street. The festival includes the annual Lighting of the Trees at the Fairhaven Village Green, Fairhaven Holiday Art Walk, free carriage rides, and more.
Holiday Carriage Rides In Fairhaven
Make your way through Fairhaven’s charming streets in a horse-drawn carriage, just as they did so long ago. Head to the front door of the Fairhaven Village Inn between noon and 3:00 p.m. every Saturday between Thanksgiving and December 19 for free rides.
Holiday Port Festival and Gingerbread House Contest
If you’ve been to the Holiday Port Festival, you know how impressive the Gingerbread House Contest can be. But that’s not all there is to take in, as the Bellingham Cruise Terminal nearly bursts with local bands, choral groups, dancers, children’s art activities, Santa and Mrs. Claus, and much more.
Enjoy complimentary cookies and hot apple cider, and then cast your vote for your favorite gingerbread house in an array of categories. Local photographer Mark Turner of Turner Photographics will also be on hand with Mr. and Mrs. Claus for photographs on Friday from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The Holiday Port Festival and Gingerbread House Contest takes place Friday, December 4 from noon to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday, December 5 and Sunday, December 6 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Visit the Port of Bellingham’s website for specific times for more information.
Olde Fashioned Christmas at Ferndale’s Pioneer Park
Experience the Christmas season as it was back in the pioneer days, as Ferndale Heritage Society members dress up in pioneer costumes and lead visitors back in time through a dozen decorated log homes. There will be hands-on crafts for children, old-fashioned games, music and a working general store where visitors can buy pioneer-style Christmas gifts. Families can also take their own photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Tickets are $4 for adults and $3 for children. 2004 Cherry Street in Ferndale. Friday, December 4 from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Saturday, December 5 from 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Sunday, December 6 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Lynden Lighted Christmas Parade
Lynden’s 25th annual Lighted Christmas Parade kicks off at 6:00 pm on Saturday, December 5 with the Lighted Christmas Parade, a string of carolers and a glittering display of lighted trucks, cars, floats, wagons, farm equipment, and more. The procession starts at Fairway Center and travels along Front Street and throughout charming downtown Lynden.
Everson-Nooksack Winter Festival
Bring the whole family and join in the fun at the Everson-Nooksack Winter Festival on Friday, December 4 at 6:00 p.m. at Everson City Park. Santa and his elves will be there, along with free hot cocoa. The first 150 children to visit with Santa receive a goodie bag. 111 West Main Street in Everson.
Sleighbells Ring: A Family Christmas Tradition at BelleWood Acres
Beginning Friday, November 27 and running through the holidays, the festive folks at BelleWood Acres will offer shopping and sipping galore, with a bonfire s’more bar, hot cider and pumpkin spice liqueur sippers, cookie decorating and ornament-making for the kids, and more. Santa joins the fun on the weekends of December 12 – 13 and 19 – 20, with horse drawn sleigh bell trolley rides. Find all the details at www.bellewoodfarms.com.
Annual Ring of Fire and Hope, Birch Bay Polar Bear Plunge
Birch Bay celebrates the transition into each New Year with two popular events: the Annual Ring of Fire and Hope, at 7:00 p.m. on December 31, and the Birch Bay Polar Bear Plunge on January 1, both sponsored by the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce.
The Ring of Fire and Hope brings together hundreds of participants who light road flares along the Birch Bay shoreline, turning the bay into a ring of fire and signifying hope for the coming year.
The next day, hundreds of Birch Bay Polar Bear Plunge participants leap into the bay’s frigid waters (and quickly jump back out) to welcome 2016 refreshed – and, no doubt, shivering. The event — first launched in 1982 — draws hordes of onlookers and cheerleaders. Prizes are given in several categories ranging from Most Years Plunging and Oldest Participant to Best Individual/Group Costume and Farthest Traveled Participant.
Lake Padden Polar Dip & Resolution Run
Another option for a free frosty New Year’s Day dunking takes place at Lake Padden with the Padden Polar Dip, preceded by the Resolution Run-Walk around the lake’s 2.6-mile loop. The run/walk begins at 11:00 a.m., followed at noon by the dip. Those crazy enough to jump in can warm up afterward with coffee and hot cocoa.
36th Annual Holiday Allied Arts Holiday Festival of the Arts
The season’s longest-running holiday marketplace, Allied Arts’ Holiday Festival of the Arts is celebrating 36 years of bringing the work of local artisans and craftspeople to holiday shoppers. This year’s festival brings more than 100 vendors together to offer reasonably priced handmade products, which range from jewelry and repurposed art to paintings and specialty foods¾and more. Each weekend is chock full of activities for all ages, including live music, artist demonstrations, and fun art projects.
The festival runs November 20 through December 24, open seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving and at 3:00 p.m. on December 24. 4145 Meridian Street in Bellingham.
Bellingham Farmers Market Pop Up Gift Market
In a collaboration with the Downtown Bellingham Partnership and the City of Bellingham, the Bellingham Farmers Market will offer its second annual Pop-Up Gift Market on Friday, December 4 at the Depot Market Square from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., in conjunction with the Tree Lighting and Downtown Art Walk. Vendors will offer an assortment of local gift options you simply won’t find anywhere else.
Downtown Bellingham Art Walk
Art Walk takes place every first Friday of the month, but the Holiday Art Walk only happens once a year! Hit the downtown streets on Friday, December 4, right after the Tree Lighting Ceremony at Depot Market Square, and uncover truly unique holidays gifts dreamed up by talented local and regional artists.
Fairhaven Holiday Art Walk
Stroll historic Fairhaven and wander in and out of its charming boutiques, bookstores, galleries, eateries, and more. Many locations will have special exhibits and unique events, with the streets done up in their festive best. Friday, November 27 from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday, November 28 from noon to 8:00 p.m.
Blaine Holiday Art and Gift Market
Sponsored by the Blaine Harbor Art Gallery, the Blaine Holiday Art and Gift Market takes place Friday, December 4 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday, December 5 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the Goff Building at 674 Peace Portal Drive in Blaine.
Blaine Homemade Arts and Crafts Christmas Bazaar
Peruse homemade gifts at the Blaine Senior Center on Friday, December 4 and Saturday, December 5 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. during the Homemade Arts and Crafts Christmas Bazaar. 763 G Street in Blaine.
Pacific Arts Holiday Market
This year marks the 19th annual Pacific Arts Market in Bellingham, taking place over three weekends in December. Find gifts created by dozens of local artists and crafters: from jewelry and fine art to home décor and specialty foods. There will also be live music and artist demonstrations. December 4 through 6, 11 through 13 and 19 through 20 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Sunset Square, 1125 East Sunset Drive in Bellingham.
Make.Shift’s 5th Annual Make.Sale
Celebrate (and support!) the talented folks who make Bellingham so unique at Make.Shift’s Make.Sale on Saturday, December 5 from noon to 6:00 p.m. (Psst: you can preview the sale during Arts Walk on Friday, December 4 from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.) Bringing together more than a dozen local artists and crafters, this year’s craft fair will showcase the work of Tumbler Mountain Glass Project, Localmotive Jewelry Creations, Remedios The Beauty Clothing, Cat Sieh, Osteal jewelry, Sea Holly Beauty Company, Feral Felt, Cordial Waters, Rinyrinri polymer clay creations, Vil’s Herbarium, and more. The Black Drop Coffeehouse will also be there with coffee, hot tea, cider, and warm winter cocktail options. 306 Flora Street in downtown Bellingham.
Shop Small Saturday
The Downtown Bellingham Partnership helps mark Small Business Saturday with its own spin on the event, Shop Small Saturday. Visit downtown on Saturday, November 28, and support small businesses while enjoying a wide array of goodies amid festively decorated streets, sidewalks, and shops. Watch for a roaming Santa Claus, buskers and more.