There are few activities more satisfying on a warm summer evening than listening to live music outdoors — especially when the cost is absolutely free. For years, Bellinghamsters have enjoyed free outdoor summer concerts in city parks and downtown. This year’s lineup is as promising as ever, with a variety of musical styles represented. Expect lots of funk, blues, and rock and roll. But most of all, expect a rollicking good time. With abundant tunes, sunshine, food trucks, bikes and bare feet, it doesn’t get much more Bellingham than this.
Put on by the City of Bellingham’s Parks and Recreation department, Concerts in the Park is a summer-long series held at three of Bellingham’s finest city parks. Food is available for purchase at all three venues, with local food trucks serving up the goods. Biking, walking, and taking the bus are always encouraged at these events, as parking fills up fast. Bring a blanket and some snacks, and get ready to dance!
1. Elizabeth Park Concert Series
The Elizabeth Park Concert Series kicks off June 23 and runs through August at Bellingham’s oldest park. Every Thursday through August from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., you can relax on the grass beneath 100-year old trees in the historic Columbia neighborhood. Now in its 19th year, Elizabeth Park Concert Series is co-sponsored by The Eldridge Society. Check out last year’s coverage for a look behind the scenes.
And the music? Expect everything from rock n’ roll and Celtic-infused songs to “cookin’ blues” from a variety of local artists.
June 23: Midnight Legend (rock n’ roll)
June 30: CC Adams Band Featuring Mary Ellen Lykins (tasty rock/cookin’ blues)
July 7: Scary Monster and The Super Creeps (David Bowie tribute band)
July 14: Flattery (Celtic-infused songs)
July 21: The Mountain Flowers (summer sounds)
July 28: Swing Connection Featuring Cheryl Hodge (big band)
August 4: bandZandt (east county’s favorite rock band)
August 11: Sonja Lee Band (blues)
August 18: Out of the Ashes (mixed rock)
August 25: Naughty Blokes (American rock band)
2. Boulevard Park Concert Series
Arguably Bellingham’s favorite park, bayside Boulevard Park provides a scenic setting for summer jams. Shows run between 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. on Saturdays, with dates in July and August. This year, Bellingham’s own Snug Harbor and Maggie’s Fury will bring the funk and “celtic mayhem,” respectively. Seattle artist Eldridge Gravy and the 13-member Court Supreme will pack the stage with even more funk, while Picoso rounds out the sound with Latin grooves. Stick around after each show to watch the sunset over Bellingham Bay.
3. Music at Maritime
Previously underutilized as an entertainment venue, the amphitheater at Maritime Heritage Park is perfect for live music. Wednesday evening shows will run 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in August. Enjoy soul, roots, and R&B on the lawn, in the shadow of Old City Hall. Bellingham’s own supergroup Baby Cakes will kick things off, followed by longtime local favorites Polecat. Seattle’s Staxx Brothers will bring their brand of hard soul on August 24 to close out the season.
4. Downtown Sounds
Now in its 13th year, Downtown Sounds has become a beloved Bellingham tradition. This summer concert series is put on annually by the Downtown Bellingham Partnership and sponsored by The Beauty Institute Schwarzkopf Professional in 2016.
While it is comparable to Concerts in the Park for all the right reasons — namely free outdoors live music and abundant food choices — there are some notable differences. You’ll be standing on Bay Street instead of sitting in the grass, giving you one less reason not to dance. Two bands will play each night. And Boundary Bay Brewery will provide a beverage garden for adults 21 and over. Combining standing-room-only crowds with music and drinks a-flowing, Whatcom County’s biggest urban outdoor music festival is also its most danceable.
Wednesday shows begin at 6:00 p.m. and end at 9:00 p.m. The Downtown Bellingham Partnership and City of Bellingham have taken each other’s schedules into consideration, so you’ll never have to choose between Bay Street and Maritime Heritage Park on a Wednesday night. As an added benefit, Bellinghamsters can enjoy concerts every Wednesday from July 6 to August 24 between the two venues.
Downtown Sounds attracts a number of out-of-town artists, from Seattleites The Dip and Marmalade to Portland-based Fruition and Lyrics Born out of Berkeley, California. Local favorites Rabbit Wilde round out the headliners. Each group will be supported by an opener for that true festival feel.
July 6: The Dip with The Austerman File (soul/funk/blues)
July 13: Marmalade with Snug Harbor (soul/funk/dance)
July 20: Fruition with Vaudeville Etiquette (folk rock/Americana)
July 27: Rabbit Wilde with Heels To The Hardwood (folk rock/Americana)
August 3: Lyrics Born with Mo Stafa’s Super Group (funk/hip hop)
Bellingham’s outdoor summer concert series’ are family-friendly and free for all. See you out there!