Prepare to have fun!
Avid outdoors folk already know all about the incredible hiking trails through the Olympic National Forest and the Ho Rain Forest. Happy beach combers walk along the shores of the Pacific Ocean looking for shells and tsunami debris. Water lovers boat and kayak around the bays and into picturesque little inlets. Ravenous vampire seekers have mapped out their visit to Forks months in advance. But what about the rest of the visitors, those without a set agenda? If your opinion of the great outdoors is that it’s best seen on the big screen, and you’d happily put a stake through every vampire you see regardless of how sparkly he is, the small towns on the Olympic Peninsula have some surprisingly big things to offer. Spread throughout the summer, our festivals offer a wide range of events that you will enjoy experiencing while your rugged outdoor buddies are slapping mosquitos and hiding from bears.
Olympic Music Festival
On Center road, partway between Quilcene and Route 104, lies the site of the Olympic Music Festival. From the end of June through the first weekend in September, a turn of the century dairy farm plays host to some of the best classical musicians around. The weekends are often themed (such as “Songs of Love”, “Fireworks for Violin and Piano”, or “The Schubert Festival”). Concerts take place in the barn with unreserved seating; consider arriving early if you plan to sit inside. The grounds are beautiful with plenty of suitable picnic spots if you choose to go a little more cheaply and enjoy the music from the lawn.
Dates: Last weekend in June – first weekend in September. Friday/Saturday only
Where: Just outside of Quilcene
Cost: $18-$33, Barn tickets, $14-$20, lawn seating
The Lavender Festival
The sweetest summers happen in Sequim (pronounced “Squim”). A great climate for lavender, the area around is dotted with purple farms, six of which offer tours during this fun and fragrant festival. The street fair offers crafts, music, food, and of course, lavender. Grab a lavender latte as you wander the booths and head up to the Antique and Exotic Car Show (Sunday). Sip your lavender wine as you listen to the free concerts on the main stage. Fill your lavender colored shopping bag with lavender soaps and creams as you head home in a car scented with your new lavender sachets. For a break from the all the flowers, head down to the Dungeness spit for a nice walk in the sand.
Date: Late July
The Forest Festival
This is what you think of when you think of old time logging – men and women with chainsaws who aren’t afraid to use them. Not only will you learn about logs and trees and all kinds of foresty stuff, you will also finally figure out what birling is. I know, how have you lasted this long without that word in your vocabulary? (Ok, it’s log rolling. That ‘stand on a log in full lumberjack gear and try not to fall in the water’ log rolling.) In fact, you will learn all kinds of new words for things, like, there’s a word for trying to cut all the way through a log with a single cut using a saw that’s three times as long as you are tall. Yep, one word. Watch brave souls speed climb trees, throw axes and fell lumber. After all that lavender from last month you’re gonna need some of this raw edged danger and sharp objects to restore yourself.
Date: Late September
Where: Port Gamble
Cost: In conjunction with Old Mill Days, entry fee $8
Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival
The second weekend in October, Port Angeles is taken over by crabs, and the crabby people who love them. Most events are in covered arenas with just a short dash through the rain to the next fishy frolic. Watch local chefs prepare their favorite seafood dishes, sign up for the 5K run, or participate in the scary sounding “Grab-a-Crab” derby. Plenty of food vendors are set up at all venues to keep your strength up for browsing the merchant and craft booths. Not a fan of small meals? The Crab Fest is available all day Saturday and Sunday and hey, they take Canadian! Great Demos by the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, the Feiro Marine Life Center, and the United States Coast Guard sneak a little education into the fun.
Date: The second full weekend in October
Where: Port Angeles
Cost: All the looking is free, some events have separate tickets
The Great Port Townsend Bay Kinetic Sculpture Race
Ok, this isn’t really a festival, but if you missed this event in Early October because I neglected to include it in my list you’d never forgive me. This is what it’s all about – art, science, engineering, a reigning kween and a kostume ball. To tell you that this is a human powered land/sea race does not capture the passion with which participants discuss their contraptions all year long. Leave your business suit at home and put on some glitter ‘cause this is all about fun.
Date: Early October
Where: Port Townsend
Cost: Self respect
There you have it, all the adventure that can't be found on a mountain top. From the serious classical music that starts the season, to crazy boat bikers splashing their way to fame, you can spend a lavender scented summer having a great time and chowing down on seafood. Motivate yourself to get out of the city and hop a ferry to where it’s really happening – the Olympic Peninsula. We’ll never be able to do things as big as they do in Seattle, so we’ve settled for doing them a whole lot better. You’ll see.