If you are new to Bellingham, or considering relocating to Bellingham, you are in good company – Bellingham is a popular place to move to!
Most travelers and new locals know to check the local paper, but sometimes it can be hard to even find the local paper. Here are some of my favorite resources for finding what’s happening in town, in terms of both Bellingham news and entertainment.
Entertainment News NW for local arts and entertainment.
Cascade Weekly provides both local news, food and entertainment reporting, with a slightly farther geographic reach.
The Bellingham Herald is Bellingham's newspaper, and it also has an events calendar.
Whatcom Talk covers everything from business news to entertainment.
Fairhaven.com lists all things Fairhaven, on Bellingham’s Southside. Fairhaven is the retail and restaurant village housed in new and historic brick 1890s buildings with all local shops and restaurants, including Village Books, a Fairhaven staple. Village Books hosts many author events, book clubs, and is a long-time attraction that is active in the community. Bellingham’s Train Station and Greyhound Bus Station are located on the western end of Fairhaven.
Barkley Village is a larger-scale version of Fairhaven, with more chain retailers.
The Lynden Tribune, covering North Whatcom County since 1888!
The Ferndale Record covers all things Ferndale.
Tune to AM790 KGMI or FM92.9 KISM on the radio.
If you want to know all the dirt and right when it happens, then try Whatcom Scanner.
Not only will you learn about emergency (police, fire, etc.) events while they are happening, you can read the public’s comments – whether from a person who is on the scene, or if they know someone involved in the scene.
The Pickford Film Center and Limelight Theaters have you covered!
Yes, they have comfortable seats and popcorn, but they also offer beer, wine and a cheese plate which you can enjoy while watching a movie. They offer independent and cultural films, as well as more popular movies, including occasional sing-alongs to movies like Mama-Mia. That doesn’t mean Bellingham doesn’t have a big-screen multi-plex theatre
Bellingham’s biggest venue is the Mt. Baker Theatre. Bellingham attracts surprisingly big talent for the size of our town, because many locals support the arts, and because Bellingham is a great stop between Seattle and Vancouver, BC. MBT is also the home of the Whatcom Symphony Orchestra. MBT has been operating for more than 90 years, starting as a luxurious movie palace. Picture a gilded interior with luxurious red velvet curtains; MBT has very loyal patrons who attend a wide variety of entertainment, from Lyle Lovett to Spamalot.
Bellingham is also a College Town. That means many events available to the public in Western Washington University’s Performance Arts Center. But wait, there’s more: the Sylvia Center for the Arts and the FireHouse Arts and Events Center offer smaller venues for performance art.
Much of the art in Bellingham is centered around downtown. For example, an iconic downtown building houses the Whatcom Museum. Close-by is Whatcom Museum's Lightcatcher. Allied Arts is a smaller venue, sometimes featuring solo artists. Hint: Allied Arts is next door to the Limelight Theatre, if you want to make a night of it. Smaller galleries include Fourth Corner Frames, also downtown, Fishboy Gallery, the Lorna Libert studio in the "Old Vitamilk Building", which houses several studios that are open for the First Friday Artwalk, a perfect excuse to blend dinner and drinks in downtown Bellingham with a cruise through many of the downtown art galleries, open late for the event. Further afield, there is the Jansen Art Center in Lynden, as well as Smith & Vallee Gallery and Hadrian Art Gallery, both in Edison. I've just scratched the surface - Bellingham, with it's natural beauty and healthy lifestyle has attracted amazing artists and artisans. If you love the idea of spending time with an artist in their studio, the biggest event of the year takes place over the first 2 weekends in October, the Whatcom Artist Studio Tour.
If you like to drink beer, you have come to the right place – Bellingham has a wide variety of breweries. While Seattle has the 3rd most breweries in the US, Bellingham holds its own, with (at last count) 13 breweries. Not bad for a population of 90K! Bonus: many of the breweries are within walking distance of each other, in the downtown Bellingham core. There is even a Bellingham Tap Trail map. Don’t forget Bellingham Beer Week, which takes place each April.
Haggens Grocery Store has always been THE place to shop in Bellingham, as it was locally owned with products from plenty of local providers. Haggens has changed, since it is now owned by Safeway/Albertsons, but with four locations in Bellingham and locations in Ferndale and Skagit, it’s still a popular place to shop. Bellingham also has a Whole Foods, a Trader Joes and two Community Food Co-op stores.
As you can see, there's lots to see and do in Bellingham. What else attracts people to Bellingham? First and foremost is the outdoors, with Mt. Baker skiing and hiking and the beautiful San Juan Islands at our front door. Bellingham is home to an amazing breadth of recreational activities, with many locals and visitors taking advantage - Bellingham is an outdoorsy place. And we tend not to wait for the weather to go outdoors!
Bellingham's location between Seattle and Vancouver means that you have lots of options when you want to take advantage of the amenities a larger city provides.
And with Bellingham International Airport offering flights to the west coast and sunny spots, you can take a break from the rain, if it gets you down. More options are close-by, with Vancouver Airport, Paine Field and Sea-Tac Airport a relatively short drive away. You will see lots of Canadians at the Bellingham Airport - they like to take advantage of the smaller airport with flights to warm climates as well.
And if all that recreation leads to an injury, St. Joseph Medical Center is an impressive hospital, given the size of our town, with world-renowned cardiovascular services. Word has it that Canadians not wanting to wait for socialized medicine choose to slip down to Bellingham, which has probably boosted the services provided at St. Joseph's.
Aside from those listed above, here are a few big annual events:
Polar Bear Plunge - believe it or not, this annual dip in frigid waters on the 1st day of each year takes place in multiple locations in and near Bellingham.
Bellingham Ski to Sea - beginning in 1973, this mother-of-all-relay-races takes place each year on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, with participants coming from as far away as Europe. The race course runs through the towns of Glacier, Maple Falls, Kendall, Everson, Lynden, and Ferndale, finishing at Marine Park in the historic Fairhaven district of Bellingham. The race course begins with cross-country skiing, then downtown skiing (actually, mainly a hike up the mountain in ski gear followed by a short ski course), running (mainly downhill) road bike, canoe, mountain bike and finally kayak to ring the bell at Fairhaven's Marine Park. Participants join thousands of spectators to party in Fairhaven, with a huge street fair, beer gardens, food, etc. There are categories for teams (with up to 500 teams participating), with a HUGE age range of participants. There are specialized categories for participants who don't use a car to get to any part of the race, for corporate teams, veterans, high school teams, etc. Participants include beginners dressed in tutus to former Olympic Athletes, so from beginning to end this is an all day event (some teams are still on their first legs when the elite teams are ringing the bell in Fairhaven). And for younger athletes, there is a Junior Ski to Sea race that takes place the weekend before, as well as a fun Junior Ski to Sea Parade.
4th of July Fireworks - sponsored by Haggens, there are family-friendly activities at Squalicum Park, followed up with fireworks around 10:30PM. Yes, it takes that long to be fully dark in Bellingham in the summer! Fireworks are shot from a barge in Bellingham Bay, but can be seen from many places throughout Bellingham.
Bellingham Festival of Music - as I mentioned, Bellingham is blessed with amazing artists and loyal appreciation for those artists. The annual festival of music takes place each July and attracts top-quality talent from across the country. A fun tradition is for locals to host performers in their home while they are here for the event, which includes performances in multiple venues over 3 weeks.
Check out the resources at the top of this page for other Bellingham events.
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