Tacoma Events in 2020: The Top 50 Things To Do This Year

From Tame Impala to David Sedaris to The SpongeBob Musical
by Dave Segal, Kevin Yeoman, Leilani Polk
December 29, 2019
Head down to Bikini Bottom when Nickelodeon's The SpongeBob Musical comes to Tacoma. (Playbill)

It’s never too early to begin planning for the year ahead, and you’ll have plenty of entertainment options for 2020 in Tacoma. Below, we’ve rounded up the concerts, stand-up performances, and community events that are worthy of a spot on your calendar right now. From concerts like Tame Impala to the comedic stylings of Nate Bargatze and David Sedaris, and even The SpongeBob Musical, Tacoma has plenty to keep you busy in the year ahead. We've also included major events in surrounding cities, like the 16th Annual Oktoberfest Northwest in Puyallup. You can also check out our entire calendar of Tacoma-area events here. Happy planning!


New! Subscribe to Our Weekly Email Newsletter

Starting Friday, January 31, we'll email you once a week with our suggestions for the best things to do in Tacoma, from movies to concerts to the arts.

 


JANUARY 10

SPORTS & RECREATION

Monster Jam
The action-packed motorsports show Monster Jam will return to Tacoma. Ooh and ahh as trucks fly and flip through the air.

WEED

CannaCon Northwest
For the seventh year, the business-to-business cannabis conference CannaCon will come to Tacoma for its flagship expo featuring hundreds of exhibitors across the weed industry. 

JANUARY 20

MLK DAY

Community March for MLK
This community march begins at Bates Downtown campus and will work its way to the Greater Tacoma Convention Center for the city's Martin Luther King Jr. event. 

JANUARY 25

MUSIC

Ozomatli
The Los Angeles-based band and multi-Grammy Award-winning outfit delivers a modern Latinx sound that encompasses hip-hop, funk, reggae and more. These "cultural ambassadors" are characterized by their creativity and festive spirit. 

JANUARY 26

PERFORMANCE

The Peking Acrobats
These acrobats are a special effect unto themselves. Trick cycling, tumbling, and gymnastics are just part of the show as the performers defy gravity and demonstrate an astonishing mastery of agility and grace. 

FEBRUARY 4

MUSIC

Chastity Belt
After nearly a decade, the all-women four piece is firing on all cylinders, making the kind of music they want to make and delivering a unique indie-rock sound that's earned them plenty of accolades and fans. 

FEBRUARY 14

MUSIC

Blake Shelton
Dad-joke-shiller and ex-mulleted country crooner Blake Shelton will bend Tacoma to his Top40 appeal with additional guests on his Friends & Heroes 2020 nationwide tour.

FEBRUARY 18

MUSIC

Tacocat
The Seattle-based outfit has been cranking out tunes for over a decade now, engendering themselves to audiences with a mix of wryly humorous songs and feminist pop-punk. 

FEBRUARY 25

MUSIC

Lyle Lovett & His Acoustic Group
With 14 albums under his belt, the musician and actor has become an institution unto himself. Now, the acclaimed performer launches a new tour with his Acoustic Group. Together they cover a variety of genres, offering elements of country, folk, jazz, and even gospel. 

MARCH 4-5

MUSIC

Joseph
The Oregon-based sisters and bandmates have avoided the sophomore slump with their second album, Good Luck, Kids, a collection of songs highlighting the band's signature storytelling and emotional complexity. 

MARCH 5

PERFORMANCE

Nickelodeon’s The SpongeBob Musical
Head to Bikini Bottom as everyone's favorite anthropomorphic dishwashing apparatus takes the stage for a little song and dance, featuring a cast of Grammy winners and eye-popping sets from a Tony Award-winning design team. 

MARCH 13

COMEDY

Gabriel Rutledge Comedy Night Live
In a recent interview, Central Comedy Show's Henry Stoddard and Isaac Novak singled out Gabriel Rutledge as perhaps the Seattle area's funniest comic—a view reinforced by Rutledge winning the Seattle International Comedy Competition and his frequent major TV appearances. Working in the familiar territory of family life and its countless frustrations and sorrows, Rutledge finds many quirky angles from which to squeeze distinctive humor out of everyday situations. His bit about parents desperately trying to snatch a couple of spare minutes to have sex might ring all too true for many. Happiness Isn't Funny is the title of his book and the guiding principle behind his unerring humor. DAVE SEGAL

MARCH 14

ST. PATRICK'S DAY

Paddy O'Party
St. Patrick's Day celebrations should offer more than just green beer. The South Puget Sound's biggest party delivers games, prizes, food, and live music in addition to all that Irish cheer. 

The 12th Annual Bud Light St Paddy's Day Run Tacoma
Tacoma's largest St. Paddy's Day party aims to get revelers moving with a race for every kind of runner. There's a half-marathon, relay, 10K, 5K run/walk, and a 1K jaunt for the kids. 

MARCH 14-15

MUSIC

Lucky 2020
USC Events' annual spring festival, and the biggest shamrock-themed EDM party in Washington, will come to Tacoma for the ninth year of green and gold everything. Break out your glow sticks and prepare for "a Celtic-inspired land where whimsical creatures, boundless providence, and good fortune abound"—or, at least, heavy-hitter headliners that will keep you dancing for two straight nights.

THROUGH MARCH 15

VISUAL ART

Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth.
This traveling Smithsonian show highlights the achievements of African American men, from the Harlem Hellfighters to John Coltrane to LeBron James.

MARCH 21

MUSIC

Brantley Gilbert Fire't Up 2020 Tour
Things will get country-fried when the Fire't Up Tour stops off in Tacoma as part of its massive 30-plus-date tour that brings headliner Gilbert as well as Chase Rice, Dylan Scott, and Brandon Lay to the stage. 

APRIL 4

FESTIVALS

87th Annual Daffodil Parade
The year's parade theme is "Honoring the Past," a fitting conceit given the annual Pierce County floral festival and parade—complete with daffodil-covered floats—is intended to celebrate the history and traditions of the area, as well as the flowers that grew in the Puyallap Valley nearly a century ago. 

The HUMP! Film Festival
Change the way you see porn and celebrate sexual expression with a rousing, sex-positive festival comprised of amateur short films that run the gamut from shocking to funny to titillating.

APRIL 10

MUSIC

Billie Eilish
Her sultry, silky, dulcet vocals have an old-soul quality, and her songwriting feels catchier and more mature than her 17 years would suggest. Which is likely why LA pop maker Billie Eilish has jetted to the top of charts worldwide with five singles off her debut full-length, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, that preceded its release (it peaked at No. 1 in 20 countries, and debuted at the top of our own Billboard 200, with the third-largest streaming numbers for an album by a female artist ever). She's like the American version of Lorde, but her music belongs more on the late-night spectrum with dark, moody, grooving and thumping production qualities. LEILANI POLK

APRIL 15

MUSIC

Celine Dion
Even if you only know her for the Titanic soundtrack, everyone knows Celine Dion is a legend. The pop superstar is going strong on her Courage World Tour, which will stop in Tacoma. 

APRIL 18-19

FESTIVALS

Tacoma Kennel Club Dog Show
Some very good dogs will be on hand at this all breed dog show set to crown Best Puppy and Best BBE (Bred-By-Exhibitor), as well as feature displays of canine obedience, scent work, and more. 

APRIL 25-26

FESTIVALS

Tacoma Guitar & Drum Festival
Musical geniuses and guitar-playing novices alike will probably find something of interest at this two-day event. There'll be over 120 booths, as well as guitar and drum workshops, and plenty of live performances. 

APRIL 27-28

VISUAL ART

Tacoma Wayzgoose
Printed works get their due in this digital age with the 15th annual installment of this letterpress and book arts event. Local printers and artists will be on hand creating new works, and attendees are encouraged to craft a variety of products themselves.

MAY 2

MUSIC

Sturgill Simpson
Fresh off his 2019 animated album Sound & Fury, the Grammy winner is joined by bluegrass-folk-country artist Tyler Childers on A Good Look'n Tour. 

MAY 6

COMEDY

Nate Bargatze
After the success of his Netflix special, The Tennessee Kid, the charming, deadpan comedian expands his tour dates to bring more wry humor and extremely relatable anecdotes to the masses. 

MAY 9

SPORTS & RECREATION

The Great Inflatable Race Tacoma
Why run on terra firma when you can race on a bouncy, inflatable obstacle course? Get ready to unleash your inner child as you bump and slide all the way to the finish line.

MAY 16

FESTIVALS

Rainier Dragon Boat Festival 2020
Thea's Park on the Foss Waterway welcomes the Tacoma Dragon Boat Association for a free community event and race that's been going strong since 2000. 

MUSIC

Journey, The Pretenders
Ever-present torch-holders of the '80s, Journey and the Pretenders will bring their light-rock-less-talk vibes to the Northwest for a night of hair-swinging and piano solos reminiscent of Steve Perry's golden years.

MAY 17

READINGS & TALKS

David Sedaris
The acclaimed humor writer brings the wry wit of his hilarious personal essays and short stories to a speaking engagement that's sure to draw a crowd.

OPENING MAY 23

VISUAL ART

René Jules Lalique: Art Deco Gems from the Steve and Roslyn Shulman Collection
The influential French glass designer crafted everything from jewelry to vases to hood ornaments, noted for their contributions to the Art Deco style popularized in the 1920s and 1930s. The Museum of Glass, through the Steven and Roslyn Shulman collection, explores Lalique's creative genius and his long-lasting contributions to the art world. 

MAY 29-31

FESTIVALS

Weekend of Wizardry Year 2 - Harry Potter Fan Event
Don your robes and practice your spells for the second annual fan event celebrating everyone's favorite bespectacled boy wizard and the magical world that's become the most influential piece of pop culture since the story set in a galaxy far, far away.

MAY 30

COMEDY

Paula Poundstone
The famed comedian, author, and podcast host brings her special brand of wry observational humor and dry wit to her latest stand-up tour. 

JUNE 3

MUSIC

Alanis Morissette, Garbage, Liz Phair
'90s singer-songwriter legends Liz Phair and Alanis Morissette are on tour with an arsenal of iconic breakup songs, along with industrial grunge band Garbage. 

JUNE 5

MUSIC

The Temptations
The R&B and soul legends hit the road for a new concert tour with plenty of musical favorites and Grammy-winning hits from the quintet's legendary musical career that's been going strong since the 1960s.  

JUNE 6

MUSIC

Brandi Carlile, Sheryl Crow & Yola
Echoes Through the Canyon brings together a trio of award-winning female musicians for an early summer concert series that features some of the biggest and up-and-coming names in pop rock and alternative country music. 

JUNE 19-21

FOOD & DRINK

Taste of Tacoma
Specialty food vendors, live music and other entertainment, cooking demonstrations, and cook-off battles are all part of this tasty two-day festival.

OPENING JULY 1

VISUAL ART

Warhol and the West
See pop-art icon Andy Warhol's obsession with the American West manifested through well-known paintings like Elvis and Cowboys and Indians.

JULY 11

MUSIC

Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth
Amidst health scares and rumors of retirement, Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, and Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne will bless the Pacific Northwest with his passionate heavy metal and will show thousands of people why he has always been the Prince of Darkness. He'll be backed by faithful collaborators Zakk Wylde, Blasko, Tommy Clufetos, and Adam Wakeman, with iconic Los Angeles metal group Megadeth supporting for the entire North American run of this finale tour. 

AUGUST 3-4

GEEK

Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire
This annual festival will return to Bonney Lake's Kelley Farm (aka the village of Merriwick) for three weekends of jousting, chicken legs, and other Medieval fun. 

AUGUST 7

MUSIC

Tame Impala
Somehow the will of music-industry titans and the whims of music-consumer taste have converged, launching Australia’s Tame Impala as one of the big-festival psych-rock bands of the mid 2010s. Their debut album Innerspeaker introduced mastermind guitarist/vocalist Kevin Parker as an ambitious auteur prone to firmament-filling, heavily FX’d guitars and vocals that take John Lennon’s in “#9 Dream” to the heavens. Parker’s managed the rare feat of making rock songs that sprawl and possess memorable hooks while not ignoring the crowd-pleasing power of prominent, funky beats. Ironic that the guy who wrote the lovely “Solitude Is Bliss” now performs before several thousand people per show. DAVE SEGAL

AUGUST 15

MUSIC

Maroon 5, Meghan Trainor
Perennial billboard-charters Maroon 5, currently riding the waves of their latest big hit "Memories," will crest in Auburn on their worldwide tour with support from Meghan Trainor. 

AUGUST 18

MUSIC

 

Harry Styles, Jenny Lewis
Harry Styles, the pop scene darling, folk-pop-rock star, and young Mick Jagger-Elton John hybrid, will visit our fair region with a tour stop in Tacoma. Indie rock queen Jenny Lewis will open for his North America dates.

 

AUGUST 22

FESTIVALS

2nd Annual Battle of the Burger Festival Washington
Be a judge as burgers battle it out to be named the best in Washington. This competition runs the burger gamut, with everything from beef to chicken to seafood and even vegan options on hand to satisfy tastebuds and vie to earn the title of Best Burger in Washington. (More information coming soon.)

SEPTEMBER 4-27

FESTIVALS

Washington State Fair
The first days of autumn coincide with the latter portion of the annual Washington State Fair in Puyallup, which brings family-friendly activities like rides and games, carnival food, free music and performances, baby animals, cultural events, produce contests, a rodeo, live concerts, and much more.  

SEPTEMBER 5

MUSIC

The Doobie Brothers
You may have caught them on Washington tour stops with ZZ Top and Santana in the past, but now the San Jose-bred roots-rock group the Doobie Brothers will take the stage as headliners on their 50th Anniversary Tour.  

SEPTEMBER 19

MUSIC

KISS
Despite Gene Simmons' political fanaticism and the band's many schisms over the years, iconic makeup metal group KISS is still gigging hard and will hit the Pacific Northwest on their End of the Road World Tour, marking the chosen finale of their tenure as a band.

OCTOBER 2-4

FOOD & DRINK

16th Annual Oktoberfest Northwest
Oktoberfest NW is Western Washington's largest Munich-style "festhalle biergarten," complete with German food, bier, dancing and entertainment. They also offer Hammerschlagen, a German drinking game involving a hammer, nails, and a tree stump. 

OCTOBER 8-15

FESTIVALS

Tacoma Film Festival 2020
Tacoma plays host to independent filmmakers from the Pacific Northwest and throughout the world in an intimate festival intent on examining community and showcasing perspectives from a diverse group of moviemakers.

OCTOBER 31

MUSIC

Dan + Shay
Singer-songwriter duo Dan + Shay have been hard at work prepping their latest self-titled album, and will play hits from their last three releases while on this arena tour.