Holidays

10 Memorial Day Weekend 2022 Events in Washington State Worth a Road Trip from Seattle

Plus, Some Things To Do in Town
May 13, 2022
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There’s a narrow annual window when sweet, delicate spot shrimp is in season, six to eight weeks max, and good news: Memorial Day weekend falls within it. The Brinnon ShrimpFest on the Hood Canal is the perfect opportunity to celebrate their arrival. (Brinnon Shrimpfest via Facebook)

Fun fact! Memorial Day started out in as Decoration Day in 1868 as a way to commemorate soldiers who died in the Civil War specifically, and didn’t shift to the generalized day of remembrance for all wars we now know until 1971. These days, of course, it’s also often regarded as the unofficial beginning of summer—and, since a lot of folks have the day off, it’s a great time to take a road trip. Whether you’re heading out to cruise the biggest flea market in the western U.S. or slurp up some spot shrimp in Hood Canal, we’ve got lots of interesting ideas for road trip-worthy ways to observe the holiday. Sticking around town? We’ve got a couple options for you, too.

OLYMPIC PENINSULA

2022 Juan de Fuca Festival Add to a List
The weather’s almost sorta nice enough for a day trip to the spectacular Washington State peninsula! (Well, not really, but it kind of doesn’t matter, since it’s always raining out there anyhow.) Rain or shine, the cute little Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts will be happening this weekend. Spread out between the towns of Port Angeles and Sequim, on the northern edge of the peninsula, the fest features bands, food, and crafts for the kiddos. Musical headliners include Lady A, Hiroya Tsukamoto, and the Country Lips. While you’re out there, maybe stay at the very affordable Emerald Valley Inn in Elwha, which has goats and emus, or stop by the mystical Hall of Mosses in the Olympic National Forest for an entry-level 0.8-mile forest hike. Just don’t forget your raincoat.
(May 27–29, Downtown Port Angeles, $100)

Brinnon ShrimpFest Add to a List
There’s a narrow annual window when sweet, delicate spot shrimp is in season, six to eight weeks max, and good news: Memorial Day weekend falls within it. Sure, you can get them at the upscale supermarkets in Seattle, but it’s so much better to find them at the source. The seaside hamlet of Brinnon, on the west coast of Hood Canal between Hama Hama and Quilcene, has a little food fest to celebrate the spot shrimp’s arrival each year–there are also bands and “other seafood,” and you can harvest clams and oysters with a license from the Department of Fish & Wildlife (only $17.40 online). By the way, this event’s tagline is “Welcome to Fresh Shrimp and Good Times,” which is so simple, it’s brilliant. We feel like we’ve waited our whole lives to be welcomed to fresh shrimp. 
(May 28–29, Hood Canal, $5)

The First Annual Forks Sasquatch Days Add to a List
The first, hopefully annual Forks Sasquatch Days is going on this weekend in Forks, home of sparkly fictional vampires and a very, very good Texas barbecue truck Add to a List . At first glance, this event seemed like it might be a native cultural festival of some kind, with Northwest Coast-style tribal graphics and a hazy description about speakers and vendors... but upon closer inspection, it seems to be an actual festival about Sasquatch, and the speakers (and vendors) are all Sasquatch experts who will be speaking and vending about Sasquatch. So it is, just not in the way we thought! Guess it was right there in the name, but y’know, Bumbershoot isn’t a festival of umbrellas. FWIW, it was the inclusion of a “Bigfoot documentary” titled A Flash of Beauty that gave it away.
(May 28–29, Rainforest Arts Center, Forks, $20)

BELLINGHAM

Whatcom County Memorial Day Parade Add to a List
Aw, there’s a good old-fashioned Memorial Day parade in downtown Bellingham on Saturday, with floats and clowns and horses and tooty little marching bands, after two years of canceled COVID non-parades. It’s also the 100th anniversary of the first Whatcom County Memorial Day Parade, so you know the Bellinghamsters are gonna lose their minds up in here. Shit goes down at noon at the corner of Alabama and Cornwall. 
(Sat May 28, Downtown Bellingham, free)

Ski to Sea 2022 Add to a List
Ski to Sea is Whatcom County’s own Cannonball Run, and it’s the thing where you race 93 miles from Mt. Baker to Bellingham Bay in ONE DAY by using seven different, uh, sports. Your team of between three and eight people starts off at the Mt. Baker Ski Area at 7:30 a.m. and finishes in Bellingham’s Marine Park at 6 p.m., which kind of doesn’t seem like enough time! The race involves two kinds of skiing, one of which can be swapped out with snowboarding, then running, then canoeing, then biking, then cyclocross biking (we don’t know what that is), and finally kayaking, which is distinct from canoeing. Do not try to canoe the kayak part or cyclocross the snowboard part or you are fired from this race. Winners win nothing but The Burn.
(Sun May 29, Downtown Bellingham, $599-$649 per team / free to watch)

EAST OF SEATTLE

Leavenworth Maifest Add to a List
Did you know that Leavenworth has only done the Bavarian shtick since the sixties? Before that, it was just another humble failed Washington sawmill town, until two Seattle businessmen who owned a cafe there got the idea to rip off Danish-themed Solvang, California. Anyway, Leavenworth does big business as a fake Alpine village to this day, and its month-long Maifest celebration is in full swing right now. In addition to the usual German food, drink, and dirndls, there’ll be two full days of free alphorn performances over Memorial Day weekend, by both bands and soloists. And if you’re really hardcore, you can join the four-day alphorn workshop that precedes it. BYOA. Going early? May 13–15 is also the traditional Maifest Celebration weekend, complete with maipole dancing and a Festzug (grand march).
(May 27–29, Downtown Leavenworth, free)

Illenium Add to a List
Sasquatch! Music Festival may now be defunct, but if Memorial Day is incomplete without a trip to the Gorge for you, check this out. Whether filling an amphitheater or the liminal space between euphoria and heartbreak, Illenium’s dizzying drops and soaring melodies bring an unprecedented level of genuine emotion and musical talent to the EDM soundscape. At Illenium’s sets, it is entirely possible (and okay) to dance and cry.
(May 28–29, Gorge Amphitheatre, George, $113 - $447)

Dreamworks Animation: The Exhibition—Journey from Sketch to Screen Add to a List
The pretty Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture is celebrating 25 years of animated DreamWorks films with this extremely kid-friendly exhibition, appearing for the first time in the US in lovely little Spokane. Featuring concept drawings, rare production artifacts, a giant wall-sized cartoon storyboard, interactive hands-on displays, animated film clips, and plenty of other fascinating items, the exhibition’s highlight is perhaps the digital drawing kiosks, where kids (and adults) can make their own animated movie sequence on software developed by DreamWorks for its own animators. What a super wholesome way to spend the day.
(Through Sep 11, Tues–Sun, Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, Spokane, $20)

SOUTH OF SEATTLE

Packwood Flea Market Add to a List
Tiny Packwood’s in the Cowlitz Valley, in the middle of a triangle formed by Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, and Mount Saint Helens, and it’s a rural forest town that’s really only known for two things: autocross racing and this big-ass flea market. The Packwood Flea Market happens twice a year, on Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend, in a four-acre lot on U.S. Highway 12. The five-day flea market is over a mile long and is one of the biggest in the western United States; shoppers can browse hundreds of booths hawking antiques, novelties, handcrafted gifts, food, clothes, books, jewelry, art, and probably some downright trash too, which can sometimes be the best part, eh.
(May 27–30, Packwood, free)

Craig Robinson Add to a List
This has nothing to do with Memorial Day, but actor and comedian Craig Robinson, perhaps best known either as Darryl Philbin from The Office or Doug “The Pontiac Bandit” Judy from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, will be doing a four-night stint at the Tacoma Comedy Club the same weekend. There's a secret special guest on the bill as well; Craig collaborates with Seth Rogen a lot, so like… maybe it’s that guy. Probably not. But maybe. As you may recall from just about every TV show he’s ever been in, Craig often can't help busting out the smooth R&B stylings on vox and keys, so here’s hoping he brings his little keyboard.
(May 26–29, Tacoma Comedy Club, $35–$70)


EVENTS IN SEATTLE

Northwest Folklife Festival 2022 Add to a List
This year, the Northwest Folklife Festival will be celebrating fifty-one years of wangly-ass hippie beardos playing the congas in tie-dyed parachute pants and no shirt (you know the guy we’re talking about). There’s also some great musical acts, including Boise-based world music collective Afrosonics and local tuchus-shakin’ Klezmer band Shpilkis. For those who aren’t hep to Folklife, it’s a huge open-air music/art festival at the Seattle Center, and there’s buskers and actual concerts and impromptu jam seshes, plus tons of stalls selling gorgeous food from around the world, along with ethnic arts and cultures being showcased, Oh, and there’s a bunch of cool workshops and lectures, too. It’s all real crunchy and wholesome. If you haven’t been, you should totally go.
(May 27–30, Seattle Center, free)

Museum of Flight Memorial Day Ceremony Add to a List
At long last, the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Museum of Flight is back to celebrating in person, after a pandemic-based hiatus. The Museum’s program begins with a concert by the Boeing Employee Concert Band, and a memorial service will follow, as well as a presentation about the special exhibit. A note: the BECB only played its first show since 2019 about a month ago, at the Ballard Locks, and everyone’s super pumped. 
(Mon May 30, Museum of Flight, $25)

Mill Creek Memorial Day Commemorative Ceremony Add to a List
Mill Creek may be a small-ish town, but it has its own personal Memorial Day parade. Does big, important Seattle have one of those? Answer: no. The program kicks off with a somber ceremony at the Veterans Monument in Mill Creek’s Liberty Park, which will set the parade in motion as it marches through Mill Creek Town Center. The show will feature Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, Civil Air Patrol, military vehicles, and a flyover by military jets. Dang, they go all out in Mill Creek.
(Mon May 30, Library Park, Mill Creek, free)

Free Civil War Memorial Day Walking Tour Add to a List
Up on the Queen Anne Hilltop, leafy old Mount Pleasant cemetery will host a free narrated walking tour of Civil War veterans’ graves. The tour takes an hour and a half, and you’ll hear about the histories of many of the Civil War veterans, both Union and Confederate, who’re buried in the cemetery. There will also be a portion on the history of Memorial Day itself during the Civil War era here in Seattle. Which is sort of weird to think about, since there were only about 11,600 people in the entire tri-state-encompassing Washington Territory in 1860, the year before the Civil War started, and so it’s easy to assume we Seattle folks had no role in the war whatsoever since we barely even existed back then. Wrong! Registration for the event is required, which you can do online.
(Mon May 30, Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, North Queen Anne, free)

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