Tacoma Events in 2020: The Top 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
My Chemical Romance is making a comeback! Don't miss their October show at the Tacoma Dome.

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!


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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. 

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 Puyallup 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.

MUSIC

SLANDER Presents The Eye Ft. Dylan Matthew
Massively popular EDM duo SLANDER will host and perform at this dance music showcase with additional selections by The Eye with Dylan Matthew.

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

FOOD & DRINK

Beecher's Cheese For All - Tacoma
For this touring event, local chefs will prepare mac and cheese and cheeseburgers made with Beecher's various cheeses and Mishima Reserve Wagyu beef.

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.

APRIL 28

MUSIC

Rage Against the Machine, Run the Jewels
Highly political thrash-rock band Rage Against the Machine has regrouped for the new decade with a cross-country arena tour with Run the Jewels.

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.

MAY 23

MUSIC

Brad Paisley, Jordan Davis, Gabby Barrett
Top 40 country hunk Brad Paisley will take over the Gorge for a night of Americana hits and opening support from Jordan Davis and Gabby Barrett.

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 24

MUSIC

James Taylor & His All-Star Band, Jackson Browne
Folksy Americana pop anthem leader James Taylor will bring his easy living sensibilities to Tacoma with his All-Star Band and Jackson Browne in tow.

MAY 29

MUSIC

Tool
The 13-year wait for Fear Inoculum, the latest album by slithery quartet Tool, seemed borderline excessive—an impious gestation period that promised either an abomination or a glorious new evolutionary stage for heavy-lidded prog-metal. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. The album’s 10 tracks stay the course with unusual time signatures, shuddersome production techniques, and touches of sly humor. At the same time, the canvas Tool is using feels much bigger, as they let musical ideas stretch out and grow and allow for grooves that are easier to sink into and get comfortable within. At least until the knives come out.ROBERT HAM

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 2

MUSIC

Halsey, CHVRCHES, Omar Apollo
Pop star Halsey went from "up and coming" to completely explosive in a matter of a few years. She'll take over Washington on her Manic world tour, with CHVRCHES and Omar Apollo in tow.

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 4

MUSIC

Steely Dan, Steve Winwood
Maybe no classic rock act so deserves a modern reassessment as Steely Dan. The ostensibly square yacht rock band—composed of Donald Fagen, the late Walter Becker, and an army of intensely talented studio musicians—blended soft rock with advanced jazz theory. Never nerdy enough to be called progressive, never swaggering enough to make cock rock, Steely Dan were the sophisticated wallflowers of the 1970s, a dark mirror to the jocular Eagles. Underneath their über-geeky exterior lurked a dark, sarcastic, and cutting lyrical intellect. The sharp irony of, say, Father John Misty or even David Byrne has no precedent without Fagen singing “Deacon Blues.”JOSEPH SCHAFER

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 10

MUSIC

Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams
In 1986, Bon Jovi rose from the swamps of New Jersey, climbed to the top of the glam-metal heap, and became one of the most prominent features on the pop charts. Then the '90s happened: Kurt Cobain, grunge, the year punk "broke." Dollar bins be damned, Bon Jovi bounced back, and now they're dragging Bryan Adams along for a chance at redemption.BRIAN COOK

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.

JUNE 20

MUSIC

Chris Stapleton, Margo Price, The Dirty Knobs with Mike Campbell
Nashville-based singer-songwriter Chris Stapleton's All-American Road Show will return to Washington State for a summer night of country-rockin' with Margo Price and the Dirty Knobs.

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 7

MUSIC

The Black Keys, Gary Clark Jr., Jessy Wilson
Back in 2002, when I lived in Cleveland, I'd catch the Black Keys in small venues like the Beachland Tavern. Nothing about the scrappy Akron, Ohio, blues-rock duo screamed out "potential rock megastars"—not even their decent cover of the Beatles' "She Said, She Said." To be honest, nothing still screams out "rock megastars," but there's no denying these rust-belt muthas worked hard to reach their rarefied heights. They may seem ultra-meat-and-potatoes-y to me, but Dan Auerbach can sing with barrel-chested, Paul Rodgers-esque soul and grind out catchy guitar riffs all damn night, and drummer Patrick Carney's perfectly functional and unflashy.DAVE SEGAL

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. 

JULY 18

MUSIC

Foreigner, Kansas, Europe
Upon forming in 1976, Foreigner were a low-key supergroup featuring ex–Spooky Tooth guitarist Mick Jones and Ian McDonald—the guy who did much of the weird stuff on In the Court of the Crimson King. Like their peers Kansas and Styx, Foreigner was a well-oiled pop machine masquerading as a “serious” rock band. Their self-titled debut remains one of the more listenable relics of the AOR era precisely because of how poppy it is. The one-two opening punch of “Feels Like the First Time” and the McCartney-worshipping “Cold as Ice” is masterful sequencing, but even non-hits like the woozy “Starrider” and “The Damage Is Done” are significantly meatier than your average 1970s diet-rock filler. The real star, however, is Foreigner’s erstwhile lead vocalist Lou Gramm, who, along with Steve Marriott, could be classic rock’s most underrated singer. (Circus magazine famously remarked that Gramm possessed a voice “Robert Plant might envy,” and he probably did.)MORGAN TROPER

JULY 25

MUSIC

Megadeth and Lamb of God
Explosive LA heavy metal band Megadeth (featuring former Metallica member Dave Mustaine) will rip through Auburn on their Metal Tour of the Year co-headlined with Virginia's Lamb of God. Trivium and In Flames will provide additional thrashing. 

AUGUST 1

MUSIC

The Weeknd, Sabrina Claudio, Don Toliver
Prepare yourself for a deluge of LED lights on wildly popular Canadian hip-hop/R&B artist the Weeknd on this tour stop in support of his new album, After Hours.

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 8

MUSIC

Backstreet Boys
Now that their Vegas residency is long over, the well-coiffed, nostalgia-pop-belting blood brothers of the Backstreet Boys will stop in Seattle on the second round of their DNA World Tour.

AUGUST 15

MUSIC

The Lumineers, Gregory Alan Isakov, Daniel Rodriguez
Indie folk-rock crown-holders and Washington sons the Lumineers will return to the region this summer for an evening with Gregory Alan Isakov and Daniel Rodriguez on their III: The World Tour.

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.)

AUGUST 23

Janet Jackson
I heard Janet Jackson’s Control playing in Rudy’s on the Ave one day, and thought, shit, we need to put this near the top for 1980s albums. Sure, Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam plotted the reductionist signature sound, but hey, Janet Jackson’s big brother had brilliant collaborators he didn’t even bother to thank most of the time. A bit more humble that the mighty Mike, she told their evil father Joe to step off (he wanted the whole thing done under his thumb in Los Angeles) and bounded over to Minneapolis (the unlikeliest cool town apart from ours?). The rest, of course, history, and a lot of sweat. ANDREW HAMLIN

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 15

MUSIC

Matchbox Twenty, The Wallflowers
Relive the most earnest moments and deeply alt sounds of the '90s and '00s with slick frontman Rob Thomas and his crew of Matchbox Twenty, with guest opener the Wallflowers.

SEPTEMBER 16

MUSIC

Sammy Hagar & The Circle, Whitesnake, Night Ranger
Rock legend Sammy Hagar has decades worth of classic material, and he won't hesitate to break it all out on his tour with Whitesnake and Night Ranger.

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.

Roger Waters
Roger Waters is, of course, a founding member of Pink Floyd, one of the greatest psychedelic rock bands of all time, genre pioneers that formed in the 1960s and came up hard in the 1970s with albums like The Wall, Animals, and The Dark Side of the Moon. Both Waters and former bandmate and sporadic foe David Gilmour have issued original solo material (actually, Gilmour released a few albums and toured under the Pink Floyd flag until 1994, which is partially why he and Waters were at odds), but both have continued to hit the road on the Floyd gravy train, because everyone still wants to hear those old songs in a live setting.LEILANI POLK

SEPTEMBER 26

MUSIC

New Order, Pet Shop Boys
Writing about New Order at this point in musical history feels a bit superfluous: "Blue Monday" remains the biggest-selling 12-inch of all time, its inescapable melody familiar to everyone from the black eyeliner crowd to businessmen dozing off on their 11-hour flight to Hong Kong. Formed in the wake of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis's suicide, New Order traded in that group's morose post-punk for a keyboard-and-drum-machine-based synth-pop sound, in the process inventing a whole new vocabulary for both dance music and pop. Suddenly you could be goth, romantic, mod, or glow-stick-wielding rave kid, and all get down to the same thing. Throughout it all, New Order have stuck to their guns, refusing to become a casino-gigging legacy act and remaining vital performers. Their importance to modern music can't be overstated, and if I need to tell you that, then you have some catching up to do. Consider this show remedial homework.KYLE FLECK

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 4

MUSIC

My Chemical Romance
Genre holdouts My Chemical Romance will bring their particular brand of EMP charm back to our fair region on their nationwide 2020 tour.

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 17

MUSIC

Zac Brown Band
Singer and bandleader Zac Brown is pretty much on perma-tour, sharing his roughly hewn sound around the country with his backing band. He'll take over the area for an evening, playing tracks from his collection of platinum-certified studio albums.

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.