Seattle is nearly surrounded by fresh and salt water. This city is inextricably linked to fishing and maritime industries, pleasure boating, and waterfront activities.
Residents in the Puget Sound region enjoy a wide variety of activities on the water, in motorboats, sailboats, and a wide variety of paddle boats, including kayaks, canoes, and standup paddleboards or SUPs.
Boat shows and waterfront festivals often have a theme or focus. All offer a fun day on the docks and on the water. Whether you own already own boat or want to get into water activities, shows and festivals are a great way to get more information about boating and water activities of all kinds.
Boat shows, waterfront festivals, and maritime events in the Puget Sound region
Listed below are briefs descriptions of some of the key annual boat shows and maritime festivals throughout the Puget Sound region. For more details, click on the link for each event and check our calendar below for upcoming shows and festivals.
Scroll down for a calendar of upcoming Boat Shows, as well as Waterfront Festivals and other Maritime Events.
(Listed alphabetically by city. Seattle festivals listed alphabetically by name.)
Anacortes Waterfront Festival is all about letting out your inner sailor and embracing life on the water. This early June event has something for everyone: an open-air car show, food vendors, arts and craft booths, children’s activities, giant slides, water balls, dinners and dances, live music and entertainment, wine and beer garden, and more. Take a free boat ride. Kids can enjoy hands-on activities include building wooden sail boats and games. Learn about the waterfront environment and wildlife. Food vendors offer everything from pulled pork sandwiches to Gyros, Mexican tamales, hotdogs, sweet treats, and more. Relax in the beer garden with live music and sea shanties. When: summer. Free admission.
Deer Harbor Marina Wooden Boat Show on Orcas Island features wooden boats of all sizes: kayaks, rowboats, motor launches, day-sailers, cruising sailboats, and historic tall ships. Most boats moor at the Deer Harbor Marina and are available for public viewing at no charge. It is held the first weekend of September every year and takes place between two of the West’s biggest wooden boat gatherings, Victoria’s Wooden Boat Classic, and Port Townsend’s Wooden Boat Festival. When: September. Free admission.
Des Moines Waterland Festival is a Seafair sanctioned, 3-day weekend festival on the waterfront includes free activities and live music. Saturday evening there is a kid’s parade followed by a grand parade on Marine View Drive from south to north. Sunday there is a car show. Plus enjoy food trucks, beer/wine garden, Kids Carnival ($15-$20 for day pass), pony rides and petting zoo (priced separately–rates on site). Paid parking in the marina. When: summer. Free admission.
Kitsap Harbor Festival is the opening of the summer boating season in Bremerton. The Port of Bremerton Marina fills up with boaters, historic ships, tugboats, and the USS Turner Joy. At this family friendly festival, you can enjoy the food and beer garden, visit crafts vendors, take your picture with a pirate, and enjoy the view of along with music and entertainment. When: summer. Free admission.
Olympia Harbor Days celebrates the region’s maritime heritage with arts, crafts, food, music, tugboats, tall ships, and plenty of family fun on the Olympia Waterfront from Port Plaze to Percival Landing (map). Lots of free activities as well as paid cruises and excursions from $20-$80. When: summer. Free admission.
Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival is the largest wooden boat festival in North America, Kids and adults alike can experience the beauty of wooden boats, the magic of getting on the water, and the richness of the Pacific Northwest maritime culture. Bring your family, learn from the experts, and swap stories with fellow wooden boat aficionados. When: September. Ticketed event.
Poulsbo Classic Car & Boat Show in the Historic Downtown districts features shopping, food, drinks, and hometown fun including vintage and classic cars and boats, and kids’ activities. Proceeds benefit the SEA Discovery Center. More info: https://www.historicdowntownpoulsbo.com/. When: September. Free admission.
Seattle Boat Show is the West Coast’s Largest Boat Show featuring more than 1,000 recreational watercraft, from stand-up paddleboards to superyachts and everything in between. The Boat Show also has acres of accessories, all the latest gear, and dozens of free boating and fishing seminars. When: winter. Ticketed event. Get info about Seattle boat show discounts.
Seattle Boats Afloat show presented by the Northwest Yacht Brokers Association (NYBA) is recognized as the largest floating boat show on the West Coast. The floating boat show dates back to 1978 and showcases a world-class fleet of power and sailing yachts. The Boats Afloat Show takes place on the water at South Lake Union. When: fall and spring. Ticketed event.
Seattle Classic Workboat Show. Come down to Lake Union Park to the Historic Ships Wharf and see a collection of visiting working vessels: tugboats, fishing boats, and emergency response vessels. Activities for the whole the family, sea storytelling, and a beer garden. When: spring. Free admission; donations gratefully accepted.
Seattle Fishermen’s Fall Festival is a day of celebration and free fishing-related fun. It celebrates the return of the North Pacific fishing fleet to the terminal and also works to increase the public’s knowledge of the fishing industry in our region, while raising money for the Seattle Fishermen’s Memorial Foundation. Families will find it’s a fun and educational outing on the waterfront as well as an opportunity to learn more about seafood. Hands-on free children art projects include the popular toy boat building and “Fishing for Fun” fishpond. Other highlights include a Salmon BBQ (best deal on the waterfront!), The Reptile Man in a fantastic and educational performance, Salmon Fillet Contest, and Survival Suit Races. When: fall. Free admission.
Seattle Maritime Festival in Ballard is not your ordinary festival. It’s Seattle’s largest celebration featuring the maritime industry. Highlights include a tour of Seattle’s inland waterway–the ship canal, plus working boat tours, boat building for the kiddos, demonstrations and displays, and hands-on practice of several maritime skills. Want to pilot a tugboat or a ferry boat? Try your hand at welding? Fire an emergency flare? Or be in a Survival Suit Race? Toss a line? Practice with the U.S. Coast Guard? Learn the 7 steps of survival at sea? These are just some of the things you can do. It’s a Family Fun Day featuring more than 30 free activities. When: spring. Free admission.
Seattle Seafair Weekend is the culmination of Seattle’s quintessential festival. It’s an exhilarating rite of summer, complete with thundering hydroplane boats on the water and an air show overhead. One of Seattle’s favorite traditions at Genesee Park in south Seattle on Lake Washington, the day features the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, hydroplane race competitions, and pro wake boarders performing incredible stunts. Mix in food vendors, beer gardens, live music, and activities for the whole family, and you have one spectacular weekend. General Admission gets you into the fair; bring a blanket, chairs, etc. to sit along the grassy (hard, bumpy) shoreline. If you want to sit in the bleachers, you need a more expensive ticket. When: summer. Ticketed event. Get more info about Seafair Weekend discount tickets.
Seattle Wooden Boat Festival at the Center for Wooden Boats (CWB) on south Lake Union is an old-fashioned, down-home waterfront festival where everything is fun, nothing much is fancy, and almost everything is free. It’s as authentically grassroots American as you can get. The festival celebrates the history, craft, and culture of traditional wooden boats large and small, everything from a six-foot dinghy to 100+ foot sailing schooners. There are dozens of historic sailing and rowing vessels from the CWB collection, and many other historic private vessels brought to the show by their proud owners. Jump aboard these classic sailboats and motorboats to meet the owners. When: fall. Free admission.
Tacoma Maritime Fest on the Foss Waterway Seaport features historical and industrial vessels including motor, sail and specialty boats – some are free for boarding, plus exhibits, dockside tours, day sails, kids’ activities, storytelling, food, entertainment, a garage sale, and more. When: summer. Free admission.
But wait, there’s more!
- Find more boat shows, maritime events, and waterfront festivals.
- Find the latest free and cheap things to do this weekend.
- And here’s a list of 101+ always free things to do for fun.
- Find free and cheap things to do every day on the Greater Seattle on the Cheap calendar.
- Visit the Greater Seattle on the Cheap home page and choose from a menu of free and cheap activities in the Puget Sound region.
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Upcoming Boat Shows, Waterfront Festivals, and Maritime Events
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