Our month-by-month list of free and cheap things to do in the Puget Sound region includes mostly free or cheap events (those with admission of $15 or less). For higher priced events that are popular or unique, we point out ways you can save on admission and other expenses. These lists are revised throughout the year to update events that have ended and organizers have published new dates for the coming year.
On these monthly lists, you will find music and food festivals, art and craft fairs, flower shows, county and state fairs, specialty shows, and regional favorites such as the Skagit Tulip Festival, SIFF, Northwest Folklife, Seafair, and Bumbershoot. Every month you can find something around the Sound that is fun and interesting to do, often for free, and usually for less than a sawbuck ($10), or maybe two.
We don’t list plentiful events with admission tickets above $15, such as beer and wine festivals, 5K runs, many concerts, and other shows. We’re all about free and cheap.
Besides free, cheap, or discount admission, many fairs and festivals offer additional activities for a fee, which can make them not free or cheap. There is often food for purchase. There may be other activities such as face painting or amusement rides. And of course, there are often vendors selling various arts, crafts, and other items. Our best advice is to plan ahead: eat before you go or picnic on the way, share food, paint the kids’ faces before you head out, or otherwise decide what, if anything you will spend money on.
Either way, most fairs and festivals on these lists have plenty of free fun, including live entertainment, demonstrations, window shopping, and people watching.
Below we highlight some of the key events for each month. Click through to each monthly page for a complete list of fairs and festivals, plus a few event details including discount tickets or passes, directions and parking, optional paid activities, and other information, including a link to the event website.
January free and cheap things to do in Seattle and around Puget Sound
The big event for January is the Seattle Boat Show indoors and on the water, featuring motor, sail, and rowing boats of all sizes, plus accessories for all sorts of fun on the water, and free fishing and boating seminars. It’s also the beginning of the season for home and garden shows, wedding shows, and RV shows. In addition, there’s a sportsmen’s show and train show in Puyallup, boombox festival in Seattle, Worlds Quickest Theater Festival at ACT, a couple of film festivals, and a kickoff for the Lunar New Year at Seattle Center. For a getaway, head to Leavenworth for the Bavarian-themed town’s winter IceFest.
February free and cheap things to do in Seattle and around Puget Sound
The big shows in February are the Northwest Flower & Garden show, Seattle RV Show, and Seattle Home Show. But there are several small film festivals, plus other outdoor recreation and hobby shows. Unusual shows of note include the Arlington Stillaguamish Eagle Festival, Ground FROG Day in Snohomish, and Northwest Regional Yo-Yo Championships at Seattle Center.
Lunar New Year occurs somewhere in the last ten days of January and the first twenty days of February, nearly halfway between winter solstice and spring equinox and there are Lunar New Year celebrations around the region. In 2019, Lunar New Year begins February 5, 2019 and it is the Year of the Pig.
March free and cheap things to do in Seattle and around Puget Sound
In March, the big events are MusselFest at Penn Cove on Whidbey Island, fun regional Holi Festivals of color, and the St. Patrick’s Day parade (always on the Saturday before March 17) and Irish Festival the same weekend at Seattle Center, plus a slew of other festivals and shows featuring recreational activities for a wide variety of interests, ethnic foods, music, and film.
April free and cheap things to do in Seattle and around Puget Sound
Key events in April are the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, Daffodil Parade in Tacoma (and four other cities throughout the south Sound), spring Restaurant Week at Puget Sound restaurants, the fascinating Wayzgoose Book & Print Festival in Tacoma, and the Cherry Blossom Festival at Seattle Center, plus a myriad of other fairs and festivals featuring a mix of indoor and outdoor activities, including music, food, and a variety of other interests. For a getaway, there’s a crab festival on the Washington Coast and the Apple Blossom Festival in Wenatchee.
May free and cheap things to do in Seattle and around Puget Sound
The first Saturday in May marks the official beginning of the boating season in the waterways surround the Seattle-Tacoma Metro area and there are a few water-related maritime festivals around the Puget Sound region, along with a number of food, music, and ethnic festivals. The second Sunday in May features many activities for Mother’s Day. The 25-day SIFF Film Festival begins mid-May. And two fairs also mark the unofficial beginning of the summer season: U-District StreetFair (3rd weekend) and Northwest Folklife (Memorial Day Weekend). Of course, the official start of summer isn’t until July 5, when the rainy season stops…or so we always hope.
June free and cheap things to do in Seattle and around Puget Sound
Summer really starts to ramp up in June with over 50 street fairs and community festivals all around the region, most featuring regional and/or ethnic activities, food, and local music. It’s hard to pick any favorites. You may even want to try and get to two festivals every weekend, but you’ll still barely scratch the surface. There are several Pride parades and festivals. And the local strawberry season typically happens in mid-June and lasts 2-3 weeks. If you’ve only bought big California berries, you’ll find Washington berries to be smaller, darker, softer, and sweeter–commercially they’re grown for the frozen berry market. The first Seafair-sanctioned community events take place in June, with many more to come in July and August as Seattle’s summer-long celebration continues.
July free and cheap things to do in Seattle and around Puget Sound
Another huge month for community fairs, music festivals, and art events. The 3-day Bellevue Arts Fair is a regional favorite. Bite of Seattle and the Tacoma Food Truck Fest cook up some deliciousness along with many other food festivals and food truck events around the region. Watch for pow-wows and Native American festivals in July-August. From July-September you can attend several county and state farm fairs, this month in Enumclaw for the King County Fair. Outdoor concerts are featured during the lunch hour in Seattle and Bellevue. Outdoor movies light up in parks throughout the region. Seafair festivals continue in neighborhoods throughout the city and the Torchlight Parade happens on the Saturday night the week before Seafair Weekend (first Sunday in August). For getaways, consider the Sequim Lavender Festival or Onion Festival in Walla Walla.
August free and cheap things to do in Seattle and around Puget Sound
The biggest event in August is Seafair Weekend (Friday-Sunday that includes the first Sunday in August) and there are many other food, art, and community festivals every other weekend throughout the month, including Hempfest on the Seattle waterfront. On a more somber note, August 6 is the day we remember Hiroshima with floating lanterns on Green Lake at dusk in Seattle. The Evergreen State Fair kicks off in Monroe and runs for 10 days through Labor Day Weekend. And the month-long Washington State Fair kicks off late in the month. For getaways, check out the Omak Stampede, Morton Loggers Jubilee, Washington State Garlic Fest in Chehalis, Makah Days Celebration, Tumbleweed Music Festival on the Columbia River in Richland, and the International Kite Festival in Long Beach. (Whew!)
September free and cheap things to do in Seattle and around Puget Sound
The festival fever pitch of July-August trails off, but not my much with several festivals every weekend throughout the month. Some of the most popular events include the Boats Afloat show on South Lake Union, the Greek Festival at St. Demetrios in Seattle, and some early Oktoberfests (because September weather is more reliable for outdoor events than October!). State fairs wind up in Monroe and Puyallup. For getaways, try the Central Washington State Fair in Yakima and Autumn Leaf Festival in Leavenworth.
October free and cheap things to do in Seattle and around Puget Sound
October features several film festivals, Oktoberfests, the Earshot Jazz Festival in venues around the region, some fall home and RV shows, and fall Restaurant Week, plus Halloween events and pumpkin patches. For a getaway, there’s the Crabfest in Port Angeles, OysterFest in Shelton, and cranberry festivals in southwest Washington.
November free and cheap things to do in Seattle and around Puget Sound
Highlights for November include Day of the Dead events, Veteran’s Day parade and commemorative events, film festivals, comedy festivals, Thanksgiving events, and Black Friday shopping along with art, craft, and gift shows in every corner of the region. Christmas lights turn on Thanksgiving Weekend after the parade in downtown Seattle, Santa starts showing up for photo ops, and the Argosy Christmas ships start plying the inland waters to bring holiday music to fans on the water and along the shores.
December free and cheap things to do in Seattle and around Puget Sound
December is about gift bazaars, Christmas lights and Carols, live reindeers, decorated trees, carriage rides, and other holiday events. Skiiers ask Santa for snow and hope the ski season gets underway soon if it hasn’t already. For a getaway, head for the Christmas Lighting Festival in Leavenworth.