6 Can't-Miss Outdoorsy Summer Festivals Near Seattle

Hikers celebrating summer
Hikers celebrating summer BLM Oregon and Washington
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Once the June gloom burns through, summer in Seattle can feel like an urban amusement park designed for people who love to be outside. The days are sunny, warm (but not too warm), and long, providing the ideal conditions to explore the city’s defining woods, lakes, and sea. And what better way to celebrate summer’s arrival than with other outdoor lovers who are equally excited for the abounding opportunities to run, hike, paddle, or climb?

There is no shortage of seasonal events and summer festivals near Seattle, and 2015 is no exception. Here are some of the best that will throw you into a mix of like-minded folks, challenge you to do something wild or fun, and guarantee a good time outside in that wonderful summertime sun.

1. Climb: Leavenworth Rockfest, June 13-14

A boulderer pulling hard at Leavenworth
A boulderer pulling hard at Leavenworth skiermatt2

The rock jumbles outside Leavenworth , the quirky Bavarian-themed tourist town, quickly rose to fame over the past two decades for the perfectly puzzling bouldering problems that lay within them. Now is the time to put your winter gym training to the test at Leavenworth Rockfest ’s Der Klettergarten Bouldering competition (but if you’re not in bouldering shape yet don’t worry, just grab your two strongest friends: the competition is held in teams of three).

Once your forearms are shot, settle down for a slideshow with John “Verm” Sherman, a pioneer of modern bouldering, and then cook and camp amongst new friends at Fromm’s Field.

2. Cycle: Fremont Solstice Parade, June 20, 2015

Body-painted bikers embrace the Fremont Solstice Parade.
Body-painted bikers embrace the Fremont Solstice Parade. Gene Bisbee

Cycling in the Fremont Solstice Parade is not so much about conquering a physical challenge, but it is still for the brave: Tradition has it that many riders participate only wearing body paint. If you’re a never nude, don’t let that keep you from getting in on the fun—you’ll be in among a mix of creative costumes of all sorts. The event is such a Seattle classic that no list of local summer festivals would be complete without it.

3. Paddle: Seafair Stand Up Paddleboard, July 11

If there is one festival that decidedly marks summer in Seattle, it’s the two-month long extravaganza known as Seafair , which includes events like the Torchlight Parade, the Seafair Cup hydroplane races, and even a marathon. But local water lovers won’t want to miss out on is a newer addition: The third-annual Stand Up Paddleboard Urban Surf Competition . The event, which takes place on beloved Greenlake , features races for novices and more practiced paddlers alike.

4. Swim: Emerald City Open Water Swim, August 15

If you would rather get into the water than simply paddle along on top of it, take a dip in Seward Park’s  Andrews Bay in the popular Emerald City Open Water Swim  that has been running for more than 30 years. The event also has different options for different levels of swimmer, featuring both a half-mile and full mile races.

5. Hike: Washington Trails Association Hike-A-Thon, August 2015

A hiker takes in the from from the top of Mount Si, just outside Seattle. 
A hiker takes in the from from the top of Mount Si, just outside Seattle.  brewbooks

August is prime time for hiking in Seattle, and WTA’s Hike-A-Thon is a great way to stay motivated to hit the trails as much as possible while raising money for a good cause. Hikers register to be sponsored by their family and friends via a WTA fundraising page on a per-mile, per-hike, or flat rate basis. Participants then enter their miles throughout the summer as they go. WTA rewards the most steadfast hikers with prizes donated by their sponsors.

6. Drink: Washington Brewers Festival, June 21

Drink a glass (or few) at the Washington Brewers Festival
Drink a glass (or few) at the Washington Brewers Festival Quinn Dombrowski

At the end of a great summer day outside, there is no better to celebrate than by sipping on one of your favorite brews. And what better way to celebrate the Pacific Northwest by making that beer one that was locally crafted? We live in a hotspot of artisan brewers—with so many to choose from, it can be hard to know how to decide which one to bring along on your next adventure. Come to the Washington Brewers Festival  in Redmond, and you’ll figure out your new favorite drink in no time. The event features 400 beers from 105 Washington breweries, so there is sure to be something to suit every beer lover’s palate.

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