Spokane is a vibrant, fun, beautiful city to visit any time of the year. Something is always going on! Below is a list, by no means complete, of some of the most popular annual events that draw people from all over the region.
Spokane International Film Festival, February 1–10
This is a golden opportunity to see some of the previous year’s best films from all over the world on the big screen. Some of them may not ever be available on DVD in the United States. Festival passes are available. Individual tickets go on sale online January 12 and range from $5.00–$10.00. Films will be shown downtown in the Magic Lantern Theatre and the Bing Crosby Theater. Click here for a list of this year’s selected films.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade, March 16
Spokane celebrates all things Irish as well as a sense of community with a festive parade through downtown Spokane. Marching bands, creative floats, school groups from around the region, and dancing are some of the sights to be had. Come early to stake out a good place to watch! Click here for the parade route.
Lilac Bloomsday Run, May 5
The first Sunday of every May, runners, walkers, and people using wheelchairs trek 12 km (7.46 miles) in and around downtown Spokane, WA in one of the nation’s largest annual foot races. Elite runners competing for the championships come from all over the world, but many more people are there for the fun of it. Flamboyant costumes, creative team themes, and great on-course entertainment are guaranteed to help distract you from the physical exertion. You can register online anytime through April 21 for $17 plus $1.69 online processing fee. Beginning March 1, mail-in forms will be available at various locations around town (must be postmarked by April 16).
Spokane Lilac Festival, May 18
Spokane is known for its gorgeous, though short-lived, lilacs that bloom in the spring. Each year, at around the time the lilacs are blooming, the community celebrates with a big torchlight parade, a car show, and several other events featuring the Lilac Royalty (princesses and a queen). The main events are on Saturday, May 18. The Cruzin’ the Falls Classic Car Show runs 10 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. downtown on Spokane Falls Boulevard, and the 75th Spokane Lilac Festival Diamond Anniversary Armed Forces Torchlight Parade starts at 7:45, also downtown. Click here for a full list of Lilac Festival events.
IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene, June 23
Coeur d’Alene’s IRONMAN triathlon course is one of the most scenic in the nation. Competitors swim two loops (2.4 miles total) in beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene, cycle two loops (112 miles total) through rural, scenic North Idaho, and run two loops (26.2 miles total) parallel to the lake. Spectators cheer on the athletes during the running course. There will be 50 qualifying Age Group slots to the IRONMAN World Championship on offer at the 2013 IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene. About 2,800 people participate.
This very popular event is already sold out for general entries, but there are still Ironman Foundation entry fee spots available ($1,250, half of which goes to the Ironman Foundation). Come and support a competing athlete you know or just watch this incredible feat of endurance!
Hoopfest, June 29–30
This is the largest 3-on-3 street basketball tournament in the world, with over 7,000 teams and almost 28,000 players in 2012. People of all abilities can put together a team and register, but the youngest players must be entering the third grade in fall of 2013. From the 3BA Elite Division to occasional players, there is a bracket for everyone, and prizes are awarded to the winners in each bracket. Registration opens March 15. If you want to be actively involved without playing, volunteer! Hoopfest is made possible by 3,000 people who volunteer their time.
Independence Day Festival, July 4
Music and other live entertainment, food, vendors, community booths, and fireworks at dusk at Riverfront Park.
The Spokane Dirty Dash, July 13
At the Riverside State Park Equestrian Area on July 13, you can stomp in puddles all you want, whether you are 8 or 80, and no one will care that you are ruining your shoes and splattering everyone around you. In fact, it’s actually the point of the event to get just as filthy as you possibly can while negotiating a slippery, 3.5 mile obstacle course of walls, mud hills, pipes, giant slip ‘n slides, and more features. There is even a “Beer Chug Obstacle” (root beer also available) where you will chug a beer before attempting the challenge (for beer, you must present your ID and get a wrist band before the race starts). There is also a shorter Piglet Plunge for ages 2–12 (must be accompanied by a parent, $20 to register), a 1-mile course with kid-friendly obstacles and features like the “Hog Wash” and the “Pig Sty.”
Register as a team or an individual. Costumes, bad mustaches, and outrageous hair are highly encouraged, and you might just win prizes for them, along with other creative categories. Cost is $35.00 through January 31, then it goes up gradually until July 10, when it is $55.00.
Pig Out in the Park, Labor Day Weekend
Don’t miss one of the best free music festivals in the Northwest, held in Riverfront Park. This huge, six-day celebration begins on the Wednesday before Labor Day. Three stages plus roving entertainment provide something for everyone. Of course, there are also about 54 food booths offering up all kinds of cuisine, from foot-long hot dogs to samosas. Local and regional bands as well as national headliners play.
Spokane County Interstate Fair, September 6–15
It’s all here—farm animals, amusement rides, rodeo, live music, art, crafts, giant produce, wickedly good junk food, trinkets, antique machinery, and much more. The fair ushers in the fall; it’s the last big summer weather event. Watch the website for details of the 2013 fair as they become available!
Spokane Oktoberfest, September
The exact dates have not been announced yet, but in the second half of September, the 4th annual Spokane Oktoberfest will be held in Riverfront Park. This 21-and-older event features a large variety of Washington state beers for tasting. Live music, German concession food, and an Oktoberfest costume contest are all part of the fun.
Green Bluff Growers Festivals, May through December
Green Bluff, home to a few dozen farms, is located about 15 miles north of Spokane in the scenic foothills of Mt. Spokane. During the summer and fall, you can visit growers and buy food directly where it is grown. You can even pick your own berries, tree fruits, pumpkins, and more. On festival weekends, farmers and shops offer live music, farm-fresh cuisine, tours, and more. Some farms have play areas for kids, petting zoos, wagon rides, and corn mazes. There are even wineries and candy makers to visit.
Green Bluff farms open up to the public beginning with the Blooms on the Bluff (flowers, plants, crafts) on Mother’s Day Weekend. At the end of June and beginning of July, you can enjoy some super fresh, sweet, local strawberries during the Strawberry Festival. Next is the Cherry Festival, two weekends in July, including the Cherry Picker’s Trot annual fun run. The Peach Festival runs late August through Labor Day, and the Apple Festival is late September to the end of October. You can even come back for holiday shopping during Holiday Memories November 23 through December 24 and cut your own Christmas tree or pick up unique, local food gifts. Each farm has its own hours and events. Click here for the growers’ map, from which you can access information pages for each farm