What to Do in Washington State in May

Spring festivals head outside for bird-watching, maypole dancing, and a donut eating contest. Plus, Vanilla Ice.

By Allison Williams

It's Maifest in Leavenworth, which means it's time to dance.

With spring well underway and summer just tantalizingly ahead, most of the month's events take place outside. 'Tis the season for eating fair food and dancing in the street, though nature still keeps things unpredictable.

Cascadia International Women's Film Festival

Bellingham | May 4–7

This long weekend of films and discussions celebrating women-led cinema in Bellingham is a necessity when only 18 percent of the top 250 films of 2022 were directed by women. This seventh iteration of the event features 35 films, made by filmmakers from as far as Kyrgyzstan.

Grays Harbor Shorebird and Nature Festival

Hoquiam | May 5–7

The excellent bird-watching on the mudflats of Grays Harbor Natural Wildlife Refuge takes center stage with a weekend of guided and family activities for anyone who doesn't know a dowitcher from a marbled godwit. Many of the short talks are free.

Marbled godwits take flight in Grays Harbor.


Leavenworth | May 13–14

Like Oktoberfest, but springier. Leavenworth celebrates the season Bavarian-style with traditional dance and music, including a maypole and yodeling. But every weekend of the month has some form of festivities, like a chainsaw carving contest May 20–21 and alpenhorn music at the end of the month.

Spokane Lilac Festival 

Spokane | May 15–20

The world goes purple for Spokane's big spring event, which includes a Saturday night parade through downtown. Other happenings range from the classy (the royal tea party at the Historic Davenport Hotel, an art show) to the informal (a brewfest). The Cruzin' the Falls car show takes place on Spokane Falls Boulevard. 

Viking Fest

Poulsbo | May 19–21

Break out the horn helmets for this salute to Scandinavia. A parade through the middle of town and running races keep things busy, and a carnival and street fair include rides for kids. The Viking Tour pairs bike racing with a brew fest.

Moses Lake Spring Festival

Moses Lake | May 25–28

There are all kinds of throwbacks at the classic fair held in central Washington—not just a kiddie parade and carnival, but also tunes from Montell Jordan, Tone Loc, and Vanilla Ice; no word on whether the entertainers will take part in the Back to the '90s lip sync contest as well. All kinds of skills are rewarded here, including appetite at the donut eating contest.

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