Elizabeth Park Summer Concerts

A tried-and-true tradition

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

It’s been more than a decade since I lived in a bright purple house on Utter Street in the Columbia neighborhood, but my affection for that part of town remains strong. So much so that my frequent meanderings hither and yon often take back to that neighborhood, where I can identify my favorite stately mansions and cozy bungalows alike on a block-by-block basis.

My strolls through the Columbia always take me around—and sometimes through—Elizabeth Park, where the bustle of tennis players, pickup basketball games, picnics, birthday parties and folks in various states of activity and relaxation makes for excellent people-watching. One of the things I appreciate about this city’s citizenry is that you do not merely profess to love Bellingham’s parks system, but you also use it with great frequency and enthusiasm.

Which is why you’ll find people in Elizabeth Park during daylight hours 365 days a year. But never more so than during the 10 weeks that comprise the Elizabeth Park Summer Concert Series, one of Bellingham’s most beloved seasonal traditions. As everyone by now knows, one of the best parts of my Columbia neighborhood summers was my Thursday-evening walk home from work, which would always put me at the park’s perimeter right as that week’s band was hitting the second or third song of their set. I’d stay and listen awhile, chat with folks I knew from the neighborhood and the other walks of my Bellingham life, watch kids dance like clumsy, exuberant dervishes and finish my journey home. Sometimes, I’d bring a book and a refreshing libation to my front porch, where I could hear the muted strains of the music and the cheering of the audience.

It was an exceedingly lovely way to pass a Thursday night—and it still is.

The Elizabeth Park Summer Concert Series is still going strong—stronger than ever, thanks to the partnership between the Eldridge Society—under the stewardship of its longtime president Peter Roberts—and Bellingham Parks & Recreation that makes the music series possible, and Marla Bronstein, who took on the job of booking the bands several years ago, and brought to the task her customary energy along with a knack for knowing what people will like. It helps that Bronstein is not only a huge music fan, but also has a long history of work in the arts community and so can capably navigate the deep well of talent that is Bellingham’s music scene.

Even though she knows there’s no pleasing everyone, Bronstein tries to provide as wide a variety of music as she can, while keeping things family-friendly and choosing bands that are a good fit for the park itself. She spends months snapping together the moving parts of this complex puzzle, and the result is some of the best free summer entertainment your money can’t buy.

The 2018 Elizabeth Park series begins Thurs., June 21 with Heroes, a band of local kids that totally rules and not just because they recently played Sehome High School’s prom. From there, it’s a parade of familiar faces and beloved bands such as the jazz of Stirred Not Shaken (June 28), high-energy covers by Out of the Ashes (July 5), bluegrass from Broken Bow String Band (July 12), lively Celtic songs courtesy of Flattery (July 19), a very special evening with the Walrus (July 26) to benefit DVSAS, the straight outta east county rock of BandZandt (Aug. 2), the politically minded folk of Dana Lyons (Aug. 9), progressive bluegrass from High Mountain String Band (Aug. 16), with the Replayzmentz (Aug. 23) closing things out for this year’s series right around the time summer starts to remind us it won’t be here forever.

Along with the rotating roster of musical offerings and the scenic locale, food trucks will be on hand to satiate the appetites of hungry revelers, and attendees are encouraged to bring chairs, picnic supplies and whatever else will make your concert-going experience complete. One thing you might not want to bring, however, is your car. Sure, it’s eco-friendly and environmentally responsible to bus, bike or walk to Elizabeth Park—and its geographically desirable location makes those options feasible for just about anyone—but my advice is in service to more than just the preservation of the planet. Parking can be scarce on the narrow streets of the Columbia neighborhood under the best of circumstances, but it becomes far trickier during the concerts. The madness is such that strangers used to park in my carport—which was located four blocks away from the park, down an alley and could not possibly have appeared to be a legitimately available parking spot to anyone.

But the best reason to take a more deliberately paced approach to Elizabeth Park on Thursday nights between 6pm and 8pm is because part of the magic of the concert series is hearing the music and the crowd in the distance and then having the park reveal itself as you come down the street or around a corner, as it did to me those years ago on my walks home from work. As quintessential summer traditions go, it’s definitely one of Bellingham’s best.

More Music...
Live At The Lincoln
Rebels with a cause

During the course of the coming days, the Lincoln Theatre will host three big-name acts—Bebel Gilberto (July 21), Leo Kottke (July 25), and Robert Cray (July 31)—and at first glance, it would seem the only thing they have in common is the historic venue at which they’ll perform.

But dig…

more »
Vancouver Folk Music Festival
Run for the border

I am in the habit of reading the news every day, usually within minutes of waking up. I have done so for a good portion of my life, and it used to make me feel informed and more prepared to take on the day.

These days, not so much.

Now when I launch my New York Times app, I do it…

more »
Downtown Sounds
You are my sunshine

As our much-anticipated and much-needed sun dissolved into gray skies and showers last weekend, I had a conversation with someone who insisted that June 21 marks the first day of summer. Given that this person has lived in Western Washington for most of his life, I was surprised to hear…

more »
Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Northwest Raspberry Festival


Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Summer of Blood

7:00pm|Rexville Grange Amphitheater


9:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Raspberry Pancake Breakfast

7:00am|Lynden Community Center

Tour de Whatcom

7:30am|Boundary Bay Brewery

Ferndale Breakfast

8:00am|Ferndale Senior Center

Anacortes Farmers Market

9:00am|Depot Arts Center

Mount Vernon Farmers Market

9:00am|Riverwalk Park

Christmas in July Bazaar

9:00am|Bellingham Masonic Center

Twin Sisters Market

9:00am|Nugent's Corner, North Fork Library

Four Democrats seek election in the Skagit


Primary Election Forum

9:30am|Bellingham High School

NW Art Beat Studio Tour

10:00am|Skagit County

Blaine Gardeners Market

10:00am|H Street Plaza

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Summer Seersucker Bicycle Ride

10:00am|Gilkey Square

Lynden Farmers Market

10:00am|Centennial Park

Lummi Island Saturday Market

10:00am|Islander Grocery Store

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am| Depot Market Square

Correspondence Club

10:30am|Mindport Exhibits

Downtown Market Walk

11:00am|Downtown Bellingham

Street Food Saturdays

11:00am|Zuanich Point Park

Show & Shine

11:00am|BelleWood Acres

Hot Ticket

11:00am|North Fork Library

Public Sail

12:00pm|Cap Sante Marina

The Nandia Trilogy

1:00pm|Barnes & Noble


1:00pm|Point Roberts Library

Concrete Saturday Market

1:00pm|Concrete Community Center

Field Games

1:00pm|VanderYacht Park

Wren and Della

1:00pm|Blaine Library

Lynden Cemetery Tour

1:00pm|Lynden Cemetery

State Street History Tour

1:30pm|Depot Market Square

The Secret Garden

3:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Ferndale Uncorked and Uncapped

3:00pm|Centennial Riverwalk Park

Nooksack River Walk

3:00pm|Horseshoe Bend Trailhead

Whatcom Democrats Country Picnic

4:00pm|Hovander Homestead Park

Seafood Boil

5:30pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Seafood Boil

5:30pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Feast and Frolic

5:30pm|Viva Farms

Saturday Seafood Boil

5:30pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Music at Maritime

6:00pm|Maritime Heritage Park

Austin Jenckes

7:00pm|Eagle Haven Winery

Bellingham Youth Jazz Band

7:00pm|Bellingham Senior Activity Center

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Nelson Mandela Tribute Concert

7:30pm|Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship

Bebel Gilberto

7:30pm| Lincoln Theatre

Gerrymandering Update

7:30pm|Island Library

Trove Web
Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Summer of Blood

7:00pm|Rexville Grange Amphitheater

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

NW Art Beat Studio Tour

10:00am|Skagit County

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Vietnam Veterans Car Show

10:00am|Barkley Village

Edison Farmers Market

10:00am|Edison Granary

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Langar in Lynden

11:00am|Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

La Conner Live!

1:00pm|Gilkey Square

Skulls and Skins

1:00pm|Tennant Lake

Mosaic Stepping Stone Workshop

1:00pm|Chuckanut Center

Audubon at the Museum

1:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Fiddlin' Fox Summer Concerts

2:00pm|Fairhaven Village Green

Trivia Time

3:30pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Trivia Time

3:30pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Trove Web 2018 Cascadia Kids
Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Rainbow Reads

12:00pm|Ferndale Library

Plant Diagnostic Clinics

5:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Paddling Whatcom County


Cuban Salsa

6:00pm|Bell Tower Studios

Books on Tap Two

6:30pm|Tino's Pizza & Pasta Co.


9:00pm|Firefly Lounge

see our complete calendar »

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 2018 Cascadia Kids Trove Web Village Books