Downtown Bellingham is the place to be this winter

When SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention co-founder John Jenkins bought his space on Bay Street, downtown was dead — “pretty much a ghost town,” Jenkins says.

Today? Definitely not. Downtown Bellingham is thriving, full of hip restaurants, quaint shops, delightful entertainment venues and top-quality museums.

The Powerhouse Performance Center is all set up for a mind-blowing show.

Downtown Bellingham is a place for family fun, friendly get-togethers and fabulous nights out. And this holiday season, the excitement gets turned up a notch or two, with a tree lighting ceremony, winter solstice night market and more.

Pretty lights, festive spirit, lots to do — honestly, you don’t need to look further than downtown Bellingham for fun this Christmas season.

When Bellingham was

“I was determined to make the museum a success here in my hometown,” said Jenkins, who grew up in Bellingham, in a recent blog post. “I knew from watching other towns go through this, that what was needed was for the downtown to make the transition from a commercial center to a cultural and residential center.”

Instead of a place simply to visit, Jenkins wanted to make downtown a place to be — to live, to work, to play, to experience.

What Bellingham is

Today, SPARK is at the center of the bustling Bellingham Arts District, and downtown continues to grow and expand, with new restaurants, shops and even parks (consider the fantastic and evolving Waypoint Park, just down the hill from SPARK on the Bellingham waterfront).

Open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, SPARK is a great spot to wrap up a fun day downtown or kick off an enjoyable evening. (And not just because we squeeze in so many extra shows and demonstrations during the holidays!)

The Downtown Tree Lighting Ceremony is a fun family tradition.

This holiday season, stop by on your way to the Tree Lighting Ceremony at Depot Market Square, which is set to take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1. Mayor Kelli Linville will be there, as will Santa Claus himself! Drop by for hot cocoa and cookies, listen to carolers and make an ornament or two.

Or maybe pop in to SPARK after you check out the Tour of Trees at the Leopold just a couple blocks away. That event, which will take place on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, features a stunning array of gorgeous trees, of course, in addition to live music and holiday goodies.

Oh, and don’t forget the 39th Annual Holiday Festival of the Arts, full of beautiful Christmas ornaments, gifts and other arts and crafts. It’s on now through Dec. 24 at a great new location — the Public Market at 1530 Cornwall Ave., just a hop, skip and jump from SPARK.

For more events as they’re scheduled, stay tuned to the Downtown Bellingham Partnership. There’s so much to see and do in the city center during the holiday season. See you downtown!