Arts, science and water fun – Tacoma Ocean Fest goes online!

The free festival goes all-online 10am-5pm Sept. 13 with brand-new art, music and dance videos, Zooms, eco-booths and a virtual Ocean Action game, plus shoreline clean-up Sept. 12

The coronavirus pandemic has stopped many things, but it can’t stop Tacoma Ocean Fest!

After a huge success in 2019, the free ocean festival of arts, sciences and water fun returns for the third year in online format Sept. 13. Art installed at the Foss Waterway Seaport, music and dance video premieres, underwater film, the Youth Story Contest, OceanX Speaker Zooms, artist livestreams, virtual Eco-Booths and a brand-new Ocean Action game bring the community together to celebrate the ocean, learn about its threats and protect it.

Tacoma Ocean Fest Online runs 10am-5pm on Sept. 13. All content will be available at Final schedule coming soon.

With returning favorites and brand-new experiences for all ages, the festival highlights the beauty and fragility of the ocean and focusing on three main pillars to protect it: Stopping pollution, slowing climate change and saving species.

“This is a really difficult time for our world,” said founding director Rosemary Ponnekanti. “We have big challenges in health, economy, social justice and equity. But these also tie in to the health of our planet. We are all connected. And right now, people also need joy in their lives. That’s what Ocean Fest is about – inspiring our imagination and empathy through the arts, informing us through science, and showing us how to take action. And having fun, even though we can’t gather together.”

On Sept. 12, the festival kicks off in real life by partnering with the Tacoma Shoreline Survey, a city-wide individual beach cleanup with optional #TacomaSplash challenge.

On Sept. 13, the website will unveil a real-time schedule of digital experiences. They include: Lourdes Jackson (@lourdesenfleur), Dean Burke (@tacomaandthesea), and Fergus Hyke (@fergushyke).

Plus, an incredibly diverse line-up of artists with work that speaks on the ocean from a multiplicity of cultural experiences. Includes: dancer Dakota Camacho (Matao/Chamorru), flutist Paul Chiyotken Wagner (Saanich), electric cellist Gretchen Yanover, the Steel Pan Ensemble from Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Company, Tacoma City Ballet, clarinetist Cindy Renander, Brass Band Northwest, filmmaker Annie Crawley, Ceatl Tonalli Aztec dance troupe and more.

All videos will premiere Sept. 13 on the Tacoma Ocean Fest YouTube and website.

New video of aerialist Deanna Riley available on demand.

Ocean X Speaker Zooms:

Three local ocean storyteller activists, in a 20-minute interactive Zoom presentation plus Q&A.

  • Sally Brownfield, Squaxin elder and Salish Sea protector
  • Emily Pinckney, marine biologist, environmental justice activist
  • Judy Twedt, climate scientist-composer

Youth Story Finalists:

Young poets and filmmaker finalists from the 2020 Tacoma Ocean Fest Youth Story Contest (sponsored by Tacoma Sunrise Rotary) read or screen their work (videos available on demand). Awards presented in a private Zoom later in the day.

Virtual Eco-Booths:

What are Eco-Booths? Over 20 local and regional non-profits, agencies, science departments and individuals who protect our waters! All will offer a short, fun video about what they do and how we can help, plus a DIY home activity.

Ocean Action Game:

Each Eco-Booth will tie into one of the nine Ocean Actions that anyone can do in daily life to protect the ocean, from avoiding single-use plastic to protecting salmon habitat or riding a bike. NEW THIS YEAR:  Watch any Eco-Booth video, answer a fun-fact question and collect an Ocean Action sticker! Collect all nine for a “virtual passport” and giveaways.

Tacoma Shoreline Survey cleanup: The Ocean Fest weekend will begin with a beach cleanup. All day Saturday Sept. 12, Tacoma Ocean Fest partners with the Tacoma Shoreline Survey, a city-wide beach cleanup where individuals or households can clean up a section of shoreline and document the trash for science via a phone app. Masks and social distancing are required, as well as pre-registration at XXX

#TacomaSplash:To add some water fun, Tacoma Ocean Fest is holding the #TacomaSplash challenge – wade, jump or dip your toes in the water sometime this weekend, snap a selfie and upload to social media with hashtag #TacomaSplash to be included on festival web channels and prize draw!

Tacoma Ocean Fest is supported by a City of Tacoma Arts Projects grant and Sustainability Small Grant, by the Bamford Foundation and Tacoma Public Utilities. The Foss Waterway Seaport is the venue sponsor. Tacoma Sunrise Rotary is the lead sponsor of the Youth Ocean Story Contest, with prizes also donated by Round Table Pizza.


Tacoma Shoreline Survey & #TacomaSplash: All day Sept. 12 at venues around Tacoma.

Tacoma Ocean Fest: 10am-5pm Sept. 13 at

Cost: Free

Media contact: Rosemary Ponnekanti, director.