Seattle is a multi-faceted city. In such a melting pot, so many eclectic, urban, outdoor, artistic, rugged, down-to-earth, affluent…. Seattle is a city of many facets. In such a melting pot, it’s no surprise that so many different festivals and fairs pop up, most of which take place during the city’s summer months. We’ve narrowed down 12 of the best festivals and fairs.
Seattle Art Fair
CENTURYLINK FIELD EVENT CENTER, Aug. 4-7.
The inaugural Seattle Art Fair, founded by American entrepreneur Paul Allen, arrived with a bang last year, and the latest edition is expected to have an even greater impact, with more than 80 galleries from around the world selected to showcase their work. Taking place at the city’s CenturyLink Field Event Center and surrounding neighborhoods, this year’s event will have a special focus on the Pacific Rim, with artwork exploring the unique cultural, social and geographic characteristics of this vast region that spans the entire edge of the Pacific Ocean. Participating artists hail from Seattle, the broader Northwest, and further afield, and include both established and emerging artists. The art will be presented in a variety of exhibition formats, including sculpture, performance and installation. Throughout the fair, artists and leaders in the creative fields of film and music will be engaged in conversation and dialogue every day.
ANACORTES Art Festival.
ANACORTES Downtown, Aug. 5-7.
Held in the sleepy port town of Anacortes, north of Seattle, the ANACORTES Arts Festival is as laid-back as you’d expect it to be. It consists of 10 neighborhood artisans from around the country, three lively and diverse music stages, and a water art show. The three-day festival also includes a working studio area with steam roller block printing, while food trucks serve regional cuisine – including fresh seafood picked hours earlier from the Pacific Ocean. There’s also a beer garden serving microbrews, Northwest wines and cocktails. There’s also an active kids’ area and an Art Dash to round out the activities.
July 15-17, Seattle Center.
The Groupon Bite of Seattle is the Northwest’s premier food and beverage showcase and one of the largest summer festivals in the country The Bite celebrates its 35th anniversary this year with more than 60 restaurants and vendors, local craft beer and cider tastings, the new The Wine Bar and Craft Courtyard, 5 music and entertainment stages, a free movie night, a beer garden featuring local craft beer and local specialty cocktails and spirits, live cooking demonstrations by local chefs on stage and mystery ingredient cooking contests, a family entertainment stage, sponsor tours and samples, and more.
REDMOND ARTS FESTIVAL
July 8-10, Redmond Town Center.
Held at the Redmond Town Center in the Seattle suburb of Redmond, the Redmond Arts Festival encapsulates the Northwest’s long history of producing world-class art of all types. Organized by VALA East in partnership with the Redmond Town Center, the main focus of the three-day juried festival is bound to be the impressive array of artwork on display, including fine art, sculpture, pottery, handcrafted objects and jewelry from more than 60 artists. But that’s only half of the story, as there’s also live music, food trucks and other activities on the main stage. It’s no wonder some 10,000 visitors come through the doors each year.
Magnolia, 5-7 August
Magnolia Summerfest is the ultimate community-led event in one of Seattle’s largest neighborhoods, on a hilly peninsula northwest of downtown. In fact, it relies on the help of citizens and volunteers, so much so that this year’s fundraising almost missed its goal. Fortunately, the locals did a great job, so we can all look forward to the 2016 edition, which again promises plenty of fun activities for adults and children alike. Not-to-be-missed events include the annual art show, vendor sidewalk sales, children’s parade and sea fairground parade, arts and crafts booths, pony rides, clowns and magicians, food booths and a beer garden.
STILLAGUAMISH FESTIVAL OF THE RIVER & POW WOW
RIVER MEADOWS COUNTY PARK, 13 – 14 AUGUST
There are no shortage of depictions of Native Americans in popular culture, but it is also important to give those with an indigenous heritage the opportunity to celebrate their own culture on their own terms. Thankfully, there’s an annual festival that takes place an hour north of Seattle each year that performs just that role. Held at the River Meadows County Park, the Stillaguamish Festival of the River & Pow Wow is sponsored by the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians of Washington, who received federal recognition in 1974, and honours traditional dance and cultural pursuits, as well as promoting environmental awareness. Some of the stand-out festival activities include a live circus troupe, a 5k fun run, children’s storytelling, environmental and wellness exhibits, fun zone rides, a logging show and an obstacle course.
BELLEVUE SQUARE & BELLEVUE ARTS MUSEUM, 29 – 31 JULY
Celebrating its 70th anniversary this July, the Bellevue Arts Museum ARTSfair is a prominent fixture on Seattle’s cultural calendar, featuring over 300 inspiring artists showcasing unique, handmade arts and crafts, all selected with the help of a jury from a pool of about 900 applications. Organised by the Bellevue Arts Museum, the fair’s longevity is testament to its success, with visitors coming from far and wide to enjoy one of the area’s most popular art events. It is held across two venues – at Bellevue Square and at the museum itself, and the event programme also includes BAM Exhibitions, KIDSfair, a Sound & Movement Stage, food trucks, site specific artwork and much more.
SUSTAINABLE BALLARD FESTIVAL
BALLARD COMMONS PARK, AUGUST 27
Many festivals start and end with frivolous fun, but the Sustainable Ballard Festival succeeds in creating an energetic, up-beat atmosphere while also being underpinned by a serious commitment that we can all get behind. Now in its 13th year, the event in Seattle’s northwest neighbourhood of Ballard is designed to promote and encourage our progress towards a sustainable future by advocating environmental and social awareness, as well as stronger community integration, all presented in a positive, accessible way. The action-packed programme includes hands-on activities, and workshops, live music and a Tea Garden, all contributing to a happy, vibrant ambience – and plenty of hope for the future.
MARITIME GIG FESTIVAL
GIG HARBOR, JUNE 4 – 5
What draws thousands of people to the area’s largest annual summer festival and is named after a small boat that holds only a handful of rowers? The upcoming Maritime Gig Festival, of course, soon to tie up again in Gig Harbor this June. Combining popular family traditions—including an authentic small town parade – with an array of fun activities and new business opportunities, the festival is one of the stand-out events on the city’s calendar. New for this year will be a Maritime Gig Kids performance area, where a variety of children’s groups from all over Gig Harbor will showcase their talents, while the festival will also see the return of its well-attended car show featuring both modern and classic automobiles.
ODDMALL: EMPORIUM OF THE WEIRD
HOLIDAY INN DOWNTOWN-EVERETT, 4 – 5 JUNE
Oddmall is more than just an ordinary craft show. It’s a celebration of uniqueness, creativity, imagination, and wonder, where artists, crafters, and like-minded sorts gather to offer their unusual creations for public consumption. It’s a forum for creative expression, a classroom for esoteric wisdom, a soapbox for wild ideas, a miraculous marketplace of the unconventional, or, as one organiser told me, “a metaphorical Serengetian watering hole where the zebras and wildebeests of inspiration and artistry congregate amid the snapping crocodiles and scorching sunbeams of originality and ingenuity.” And if that doesn’t pique your interest, nothing will.
CENTENNIAL PARK, MYRTLE EDWARDS PARK & OLYMPIC SCULPTURE PARK, 19 – 21 AUGUST
Whatever your opinions on drugs policy, it’s hard not to appreciate the strong sense of community values that are woven into the fabric of this popular annual event. Taking place each year in Centennial Park – and set to celebrate its 25th anniversary – HEMPFEST is widely recognised as the world’s largest annual cannabis policy reform event in the world, but as visitors will attest, it’s also a serious party, with live music, arts and crafts stalls, and food and drink in ample supply. With Washington State the first in America to legalise cannabis in 2012, it goes without saying that there’s plenty of opportunities to indulge on that front as well. For those who like to mix politics with pleasure, the event also boasts an impressive alumni of guest speakers including US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper and actor Woody Harrelson.
SEATTLE CENTER, 9 JULY
With more than 15,000 Polish Americans living in the Seattle area, there is good reason for the city to spend one day a year celebrating Polish culture and traditions. That day takes place at the Seattle Center every July and sees an action-packed programme of live music, dance performances, workshops, exhibits and children’s activities. Organised by the Seattle Polish Foundation in partnership with the Seattle Center and Polish Home Association, this year’s festival will draw its focus on the fascinating Polish capital of Warsaw and the historic region of Mazovia. There’ll also be authentic Polish food and a beer garden to keep visitors well-nourished and satiated.