A quick-glance guide to the best festivals and fun, weekend by weekend, all summer long, all over Western Washington.
Do you live for the weekend? Beyond being a loyal TGIFer, are you a TGIS&S (Thank God It’s Saturday and Sunday) kind of person — lazy as the Fremont Troll?
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(Check Summer Guide’s monthly calendars for details on dates and times.)
May 21-22 weekend
You know all those elderly, burnt-out-hippie rock stars who are the big draw at little casinos? If their essence was boiled down and cast on the wind (OK, it’s a stretch, but stay with us here) it would settle like a fine mist on The Ave in Seattle’s University District and up would pop the University District StreetFair. It’s considered the kickoff of Seattle’s summer festival season, with the street cred to back that up: 42 years as a purveyor of macramé plant hangers, bangly earrings, henna tattoos and painted faces, along with more fire eaters, meat-cleaver jugglers, pan-pipe bands and hula-hooping guitar pickers than you’ll find anywhere this side of Eugene. www.udistrictchamber.org/StreetFair.
And don’t forget: Horned helmets and clog dancing at Viking Fest in Poulsbo; tips for eating a Douglas fir (maybe?) at the Seattle Green Festival; and nautical, San Juan-y fun at Anacortes Waterfront Festival.
May 28-30 (Memorial Day) weekend
It’s Memorial Day weekend, so this must be Northwest Folklife Festival. See the comment above about the U District StreetFair? In this case, it’s the boiled-down essence of every 1960s folk singer (and some are still here) but with huge dashes of spice with performers from cultures far and wide. And — gasp — Folklife turns 40 this year. Donations requested, but it’s still free if that’s what you can afford. www.nwfolklifefestival.org.
And don’t forget: Ski to Sea festival, with a wild race from Mount Baker to Bellingham Bay; Kitsap Harbor Festival, with its raucous seagull-calling contest; and (don’t forget the cocktail sauce) ShrimpFest in Brinnon, on Hood Canal.
June 4-5 weekend
Get jazzed, with performances all around downtown Bellevue — many free — during final days of the Bellevue Jazz Festival, which brings national performers as well as top local players and school jazz bands. www.bellevuejazz.com.
And don’t forget: Classic yachts and family fun at the Edmonds Rotary Waterfront Festival; Pagdiriwang Philippine Festival, with hot lumpia and cool dancers; and an excuse to visit pretty Gig Harbor, the Maritime Gig Festival.
June 11-12 weekend
If finger food and fast boats mean good times to you, Issaquah’s Tastin’ N Racin’ festival is the place this weekend. www.tastinracin.com.
And don’t forget: Festival Sundiata, celebrating African-American culture, at Seattle Center; and the oh-so-high-toned Georgetown Carnival, with power-tool races, circus performers and a trailer-park mall.
June 18-19 weekend
Celebrate the official start of summer (a few days early) and Father’s Day (that Sunday) at Fremont Fair. It kicks off Saturday with the noon Solstice Parade, a free-spirited procession including bouncing bare bodies on bikes. www.fremontfair.org and fremontartscouncil.org/summer-solstice-parade.
And don’t forget: Kent International Festival, celebrating cultural diversity in South King County; Washington Brewers Festival, a popular Father’s Day fixture at Saint Edward State Park; and Puyallup Meeker Days Festival, Pierce County’s largest street fair.
June 25-26 weekend
Plenty to do, whether chowing down at Taste of Tacoma (www.tasteoftacoma.com), looking at your reflection in old Packards at the Greenwood Car Show (www.greenwoodcarshow.com), or lining Fourth Avenue to cheer the rainbow of personalities in the Seattle Pride Parade (www.seattlepride.org/pride-parade).
And don’t forget: Shoreline Arts Festival, accenting the aesthetics of the north end; the hard-charging Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon; and the festival that makes you say “arrggh,” Westport’s Rusty Scupper Pirate Daze.
July 2-4 weekend
Start the holiday weekend with a celebration of Seattle’s nautical heritage at one of the region’s best resources for people who love boats. It’s the Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival at Seattle’s Center for Wooden Boats (www.cwb.org/2011-wooden-boat-festival). Take a free boat ride, watch boatbuilding, sail a model on the new boat pond. On the Fourth, enjoy one of the many fireworks displays detailed in our Summer Guide Independence Day roundup.
And don’t forget: Seattle International Beerfest (need we say more?) at Seattle Center; and the Low Tide Festival, with beach walks by a lighthouse, on Vashon Island.
July 9-10 weekend
Summer gets serious. The Seafair Pirates swashbuckle their way ashore at Alki Beach to kick off Seattle’s season of celebration (www.seafair.com), and the Arlington Fly-In delivers aeronautical adrenaline (www.arlingtonflyin.org).
And don’t forget: Lots more going on, as festivals hit the fan (so to speak): King County Fair, shifting to July this year; Redmond Derby Days, setting bike wheels flying; Kent Cornucopia Days, where the fun overfloweth; Bainbridge In Bloom, Ballard Seafoodfest, Wallingford Seafair Kiddies Parade, Mercer Island Summer Celebration, and Chinatown-International District Dragon Festival.
July 16-17 weekend
Watercraft of questionable seaworthiness race on Green Lake for the Seafair Milk Carton Derby (www.seafair.com), in which some racers can end up swimming. Just be sure you don’t go in the water for at least an hour after visiting the Bite of Seattle, the annual challenge to overeat in small portions, at Seattle Center (www.comcastbiteofseattle.com).
And don’t forget: Lavender festivals in Sequim, Redmond and on San Juan Island; Seattle’s Bon Odori Buddhist festival, and the big drums of Seafair Indian Days Pow Wow.
July 23-24 weekend
Hop up to Snohomish’s Kla Ha Ya Days, for a frog-jumping contest (www.klahayadays.com), or waddle over (after a month of festival food) to Renton River Days, for a rubber ducky derby (rentonwa.gov/li.aspx?ItemID=1138).
And don’t forget: If you have ya-yas, get them out at the Capitol Hill Block Party; if you’ve had too much coffee, work it off in the Seafair Triathlon;, if you love dim sum and dragons, head for the Chinatown Seafair Parade.
July 30-31 weekend
It’s the Eastside’s annual triple-whammy arts-and-crafts fair weekend, with the Bellevue Arts Museum Arts Fair (www.bellevuearts.org) and two more arts festivals around downtown Bellevue. The Seafair Torchlight Parade lights up downtown Seattle on the 30th (www.seafair.com).
And don’t forget: To dodge the cabers at Pacific Northwest Scottish Highland Games, or just find more fair food at Silverdale Whaling Days, Lake Stevens Aqua Fest, Hispanic Seafair Festival or Magnolia SummerFest.
Aug. 6-7 weekend
Cue the roostertails. Feel the thrummmm of the boats’ turbine engines beat against your chest, then the
whoosh of the Blue Angels as the sound catches up with the jets already a half-mile past. It’s the big weekend for the Seafair Hydroplane Races and Air Show, on and over Lake Washington. See www.seafair.com.
And don’t forget: Lake City Pioneer Days (with a tasty salmon bake), and the Anacortes Arts Festival, worth a drive to Fidalgo Island.
Aug. 13-14 weekend
Who’s really seen enough lawnmower races in their life? Not you, we bet. So head for Morton Loggers Jubilee (where lawnmowers race when lumberjacks aren’t sawing; www.loggersjubilee.com). Maybe stop first at the Seattle Tattoo Expo to get “I [Heart] Husqvarna” across your chest. See www.seattletattooexpo.com.
And don’t forget: A Taste of Edmonds (you wouldn’t want to waste away); Festival at Mount Si, Stillaguamish Festival of the River, and Auburn Good Ol’ Days Festival.
Aug. 20-21 weekend
Look, up in the sky! It’s a sandpiper! It’s a Piper Cub! It’s a fighter kite — everybody run! It’s the finale weekend of the Washington State International Kite Festival at Long Beach, if you need to get out of the hot city and cool off at the coast. See www.kitefestival.com.
And don’t forget: Snoqualmie Railroad Days, and the Celebrate Shoreline festival and car show.
Aug. 27-28 weekend
A horse is a horse, of course, of course. But it’s always interesting to see well-groomed farm animals if you’ve been too long in the city. Evergreen State Fair is here to tell you that summer’s winding down and it’s time to think about harvest season, Wilbur. See www.evergreenfair.org.
And don’t forget: Finland Summer Festival, with a wife-carrying contest (!) on Crown Hill, and Makah Days, spotlighting the ancient culture of the ocean people at Neah Bay.
Sept. 3-5 (Labor Day) weekend
Like bookends to your summer, Bumbershoot faces off with Folklife as Seattle’s biggest, most diverse arts festival. A lot of the names are bigger, but so is the admission price. A good party for summer’s end: www.bumbershoot.org.
And don’t forget: Kick up your heels while the bucking broncos do the same, at Ellensburg Rodeo. Or worship the wild and wonderful at Bremerton Blackberry Festival.
Sept. 10-11 weekend
Large and ungainly vegetables, endearingly odd things that people collect, small children riding sheep, lineups for scones with jam — sound like a menu for one of the most popular and enduring entertainment attractions in the state of Washington? Yep, if it’s the Puyallup Fair. Catch the opening weekend of its 17-day run. See www.thefair.com.
And don’t forget: Three events with a poetic sense of the Northwest, Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival and Edmonds’ Puget Sound Bird Fest.
Sept. 17-18 weekend
It’s the last weekend of summer, and the days will be cooler and shorter for the Fishermen’s Fall Festival. Keep up your strength with souvlaki and baklava at Saint Demetrios Greek Festival. See www.seattlegreekfestival.com.
And don’t forget: Seattle Center’s Fiestas Patrias, celebrating freedom in Latin America, and Celebrate Des Moines, with the grand opening of its renovated beach park.
Brian J. Cantwell: 206-748-5724 or email@example.com