Celebrate music and dance from around the world Friday through Monday.
Northwest Folklife Festival, a favorite Memorial Day weekend tradition at Seattle Center since 1972, celebrates music and dance from around the world with performances at 24 indoor and outdoor venues Friday through Monday, May 27-30.
Folklife, which defines itself as “what folks do at home to entertain themselves and pass on their traditions,” invites everyone to join in participatory dancing and, especially with this year’s theme “The Power of the Human Voice through Song,” singalongs, from sea shanties to lullabies to protest songs. The festival theme’s marquee concert features Canadian gospel group The Sojourners, Bulgarian Voices of Seattle Women’s Choir, doo-wop quartet The Main Attraction, The Sacred Cow Harmogenizers shape-note singers and the Native American drum ensemble Southern Express (7 p.m. Saturday, May 28, Bagley Wright Theatre).
With continuous performances at many venues, there’s everything from bluegrass, Cajun, country, yodeling and jug bands to hip-hop, funk, jazz, swing and gospel music; Irish, Baltic, contra, waltz and square dancing; and much more. Dance and music workshops in the Armory include Scottish Country dancing, singing games for all ages, introduction to belly dance and Argentine tango among an array of events all weekend.
Northwest Folklife Festival
Time: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, May 27-30
Cost: free; donations requested, suggested $10/person or $20/family or group
Location: Seattle Center, Seattle
New festival features this year include the Open-Air Dance Stage with costumed dance groups from cultures around the world, singalongs in the Fisher Green Beer Garden and visual arts displays around the Center grounds. Also new this year, Treefort Music Fest of Boise, Idaho, hosts the Indie Roots Showcase combining traditional music with today’s popular sounds at various times and venues through the weekend.
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Activities for kids and families at the Discovery Zone include daily music, storytelling and arts activities, and the popular annual Kindiependent indie-rock-band concert for kids and parents, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday on the Fountain Lawn.
A variety of food vendors around the grounds offer cuisines from around the world, along with elephant ears, funnel cakes and other classic fair food. Several beer and cider gardens have or overlook entertainment stages.
Northwest Folklife Festival admission is free, though donations are encouraged and collected by volunteers at Seattle Center entrances. Folklife requests visitors leave their pets at home.
Seattle Center’s website has information on transportation options, including parking, bike-lane information and public transportation links. The recently opened Capitol Hill and UW light-rail stations add new options for taking Link Light Rail to Westlake Center to catch the Seattle Center Monorail and avoid traffic and parking hassles.