If you’re a busy, modern, traffic-challenged Puget Sounder looking for the best bets for a particular summer weekend in 2016 — any weekend — we’ve got a hand-curated list just for you.
Webster defines it this way:
Summer ‘sum-ur n 1: the season between spring and autumn comprising in the northern hemisphere usu. the months of June, July and August or as reckoned astronomically extending from the June solstice to the September equinox.
But here’s a definition that better suits Seattle:
Summer ‘sum-ur n 1: the short season starting with the U District Streetfair when locals wear cargo shorts and flip-flops (var.: sandals with white socks) even if the temperature doesn’t get out of the 50s; warmer and drier for a few weeks starting July 5, when denizens indulge in what’s known provincially as “swimming”; 2: when The Mountain is out; 3: the season we live for.
Most Read Life Stories
- Giving up alcohol made our lives better — and turned us into terrible guests
- 13 latest Seattle restaurant closures — with eviction notices, sudden shutdowns and more
- Ever wander by these little cottages in the heart of Belltown? Stop in for an art class sometime soon | Seattle Sketcher
- In honor of the Oscars, we asked Seattle chefs to name their picks for all-time Best Food Film VIEW
- Anorexia knows no body type — and thinking otherwise can be a barrier to treatment
So, as you might surmise, summer weekends here count.
You’ll find monthly calendars of festivals and events throughout the season. Use them for long-range, big-picture planning. But if you’re a busy, modern, traffic-challenged Puget Sounder looking for the best bets for a particular summer weekend — any weekend — here’s where we pander to you:
May 13-15 weekend
Show how serious you are about pushing the envelope. Take a pre-summer swim at Pop Mounger Pool in Magnolia, the first Seattle Parks and Recreation outdoor swimming complex to open for the season. There are two pools, one with a 50-foot corkscrew slide (be sure your suit is tied on well; some of us have had problems) and a smaller pool for kids. Even when the outside air is 55, the big pool is heated to a comfy 85.
And don’t forget: Whether you’re Spandexed on a racing cycle with tires like spaghettini or wearing the aforesaid cargo shorts and piloting a whitewall-tired cruiser bike, Bicycle Sundays are a wonderful Seattle thing. Lake Washington Boulevard closes to cars along one of the city’s most scenic stretches of lakefront. Look for eagles in Seward Park.
May 20-22 weekend
If a street fair can have street cred, here you go. The University District Streetfair claims to be the longest-running street fair in America, growing out of a 1970 festival that sought to heal rifts caused by the Vietnam War. Here’s where to get your henna tattoo, hear the Northwest’s best buskers or buy jewelry made of organic camomile fiber and sustainably harvested beach glass.
And don’t forget: Bring your labradoodle, chiweenie or Heinz 57 to Petapalooza at Auburn’s Game Farm Park on May 21.
May 27-30, Memorial Day weekend
You’ll know for sure that summer is on its way when you make your pilgrimage (Pilgrim hat optional) to Northwest Folklife Festival at Seattle Center (Friday through Monday). New to town? Here’s the best place to tune into Seattle’s organo-hip cultural chakra. This year’s theme is the power of the human voice through song. Expect everything from sea chanties to lullabies to beatboxing.
Summer Guide 2016
- 5 extra-fun food field trips
- 5 favorite open-air bars
- 5 top spots for boating
- 5 hot concerts around Seattle
- 5 great picnic spots around Seattle
- Find summer-fresh food at farmers markets around Seattle and beyond
- Get out in the sun and swim
- Your weekend-by-weekend guide to summer fun
And don’t forget: Feed your other chakra at TankFest Northwest, May 30 in Everett, showcasing military vehicles and cannons, remote-control tanks and more.
June 3-5 weekend
The Edmonds waterfront with its sandy beach is a pleasant place any time, but this weekend adds tours of classic yachts and a close-up look at hotshot hydroplanes during the Edmonds Waterfront Festival, Friday through Sunday.
June 10-12 weekend
Seattle’s premier celebration of African-American culture, Festival Sundiata, is at Seattle Center. Look for drum lines, dance, gospel choirs and the best of local jazz and contemporary music.
June 17-19 weekend
The true start of summer is celebrated with the Fremont Festival, June 17-19, and Solstice Parade, 3 p.m. June 18, Seattle’s funkified tribute to the forces of nature. Expect food, music, craft booths and rolling works of weirdness called Art Cars. The parade has elaborate costumes, giant puppets and handmade floats, led by a famous flotilla of unofficial but count-on-them-showing-up cyclists whose body paint is their only costume.
And don’t forget: Washington Brewers Festival, in Redmond, where you can take Dad on Father’s Day to sample more than 400 beers from 105 breweries.
June 24-26 weekend
Help the Greenwood District recover from a tough start to the year with a June 25 visit to one of the Northwest’s biggest bashes for automobile lovers, the Greenwood Car Show, which boasts “a mile and a half of classic rides” — everything from tricked-out hot rods to perfectly restored American land yachts of the 1970s.
July 1-4, Independence Day weekend
The Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival is a classic Fourth of July-weekend event in Seattle, on the same lake where the big fireworks show is staged, so it’s like a one-stop shopping center. Lots of salty craft on display, and fun stuff like the contest where you build a boat in 24 hours, then race it the next day.
July 8-10 weekend
Summertime community festivals kick in like afternoon thunderstorms in the convergence zone. Many choices this weekend, from Mercer Island Summer Celebration (with boat rides around the island) to Kent Cornucopia Days (can you say “fun run”?) to Ballard SeafoodFest (you can almost smell the alder-smoked salmon already) and more.
July 15-17 weekend
Do a few fun runs and you’ll have earned a pigout at the Bite of Seattle, Seattle Center’s annual festival of foodstuffs. Try a multicourse tasting meal from Seattle’s favorite restaurants for $12 at The Alley.
And don’t forget: The colorful Seafair Pow-Wow Days, showcasing Native American culture, food and dancing, and the pickin’ and grinning Darrington Bluegrass Festival, marking its 40th year, around the community that braved the Oso landslide.
July 22-24 weekend
July 29-31 weekend
It’s the Eastside’s big summer arts event, the prestigious, juried Bellevue Arts Museum ARTSfair (in its 70th year), teamed with a couple of other arts-and-crafts fairs that crowd downtown Bellevue.
And don’t forget: Pacific Northwest Scottish Highland Games & Clan Gathering, in Enumclaw, and the Seafair Torchlight Parade.
Aug. 5-7 weekend
It’s time for THUNDERBOATS-THUNDERBOATS-THUNDERBOATS (cue the echo machine). (And where is Pat O’Day when we really need him?) If you’re a newbie needing total immersion in a unique Seattle summer ritual, head for Lake Washington’s shores for SEAFAIR WEEKEND (oops, the caps key stuck again). That means unlimited hydroplane races (oh, and there’s an air show). Go. See. Drink a beer or six.
Aug. 12-14 weekend
Aug. 19-21 weekend
Seattle’s northern neighbor comes of age. Help mark the city of Shoreline’s 21st birthday during Celebrate Shoreline. Appropriately, there is a beer garden — along with music, a car show, a sand-castle contest and more.
Aug. 26-28 weekend
Need a Tilt-a-Whirl fix? It’s opening weekend of the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe. There’s a rodeo, car races, “crazy animal races” and much more.
Sept. 2-5, Labor Day weekend
It’s Bumbershoot time at Seattle Center. The annual festival of music, arts and culture has headliners including Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and Death Cab for Cutie. Also look for an early opener in Puyallup for this fall’s Washington State Fair. (You can do it at a trot or you can do it a gallop.)
And don’t forget: It’s Vintage Aircraft Weekend at Everett’s Paine Field.
Sept. 9-11 weekend
Puget Sound Bird Fest brings birding enthusiasts, wildlife photographers and artists to Edmonds for a weekend of guided walks, tours and boat rides.