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Image: Harry Conrad

From Hiroshima To Hope lights up Green Lake every August 6.

Fun

Japanese Ceremony
Every August 6 in Hiroshima, the Japanese float lanterns to commemorate the World War II bombing—and for the past 25, Seattleites have, too. Now the largest such ceremony outside of Japan, FROM HIROSHIMA TO HOPE lights up Green Lake in a breathtaking ceremony that also includes a keynote speaker, concerts, poetry, taiko drumming, and up to 1,000 lanterns (provided free to the public) that float out on the water with personal messages written on the rice paper shades: memories of those lost to acts of violence as well as wishes for the future. From Hiroshima to Hope, 425-868-0285; www.hiroshimatohope.org

Swedish Happy Hour
It’s “all Swede, all night” at the SWEDISH CULTURAL CENTER’s weekly Friday happy hour: The hostess speaks Swedish (say “Hej!” when you see her), the booze is Swedish (Carnegie Porter, Svedka vodka), the food is Swedish (open-face smörgås sandwiches, saucy Swedish meatballs), and the midcentury modern furniture is…Danish. Okay, there’s the occasional inter-Scandinavian marauder, but a shot of anise-flavored aquavit goes down better with a chaser of cultural diversity. Technically, it’s a members-only party, but these Swedes are always happy to slip a guest pass to a new drinking buddy. Swedish Cultural Center, 1920 Dexter Ave N, Queen Anne, 206-283-1090; www.swedishculturalcenter.org

Scandinavian Bar
Oh, how Ballard loves its Scandinavian roots. And nowhere is that more on display than at THE COPPER GATE, a former beer-only joint transformed into a Viking’s lair. Bartenders pour aquavit behind a bar wrapped in a faux ship prow, while female servers, dressed only slightly less scantily than the models in the prominently displayed vintage nudie pics, float sursild (pickled herring) and gravlax (cured salmon) to your table. The Copper Gate, 6301 24th Ave NW, Ballard, 206-706-3292; www.thecoppergate.com

Japanese Sake Bar
In 1988 Johnnie Stroud joined the gaijin horde heading to Japan to teach English. He learned Japanese, married wife Taiko, and, via “lots of parties,” discovered sake. The couple moved back to the States in 1996 and began exporting secondhand jeans to Japan, but wanted to im port something, too. Stroud, meanwhile, found himself suddenly smitten with sake’s ancient traditions and vast range of local microbrews. Business met pleasure at SAKÉ NOMI, a tasting bar, bottle shop (with 160-odd brews), and thoroughly unpretentious sake clubhouse where do-ragged Johnnie pours samples from a rotating kikizake menu, letting its poetic tasting notes do the talking. Saké Nomi, 76 S Washington St, Pioneer Square, 206-467-7253; www.sakenomi.us

Puerto Rican Late-Night Happy Hour
LA ISLA
began as a Puerto Rican snack vendor at the Fremont Farmers Market, and a casual street-food vibe remains inside the restaurant’s permanent location on Market Street. At dinner you’ll eat alongside Ballard babes picking at their plátanos, but the party picks up around 10pm, when the price of mojitos drops to $3, and all appetizers are half off. La Isla, 2320 NW Market St, Ballard, 206-789-0516; www.laislaseattle.com

best-of-web-0709
Image: Lilly Warner

The Seattle Gaels hurling club started swinging in 2003.

Irish Hurling
Snicker at the fake sword–wielding wannabe knights of the Society for Creative Anachronism if you must, Seattle, but without them, you might never see a centuries-old Irish field game in Magnolia Park. Back in 2003, local SCA “knight” Rob Mullin was gettin’ medieval in the mountains of Oregon when he spied a fellow reenactor’s homemade hurls—distant cousins of the hockey stick used in hurling to advance a ball downfield and toward a goal—and brought his budding love for the sport back home to field his own team. The SEATTLE GAELS hurling club started swinging that same year, and by 2006 it won the national championship in its division—no magic spells necessary. Seattle Gaels, www.seattlegaels.com

International Beer Festival
Not every American fires up the grill on Independence Day: Every Fourth of July weekend, a grassy lot in Seattle Center is framed by a quadrant of booths containing kegs filled up with the world’s finest beers. Organized by the owner of Uber Tavern up on Aurora, it’s called the SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL BEER FESTIVAL, and it’s the most delicious, debauched exercise in global unity you’ll encounter all year. Watch out for the guys dressed in foam beer-bottle suits—they’re nothing but trouble. Seattle International Beer Festival, www.seattlebeerfest.com

International Cricket
SEATTLE
CRICKET CLUB
’s bowlers and batsmen have waged polite war in local parks since 1964, but it wasn’t until Microsoft brought waves of Indian and Pakistani programmers to the area that the SCC really found its groove. Like rec-league refugees, the club bounced from one public space to the next for decades before settling in Magnuson Park three years ago. Curious locals freaked out by cricket’s nearly indecipherable rules need not fear: Club president Bunti Sarai says players are happy to teach newbies the ways of the wicket. Seattle Cricket Club, www.seattlecricket.com

Australian-Rules Football
Nine months after landing in Seattle in early 1998, Aussie Matt Muller decided the best way to cure his subequatorial homesick blues was to recruit a few friends, meet in a nearby field, and pummel each other for possession of a ball. Thus, the SEATTLE GRIZZLIES—the only Australian-rules football club in town—was born. Eleven years later, the team has 65 members, nearly two-thirds of whom are American. The Grizzlies regularly play their bruising blend of soccer, rugby, and football against rival clubs in Portland and Vancouver, and you can catch them scrimmaging in condensed “metro footy” matches at Moshier Park in Burien during spring and early summer. Seattle Grizzlies, www.seattlefooty.com

Scottish Highland Games
Not even kilts can debutch the brute-strength competitions at the PACIFIC NORTHWEST SCOTTISH HIGHLAND GAMES AND CLAN GATHERING. Since 1947, 300-pound titans of tartan-clad heavy lifting have stomped into Seattle from across the country to face off in nine configurations of heaving, slinging, and flipping weights across fields and over crossbars—not to mention make America’s ball-based sports look downright dainty by comparison. Pacific Northwest Scottish Highland Games and Clan Gathering, Enumclaw Expo Center, 45224 284th Ave SE, Enumclaw, 360-615-5631; www.sshga.org

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