World Traveler

A Guide to Seattle’s Summer Cultural Festivals

Snag a taste of the dance, music, food, and crafts that the world has to offer—without leaving the city.

By Sam Jones July 10, 2019

The Seafair Indian Days Powwow celebrates indigenous people and culture, with full-regalia dancing at the forefront. 

Polish Festival Seattle
Where else in Seattle can you combine Chopin, vodka, and pierogi? At this family-friendly event, a mushroom hunting table and face painting station keep the kids occupied while the adults veer toward a beer garden, a traditional wianki wreath workshop, or pickling demonstrations. Main stage will house performances from traditional dance groups, accordion players, and folk bands. July 13, Seattle Center, Free 

Seafair Indian Days Powwow
Natives and non-natives alike are welcome at this celebration of indigenous cooking, jewelry-making, and full-regalia dancing. This year, the festival honors its Two-Spirit members and loved ones with the theme “Love is Sacred.” Never been to a powwow? Check the FAQs for best practices. July 19–21, Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center, Friday Free, Saturday & Sunday $5

Bon Odori
Another extension of Seafair, Bon Odori is a Buddhist memorial festival reflecting on ancestry, tradition, and gratitude. Japanese food booths, martial arts performances, and craft exhibits accompany the main music and dancing events. July 20–21, Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple, Free 

Pista sa Nayon
Running for 30 years now, this community gathering and festival focuses on Filipino culture, and explores traditional and contemporary music and dance, crafts, and loads of food. July 28, Seward Park Amphitheater, Free

Umoja Fest
“Umoja” is the Swahili word for “unity,” which is quite fitting for this celebration of African diaspora culture. A basketball tournament, the AfricanTown Heritage Parade, and an extensive set of musicians, performers, and food vendors suggest how this festival has been able to push collective change since the 1940s. Aug 2–4, Judkins Park, Free 

Seattle Arab Festival
A stand-up comedian, live music, and a hookah lounge are among the cultural fixtures highlighted at this nonprofit showcase. Vendors will offer goodies from the Middle East like falafel, baklawa, and manaqeesh zaater, and the little ones can take advantage of the hands-on kids zone. Aug 10–11, Seattle Center, Free 

Chief Seattle Days 
This three-day public festival (camping available) hosts song and dance groups, a youth pageant for Suquamish members and descendants, gravesite honoring, and lots of salmon to eat. If you’re the sportier type, there's golf, softball, and horseshoe tournaments, a 5k fun run, and canoe races. Aug 16–18, Downtown Suquamish, Free

Held during the week of Brazilian Folklore Day, this community celebration mixes dancing, drumming, live music, film showings, and the Afro-Brazilian martial art, capoeira. Aug 18, Seattle Center, Free 

Nordic Sól
Arctic culture will be center stage at this year’s Nordic showcase. Climate change is a topic of the planned PechaKucha session, indigenous youth perform at the Circumpolar Hip Hop Collab, and Ragnar Axelsson’s Glacier photo exhibition is on display all weekend. Aug 22–25, National Nordic Museum, Free–$65

Tibet Fest
The Tibetan diaspora is small in number, and its culture has been difficult to preserve, but this showcase aims to change that. The festival will feature a marketplace with handmade crafts and prayer flags, a varied array of visual arts, kids activities, discussion platforms, and food vendors. Aug 24–25, Seattle Center, Free 

Live Aloha Hawaiian Cultural Festival 
Hula, lei-making, and bowls on bowls of poke are just the beginning of this celebration’s offerings. Craft-making stations, keiki activities, and islander musicians are also anticipated. Sept 8, Seattle Center, Free

Seattle Fiestas Patrias
With its new theme, “Building Bridges,” Fiestas Patrias hopes to not only recognize Latin American independence, but also celebrate unity, pride, and support for natives and U.S.-born Latinos alike. Saturday, Sea Mar hosts its traditional parade and community festival in South Park, and Seattle Center has music, food, art exhibits, and a health fair both days. Sept 14–15, Seattle Center and South Park Community Center, Free  

Fremont Oktoberfest
Outside the typical Oktoberfest tippling (100 craft beers!), this celebration welcomes the whole family on Sunday for its Street Scramble scavenger hunt, Dogtoberfest (what it sounds like), and yoga. Sept 20–22, Fremont, $25–$40

Festa Italiana
A grape-stomping competition, cooking demos from local chefs, and a kid-oriented opera are among the festivities to expect in Festa's 32nd year. We may as well get ready to carb up now, for what’s more Italian than pasta, pizza, and sandwiches? Sept 27–29, Seattle Center, Free 

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