Back with a bang.

Image: Seafair

Seafair is a Seattle institution that’s as difficult to succinctly explain as it is baffling to outsiders. As a recent transplant, naive to this annual summer jubilee, I asked my friend, a lifelong Seattleite, to explain what exactly Seafair was. Did it observe a particular holiday? Was it a music and arts festival? Was it like a state fair? What was the deal? 

“It’s sort of like, I don’t know, the Fourth of July plus pirates?” she offered, which, believe it or not, just made me more confused.

But Seafair doesn't begin and end on the Fourth. The festival comprises multiple weeks of community programming, despite being perhaps best-known for its fireworks display on Lake Union or the Boeing Seafair Air Show that concludes the fest with a very literal bang the first weekend of August.

Seafair can be divisive. Many locals have bemoaned the widespread disruption it brings, as well as the inescapably militaristic tint to the air force flight demonstrations and Fleet Week. But for all its detractors, it’s also beloved by many, and even the naysayers may be coaxed into a reluctant “yea/yay” after two years of disappointing cancellations. Some of the festival's programming went on last year in-person, but the big ticket events—the fireworks, the parades, the Blue Angels—were livestream only.

Partygoers at the 2019 Log Boom, where boaters tie up to anchored logs ostensibly to watch the hydroplanes overhead but in actuality to socialize and day drink.

Image: Seafair

All of the festival’s signature events—the milk carton derby, the triathlon, the Torchlight Run, the Torchlight Parade, Fleet Week, the Lake Union fireworks, and the Weekend Festival, which includes the air show and the hydroplane races—are on for this summer. The Blue Angels will debut a new jet, the F/A 18 Super Hornet, which promises, for better or worse, to be louder than ever. And in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the air force, the F-35 Lightning II Demonstration Team, who kick off the Super Bowl this year with a flyover, will make a special appearance. 

You can purchase tickets to events or reserve a free spot at Gas Works or Lake Union Park for viewing the fireworks display here

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