GoNOMAD Travel

Seattle Music, Dance and Theater Festivals

Seattle Happenings All Year Long

By Christa Romano

Headed to Seattle?
The following are some of the not-to-be-missed annual festivals and events in the Seattle area. Whichever month you happen to find yourself in this eclectic city you’re bound to find an interesting and cultural event, rain or shine.

Fetching directions......
The crowd at the Bumbershoot Seattle Arts Festival over Labor Day weekend

January Chinese New Year
International District
(206) 382-1197
The dates of this famous festival will change according to the lunar calendar. But whether it is the year of the tiger or the rabbit, this famous annual event includes all the color of the Orient. Dragons and drummers parade through the streets while you enjoy traditional foods and ethnic performances.

Martin Luther King Celebration
Seattle Center
(206) 684-7200
Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr’s dream with major gospel music groups and speakers that present King’s speeches as King himself.

A garden from the North West Flower and Garden Show in Seattle

Seattle Boat Show
Northwest Marine Trade Association.
(206) 634-0911
Visit the west coast’s largest boat show exhibiting over 1,000 boats and other recreational water vessels.


Northwest Flower and Garden Show
Washington State Convention Center
(253) 756-2121
Spend some time wandering through six acres of inspiring gardens in the dead of winter. The show also features free seminars for all gardening levels for this week long event in February.


Samba dancers pose before the 2007 Summer Solstice Parade and Pageant, Fremont Fair, Seattle, Washington.

Irish Festival
Seattle Center
(206) 223-3608
Enjoy all things Irish, right around Saint Patrick’s Day, including traditional Irish dance, language lessons, genealogy workshops and many family oriented activities.


Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival
Seattle Center House, Fisher Pavilion
(206) 723-2003
Experience and learn about traditional Japanese culture with this annual spring festival

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Mount Vernon, WA
Handmade arts and crafts, homemade food and hundreds of thousands of tulips all in the same valley, offering breathtaking views for the entire month of April, just an hour away from the city.


Seattle Maritime Festival
Bell Street Pier (Pier 66)

Embrace the port-town character of Seattle with tugboat races, entertainment on the water and a chowder cook-off.

A milk-carton dragon at the 2008 Seafair

Seattle International Film Fest
McCaw Hall

Watch extraordinary films from around the world during this month-long orgy of films, sponsored by Cinema Seattle.

The Fremont Fair
(206) 633 4409

Every year on the summer solstice, Fremont celebrates the summer and the quirky character of the city with a weekend full of eclectic and free-spirited activities.


Fire Festival
Pioneer Square
(206) 622-6235

A celebration of the 1889 fire that leveled the area. Parade of antique and contemporary fire equipment, special musical events, arts and crafts, and a dedication of the Firefighters Memorial sculpture that stands in Occidental Park.

Shakespeare in the Park

A pumpkin carving contest at the Fremont Oktoberfest

Luther Burbank Park, Mercer Island, Bainbridge Island, downtown Winslow
(206) 236-3545

Shakespearian performances Friday to Sunday and concerts in the Park other days.

West Seattle Summer Fest
The Junction
(206) 297-6801
Musicians, sidewalk performers and buskers. Tidbits of specialty foods and wine samples. Eat, drink and celebrate summer for a week in July. Summer Festival on the Green at Chateau Ste. Michelle (winery)
(425) 488-1133
Major music events featuring top jazz, rock, blues and contemporary artists on the lawn July through early September.

Island Days Street Dance & BBQ
Bainbridge Island, downtown Winslow
(206) 842-3700

Several days of dancing, eating, and revelry. Take the ferry from Pier 52.Seafair
Puget Sound
(206) 728-0123

Top class hydroplane events, a not-to-be-missed torchlight parade through downtown, usually around the third week. Locals moor their boats to logs on Lake Washington for entire days of watching the hydro races while lounging in the sun, for it rarely rains in July.

Pacific NW Scottish Highland Games & Clan Gathering

Enumclaw Expo Center
(206) 522-2541

Twirling kilt-clad dancers and acrobatic games, colorful plaids, bagpipes. Lots o’ Scots in the Northwest, some left over from Hudson’s Bay Company days.


Lake City Pioneer Days

Most of events are near Lake city Way NE and NE 125th St., Lake City (NW side of Lake Washington)
(206) 363-3287
Pioneer Days started in 1947 and has been celebrating on August first with parades, booths, games, contests, street fairs and sidewalk sales ever since.



Seattle Arts Festival (Labor Day Weekend)
Seattle Center and around town, Labor Day Weekend
(206) 281-7788
2,500 artists, authors, craftspersons, performers of all shapes and sizes gather for one of the top arts festivals in the entire country.


Hundreds of booths line the main stretch at the West Seattle Summer Fest

This centuries old tradition has only recently been celebrated in Seattle but has already been named one of the best places in the world to celebrate. Beer gardens, pumpkin carving contests, German food booths, arts and crafts and a 5k run with a beer-belly division. Oktoberfest is open to and welcoming of all ages.

Earshot Jazz Festival
(206) 547-6763
Enjoy a series of concerts by some of the most important and emerging jazz artists in the world, rare jazz films, photo exhibits, panel discussions, educational programs and more.


Tou Ger Xiong plays a traditional instrument to celebrate the Hmong New Year.

Hmong New Year’s Celebration
Seattle Center
(206) 684-7200
Dance, traditional music, historical exhibits and the customary courtship ritual of ball tossing by the uncommon group of the Hmong people as they celebrate the Lunar New Year.


Seattle Christmas Ships
Lake Union, Lake Washington, Puget Sound
(206) 622-18687

Christmas is a big deal in the city. Elaborately decorated ships, yachts and tugs on parade and in private forays onto the waterways. Watch from lakeside or Sound-side restaurants while you dine. This is one Seattle event not to be missed.New Year’s at the Needle
Seattle Center
(206) 443-2100

The towering Space Needle was left from the 1962 World’s Fair. Fireworks set off from the Needle at midnight are enjoyed by hordes of gaping celebrants below. Other Seattle Center events that same night keep everyone busy.