Seattle's Summer Festivals

The Biggest and The Best Festivals in Town

Summer is especially precious in the Pacific Northwest. We endure so many months of mist, rain, snow and wind, that when the heavens open for three glorious months we react something like a starving man at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Consequently, there are more truly worthwhile festivals than even the unemployed would have time to enjoy.

More summer fun: Seafair | July 4th

  • 01 of 08
    Seattle Beerfest
    Kate Borkowski

    Sure, the Northwest loves its wines. And the recent renaissance of cocktail culture is a lot of fun. But fundamentally this is still beer country. From classics like Rainier to new favorites like Mac & Jack’s, Washingtonians love their locally brewed beer. Each year, thousands of beer-lovers descend on the Seattle Center to sample over 150 great beers, local, American, and international. Show up early, because taps on popular brews will run dry quickly.

  • 02 of 08
    Seafair Events
    Seafair. Official U.S. Navy Page

    There is no event more “Seattle” than Seafair. Other festivals may be squarely aimed at tourists and transplants, but this celebration of clowns, pirates, hydroplanes, and getting buzzed by Blue Angels is purely for the natives. A month-long celebration of our nautical heritage and future. Countless local events capped off by the big races on Lake Washington.

  • 03 of 08

    While GBLT pride festivals and parades are now relatively commonplace in America’s metropolises, Seattle was a pioneer in gay cultural acceptance, leading the pack with San Francisco and New York. When the weather is good, this festival attracts almost a quarter million people.

  • 04 of 08
    Seattle July 4th
    Seattle July 4th. Copyright jeff_golden

    The sponsors might change, but local consensus on this fireworks display does not: it’s the best show in town on the 4th. The balconies of the condos and houses on all sides of Lake Union are packed, parking is impossible to find for miles, kids are mesmerized (or crying): what else would the Founding Fathers want us to be doing?

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    As the Seattle Symphony takes much of the summer off, the Seattle Chamber Music Society rolls into Benaroya Hall and sets up shop for a month of serious classical music. Debussy, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Ravel, Stravinsky, Schubert, and plenty more.

  • 06 of 08
    Chinatown Dragon
    A dragon sculpture in Chinatown. Kristin Kendle

    This McDonald’s-sponsored event may not be a completely convincing slice of authentic Asian culture, but it still promises to be a lot of fun. Two days of music and street performing, dragon dances and lots of tasty food. Come down and see why you should be spending more time in the ID.

  • 07 of 08

    Bite of Seattle

    Bite of Seattle
    Bite of Seattle. Copyright rmeriales via Flickr

    Bite of Seattle is Seattle’s food mega-event, with over 60 restaurants, wine tastings, “green bites,” and other samplings. Due to popular request, most vendors will now be offering smaller “Just a Bite” portions for a lower price, so that you can save room to sample more great restaurants. Come early—the lines get big in the afternoon.

  • 08 of 08

    While Georgetown, Fremont, and Ballard residents might protest, Capitol Hill remains Seattle’s capital of cool. The tie-breaker is this annual summer music festival which draws acts from the pinnacle of hipdom (this year it’s MGMT, Jack White and Dead Weather, and Blue Scholars). Whole blocks of the Hill shut down and stages are set up. Expect a raucous, sweaty time.

    Edited by Kristin Kendle.