The last month of spring is upon us, and while public life isn't back to normal just yet, Seattle's flora and fauna are blossoming to their usual fullness and annual festivals are returning in a modified fashion. Keep reading to plan ahead for the most noteworthy events both online and in person this May, from the Pike Place Market Flower Festival over Mother's Day weekend to Seattle Beer Week, from the Seattle Transgender Film Festival to an On the Boards Drive-In with Henry Art Gallery, and from the stacked Crosscut Festival to the opening of Black Refractions: Highlights from the Studio Museum in Harlem at the Frye. For even more options, check out our complete streaming events calendar and our guide to in-person things to do.
Events are online unless otherwise noted.
Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month Celebration
May is Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month! Tune in to Seattle Center Festál's Facebook page for a live mini-festival featuring an address from Mayor Jenny Durkan, a performance from the International Lion Dance Team and local drill teams, the annual Alan Sugiyama hum bow eating contest, a food demo, and more.
(Sun May 2)
Northwest Folklife Festival
This gigantic Memorial Day weekend hippie fest is usually full of lovely people dancing, performing world music (from yodeling to beatboxing and everything in between), and leading workshops in arts and crafts. The overwhelming aspect of it—weaving through crowds of people—won't be an issue at this year's 50th-anniversary event, which will take place virtually.
To mark the signing of the Norwegian Constitution at Eidsvoll on May 17, 1814, Norway celebrates Syttende Mai with parades and festivities all over the world. While the biggest procession takes place in the city of Bergen, Seattle's most Nordic neighborhood, Ballard, also typically hosts a consistently large turnout of spectators as marching bands and drill teams galavant down the street waving Norwegian flags. We're not quite ready for that yet, so you can look forward to a lineup of live virtual events (like a luncheon and live music) instead.
(Mon May 17)
Virtual Kodomo no Hi
This Children's Day festival features Japanese dance performances, Yukata dress-up, taiko drumming, martial arts, games, and more, with new events and activities released online every Sunday in May.
Baby Animals and Blooms Days
Knock out a bundle of springtime activities in one weekend by visiting Maris Farms for its tulip field, its close-up animal encounters with fluffy farm babies, and its farmers market and beer garden.
Maris Farms, Buckley (through May 9)
2021 Peony Festival
Peonies rank high on the list of sheerly impressive flowers: Ruffle upon ruffle of gorgeous petals exploding out of a bud the size of a baby's fist. Of course, that's only one kind of peony, and the Seattle Chinese Garden will have more than 400 plants for you to admire. Plus, they'll have a traditional Chinese painting presentation by George Jiang, a Qigong demonstration, live guzheng music from the Seattle Guzheng Academy, and more.
Seattle Chinese Garden, West Seattle (May 1-2)
Pike Place Market Flower Festival
Every spring, Pike Place fills with even more locally sourced flowers than usual (which is saying something) to ensure that everyone shopping for Mother's Day flowers gets the perfect bouquets of tulips, daffodils, irises, and peonies. This year, in light of social distancing, the event will take the form of a drive-through at multiple locations, where you can pick up your preordered arrangement (there are three options, ranging from small to large). When you spend $50 or more at Pike Place businesses and bring your receipt(s) to the info tent under the clock, you'll receive an as-yet-unannounced gift.
Pike Place Market, Downtown (May 8-9)
Returning to their filmmaking roots after establishing themself as an "alt-gloom" indie rocker, Danny Denial directs this Seattle-centric "Afropunk apocalyptic web series set in the year 2022" that features an all-Black soundtrack and stars the Black Tones' Eva Walker, local drag duo LÜCHI, and Beverly Crusher's Cozell Wilson. Whether or not you've seen the other episodes, don't miss this one-night-only screening of the final two installments, which will be followed by a Q&A with the cast and a special announcement regarding Bazzooka's future.
(Thurs May 6)
BECU Drive-in Movies at Marymoor Park
For the last 17 years or so, Marymoor Park has been one of Seattle's hottest destinations for outdoor movie viewing. While you won't be able to set up on the grass this year, BECU will keep the tradition going by turning to a drive-in model for the second year, screening classic flicks like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Jaws on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights in May. Food trucks will be onsite, too.
Marymoor Park, Redmond (May 4-20)
HUMP! Greatest Hits - Volume 3
The HUMP! team is bringing back some fan-favorite amateur porn shorts from 2015-2018 in the third volume of streamable compilations.
(April 30-May 29)
Translations: Seattle Transgender Film Festival
Did you know Seattle is home to the world's largest trans film festival? Launched in 2006 by Three Dollar Bill Cinema, the fest will be presented in an online format this year.
FOOD & DRINK
Cooking and Conversation with Chef Ethan Stowell
Help fund the Ballard Food Bank's new home at this online event with Chef Ethan Stowell, who will impart culinary techniques, nuances, and cues to look for while cooking.
(Thurs May 6)
Max's Picnic Book by Max Halley & Ben Benton
Max Halley, the owner of the legendary London sandwich shop Max's, will discuss his newest book, Max's Picnic Book, with Dan Crookston of Mean Sandwich (a match made in heaven).
(Thurs May 6)
Seattle Beer Week 2021
Seattle’s craft-beer scene is always alive and bubbling with activity, but during Beer Week, that geeky enthusiasm gets kicked into high gear, with a stacked lineup of beer dinners, festivals, socials, pub crawls, and releases galore. This year, the festivities will get adapted into a 2021-friendly format. Instead of in-person events, expect collaboration beers on draft and in cans from Burke-Gilman Brewing Company, Future Primitive Brewing, Hellbent Brewing Company, Holy Mountain Brewing, and Stoup Brewing, and possibly some virtual programming and other safe alternatives.
Vietnamese by Uyen Luu
London-based writer, photographer, and food stylist Uyen Luu will be joined by Seattle Times food writer Tan Vinh for a chat on her latest cookbook, Vietnamese, which includes 80 recipes the author grew up with, from crispy roast pork belly to sea bass in tomato, celery, and dill broth.
(Fri May 14)
Drive 'n Drag
Join Asia O'Hara, Vanessa "Vanjie" Mateo, Kim Chi, Naomi Smalls, and the soon-to-be-announced season 13 finalists of RuPaul's Drag Race as they "rid the world of 2020" at a drive-in drag extravaganza.
Westfield Southcenter, Tukwila (May 14-16)
Pacific Northwest Ballet Presents: Rep 5
George Balanchine's joyful, proto-sci-fi ballet Coppélia—about a young girl who, to great avail, pretends to be a doll to get her crush to fall in love with her—is the centerpiece of Pacific Northwest Ballet's fifth rep of the season.
Raja Feather Kelly’s HYSTERIA
With video direction by Laura Snow and photography by Kate Enman, Seattle artist Raja Feather Kelly continues his study of pop culture and its displacement of queer Black subjectivity in this solo dance/theater/visual performance.
(Thurs May 6)
Reopening Doors to the Arts
Seattle Theatre Group's annual fundraiser will encourage you to donate to their associated performing arts spaces by bringing you live appearances from the cast of the Broadway musical Ain't Too Proud, performances from Brandi Carlile, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and the Degenerate Art Ensemble, and more cool online entertainment.
(Sat May 15)
Virtually Spectacular: MARS | PERSEVERANCE
On the Boards' space-themed fundraiser, their biggest of the year, will be hosted by former Stranger writer Angela Garbes, with performances by Timothy White Eagle and Erin Markey. From May 13 to May 20, Seattle residents will also be able to place a bid on dinner packages from Little Neon Taco, Harry's Fine Foods, Musang, Brothers & Co., Yalla, or Eight Row to enjoy during the main event.
(Thurs May 20)
READINGS & TALKS
Chicano poet Alberto Ríos, who was named Arizona's first poet laureate in 2013 and continues to hold the title, talks about his affinity for lyricism and magical realism in this pre-taped Seattle Arts & Lectures Q&A with Donna Miscolta (Living Color: Angie Rubio Stories).
(Fri May 28)
Asian American Women Rising: NOT The Model Minority
Local experts who study AAPI history and hate crimes will speak to the recent surge of nationwide violence against Asian Americans and how to be an ally here in Seattle.
(Sat May 22)
Claudia Castro Luna, Honorée Fannone Jeffers, Sasha LaPointe
Edited by recent US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith and poet/editor John Freeman, the new anthology There’s A Revolution Outside, My Love: Letters from a Crisis is a response to the 2020 protests against racial injustice and police brutality that generated from the virally captured murder of George Floyd. Contributors Claudia Castro Luna of Seattle, Sasha LaPointe of Tacoma, and Honorée Fanonne Jeffers of Oklahoma will read their pieces with Elliott Bay.
(Fri May 14)
In the style of the New Yorker Festival, local news site Crosscut presents two days of timely conversations with nationally known journalists, authors, and politicians. This year's lineup is more than impressive, featuring talks from Jane Goodall, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, Nancy Pelosi, Judy Woodruff, Rick Steves, Bill Nye, Pramila Jayapal, Robert Reich, and many more. VIP attendees will also enjoy perks like a food and drink meal kit, gift totes, books, and exclusive programming.
Elissa Washuta & Theresa Warburton with Kristen Millares Young
Native writers Elissa Washuta (My Body Is a Book of Rules) and Theresa Warburton (the co-editor of Shapes of Native Nonfiction) will discuss throughlines in Native women’s literature and offer previews of their upcoming books White Magic: Essays and Other Worlds Here: Honoring Native Women’s Writing in Contemporary Anarchist Movements, respectively.
(Thurs May 4)
Hugo Literary Series: Jeff VanderMeer, Lacy M. Johnson, and Juan Carlos Reyes
The White Horse of the Apocalypse will actualize in the form of a reading with Jeff VanderMeer (Hummingbird Salamander, most recently), Lacy M. Johnson (The Reckonings), Juan Carlos Reyes (A Summer’s Lynching), and Eva Walker (one half of the local rock duo the Black Tones), who will explore various conquerings of religion, nature, and culture as part of Hugo House's Apocolypse-themed lit series.
(Fri May 7)
Jewell Parker Rhodes
Jewell Parker Rhodes will join Elliott Bay with the new edition of her 1997 novel Magic City, which takes its title from the nickname of the once-thriving Black neighborhood of Greenwood, Oklahoma, which was the site of a racist massacre one hundred years ago.
(Wed May 12)
Michelle Zauner in conversation with EJ Koh - Crying in H Mart
Michelle Zauner, known for making dreamy indie-pop under the name Japanese Breakfast, will discuss her searingly poignant new debut memoir Crying In H Mart, which details her Korean American upbringing in Eugene, Oregon, losing her mother to terminal pancreatic cancer, and finding connection through food. She'll be joined by E.J. Koh (The Magical Language of Others).
(Mon May 3)
The Moth Mainstage
Five storytellers will take the virtual stage at Benaroya for a night of memoir-ish oral history, as part of radio sensation The Moth's Mainstage series.
(Fri May 21)
Patrick Radden Keefe
New Yorker staffer and investigative writer Patrick Radden Keefe is the author of three books, including Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, which traces the events surrounding a notorious killing in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. This pre-taped Seattle Arts & Lectures event, part of their journalism series, features a Q&A with prolific author Timothy Egan.
(Mon May 10)
Mary Roach: Live & Online
"Mary Roach has written about corpses (her description of severed heads sitting in dog bowls awaiting the steady hands of plastic surgeons will never leave me), shitting in space (look up "fecal decapitation"), orgasms (check out that TED Talk for info on recipes for semen and ancient greek orgasm theory), and she does it all with a clear eye and a dry humor," Rich Smith has noted. Join her tonight for a live Seattle Arts & Lectures talk online, where she'll be chatting about her forthcoming book about the often fraught encounters between animals and people.
(Sun May 9)
Sarah Sentilles with Cheryl Strayed
Following her novel Draw Your Weapons, Sarah Sentilles is out with her first memoir, Stranger Care: A Memoir of Loving What Isn’t Ours. She'll be joined tonight by Cheryl Strayed (Wild).
(Fri May 7)
Write-O-Rama Summer 2021
Get the maximum amount of instruction from Hugo House's excellent prose writers and poets at this annual event featuring five hours of (online) mini-workshops and talks.
(Sun May 23)
Alden Mason: Fly Your Own Thing
The late Northwest artist Alden Mason never got to see his work in a museum, but the prolific painter's work "helped pave the way from the aesthetics of the Northwest School to midcentury modernist art in the Pacific Northwest," according to public materials.
Bellevue Arts Museum (May 14-October 10)
Black Refractions: Highlights from the Studio Museum in Harlem
Nearly 80 artworks created by influential Black artists between the 1920s to the present, from Barkley Hendricks to Lorna Simpson to Alma Thomas, are on display thanks to the American Federation of Arts and the Studio Museum in Harlem.
Frye Art Museum, First Hill (May 22-August 15)
Drie Chapek: Churning
"If there are gods, I think they may be hiding inside Drie Chapek's paintings," The Stranger's Chase Burns once wrote. This new collection of oil works and dreamy collages hold up that standard.
Greg Kucera Gallery, Pioneer Square (through May 29)
Drive-In w/ Henry Art Gallery
On the Boards will once again invite car-havers to turn off their engines, stay in their vehicles, and enjoy a series of films on the big screen, this time dedicated to Henry Art Gallery-curated artists who use moving image as a means of exploring "colonial mentalities and tactics" by responding to everything from surveillance to late capitalism.
On the Boards, Queen Anne (May 1-15)
Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle
Last featured at the Seattle Art Museum in The Migration Series (1940-41), works by the great 20th-century Black narrative artist Jacob Lawrence will return in another central exhibition highlighting 30 12-by-16-inch panels that "interpret and express the democratic debates that defined early America and still resonate today."
Seattle Art Museum, Downtown (through May 23)
Seattle Asian Art Museum Reopening
The Volunteer Park institution will return after a year of closure due to COVID, which is all the more exciting for those who didn't see the museum's impressive renovations during its brief blue-sky period before lockdown. You can book a timed visit (GA tickets are on sale as of Thursday, April 29) from 10 am-5 pm on Friday-Sunday starting Friday, May 28, or as early as Friday, May 7 if you're a member.
Seattle Asian Art Museum, Capitol Hill (Fri May 28)
Independent Bookstore Day
The premise of Indie Bookstore Day is as simple and enticing as it gets: whatever state you're in, seek out your local independent booksellers and shop from their online or IRL shelves so that Amazon never becomes our only option for procuring new reading material. This year, you'll receive a free Seattle Indie Bookstore Day tote bag when you make a purchase at 10 of 21 participating Seattle bookstores (in-person or online) during the weeklong event. See our guide to participating bookstores here.
Various locations and online (through May 3)
Kubota Garden Foundation HOUSEplants for the HOPEful Plant Sale
Add some unusual houseplants to your apartment jungle at this online sale hosted by Kubota Garden.
Rally Together for the Market
Order takeout from Pike Place vendors and tune in virtually to see how the market has overcome the challenges of the past year and what lies ahead on the road to recovery.
(Thurs May 20)
Tilth Alliance's Edible Plant Sale
Tilth Alliance is moving its annual edible plant sale online to serve your quarantined spring gardening needs. You'll be able to browse selections and order them for pickup at Rainier Beach Urban Farm & Wetlands.
Bushwick Book Club: Like a Mother by Angela Garbes
The Bushwick Book Club will offer an original musical adaptation of Angela Garbes's memoir Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy, an investigative reflection on the mental and physical health of mothers during and after childbirth.
(Sat May 22)
Marshall Law Band with Tres Leches
Bombastically blending the tenets of funk and hip-hop, Marshall Law Band strives to play across all genres that allow for a kaleidoscopic explosion of taste and color. They'll head up this outdoor concert bill with support from local power trio Tres Leches.
Museum of Flight, Tukwila (Sat May 29)
Naomi Wachira: An Evening of Music and Celebration
HealthPoint will continue its 50th anniversary celebration with a virtual concert featuring Kenyan American singer-songwriter Naomi Wachira. What's more, Nue Seattle will offer a trio of appetizers for two, highlighting cuisines from across Africa like jollof rice (a popular Nigerian celebration dish), suya spice chicken and vegetable kebabs, and South African vegan bobotie (a hearty dish of curried, spiced vegetables, layered and baked with a creamy egg topping). The food package also includes beans from Boon Boona Coffee in Renton.
(Sat May 22)
Sound Off! 2021
For the 20th year, MoPOP's Sound Off! will give local, under-21 bands a chance to get the floor at Sky Church in a live broadcast hosted by KEXP's Troy Nelson and featuring two-song performances and brief artist interviews. This year's lineup includes J-pop-influenced to Aurora Avenue, composer and guitarist Trevor Eulau, sparkly synth-pop outfit CANNXN, and others. (Sat May 15)
SRJO Plays SRJO: Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra
Tune in to a special concert of pieces written and composed by and for Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra players during COVID-19.
(Sun May 9)
SPORTS & RECREATION
39th Annual Nordstrom Beat the Bridge to Beat Diabetes
Help fund diabetes research through JDRF by running in Nordstrom's annual Beat the Bridge 5 or 8K. Your goal is to cross the University Bridge before it's raised at the two-mile mark, but you can also opt for a virtual version on your running trail of choice if you prefer, in which case you can submit your results online.
Husky Stadium or wherever you choose (Sun May 16)
Do some squats in preparation for this annual climb, where thousands of participants hike up the Columbia Tower's 69 flights of stairs (1,311 steps). Proceeds benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's blood cancer research.
Columbia Center, Downtown (Sat May 15)
Bike Everywhere Month 2021
Whether you're a longtime cycler or a relative newbie, Bike Everywhere Month invites you to (you guessed it) ditch all other modes of transportation for your faithful two-wheeler for the entire month of May. To keep you motivated, there will be plenty of celebrations and challenges throughout the month.
Wherever you are (May 1-31)
Mariners Home Games
The Seattle Mariners have received approval from the State of Washington and King County to host up to 9,000 fans for the season. Tickets will be available in "small, socially distanced pods" of up to six fans, who must be from the same household.
T-Mobile Park, Sodo (May 1-3, 13-19 & 27-31)
Seattle Bike 'n' Brews
Pedal along the Duwamish and Green River trails from Georgetown to Tukwila, knowing that cold microbrews are waiting for you at various brewery pit stops along the way.
Two Beers Brewing, Georgetown (May 1-31)
Sounders Home Games
The Seattle Sounders return to Lumen Field for the first time in a year, welcoming fans at 25% capacity in compliance with Phase 3 guidelines for matches against LA Galaxy (Sun May 2), LA Football Club (Sun May 16), Atlanta United (Sun May 23), and Austin FC (Sat May 29).
Lumen Field, Sodo (May 2, 16, 23 & 29)
Twenty life-sized dino replicas will make a home at the zoo for the entire month of May.
Woodland Park Zoo, Phinney (May 1-31)
Pacific Northwest startup and technology companies will be awarded for their innovation and leadership at the annual GeekWire Awards.
(Thurs May 20)