Look Ahead

Your Guide to Seattle's Biggest Annual Festivals

Here's When the Capitol Hill Block Party, the Fremont Solstice Fair, and More Big Events Are Happening in 2023
January 20, 2023
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It's not summer in Seattle without the Fremont Fair and Fremont Solstice Parade. (Jessica Stein)

Out of all of the wonderful things to do in Seattle, there are a few major annual festivals that are so iconic that it's basically a requirement to know about them. Whether you're planning a trip to our fair city or you live here and you're planning out your year, here are the biggest events you should have on your radar. Of course, there are many more events happening this year that we recommend—check out our 2023 guide to browse all of them.

JANUARY

MLK Day March & Rally Add to a List
Garfield High School's annual day of events celebrates the life and legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. with an opportunity fair, workshops, and the West Coast's "longest running" MLK march. Leading up to it, the Seattle MLK Jr. Coalition also organizes a week of equity-minded programming.
January 16, 2023

FEBRUARY

Chinatown-International District Lunar New Year Celebration Add to a List
This Year of the Rabbit celebration will give you something to hop about with Chinese cultural dance, live entertainment, and vendor booths. Don't miss out on the much-loved neighborhood food walk, which will offer scrumptious bites from Chinatown-ID businesses.
Sat Feb 4, 2023

MARCH

Emerald City Comic Con Add to a List
Geeks across fandoms save their most inventive cosplay for Emerald City Comic Con, the biggest local comic event of the year. The four-day festival is filled to the brim with panels, meetups, special events, fun parties, and tons and tons of guests hanging out in the artist alley.
March 2–5, 2023

Taste Washington Add to a List
Immerse yourself in four days of pure oenophilia with this behemoth event billing itself as “the nation’s largest single-region wine and food event.” The Grand Tasting (March 11–12) unites more than 200 Washington wineries, 50 local restaurants, and a number of acclaimed local and national chefs, while other signature events include a dinner series, a seafood party, seminars, and more.
March 6–13, 2023

Moisture Festival Add to a List
Moisture Festival is devoted to the diverse variety of performers Seattle has fostered over the years, from circus acts to comedians, burlesque dancers to musicians, and jugglers to tap dancers. Claiming to be the world’s largest comedy/variety show festival in the world, the nearly month-long extravaganza features flagship event Variété (with matinée and rather racier late-night versions), the bawdy, adults-only Libertease Cabaret, featuring burlesque dancers and scantily-clothed aerial performers, plus workshops, talks, and special opening and closing nights.
March 23–April 16, 2023

APRIL

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Add to a List
After the long, hard winter, the best way to shock you out of seasonal depression is to stick your face in a ton of fresh flowers. You’re in luck, because Skagit Valley’s annual Tulip Festival is really something to behold as, quite literally, millions of pink, yellow, purple, orange, and red tulips shoot up from the ground and announce that winter is finally over. (Or at least, it’s over in the rest of the world. It’ll be chilly here through June.) While you could fly to Holland to get your fill of tulips, the trip up I-5 is quicker, cheaper, and, with one mountain range to the east and another to your west, even more Instagrammable than Amsterdam.
April 1–30, 2023

Seattle Restaurant Week Add to a List
Seattle Restaurant Week is actually two weeks, but we're not complaining—it's double the "chance to celebrate and support our culinary community" through menus curated especially for the occasion. With a variety of unique prix fixe and combo meals at various price points, it's a great time to branch out and try something new.
April 16–29, 2023

MAY

Opening Day Add to a List
On the first Saturday of May for more than a century, hundreds of recreational boats have paraded from Portage Bay through the Montlake Cut for Seattle Yacht Club's Opening Day to celebrate the official opening of Seattle's boating season. Watch from the shore as adorned vessels boast live bands and giant floats. Come early to check out the Windermere Cup Add to a List , a regatta featuring the University of Washington and other college crew teams from across the country and abroad.
Sat May 6, 2023

Seattle International Film Festival Add to a List
The Seattle International Film Festival is the largest film festival in the United States, with more than 200 films (spread over 25 days) watched by over 100,000 people at six theaters across the city. It's impressively grand and one of the most exciting and widely attended arts events Seattle has to offer. 
May 11–21, 2023

U District Street Fair Add to a List
Established in 1970 to help mend a community rocked by protests and violence, the U District Street Fair has since become a regional event of art, craft vendors, and multicultural food offerings. It's the nation's longest-running festival of its kind, bringing over 50,000 annual visitors to the Ave.
May 20–21, 2023

Northwest Folklife Add to a List
For those who aren’t hep to Folklife, it’s a huge open-air music/art festival at Seattle Center, and there are buskers and actual concerts and impromptu jam seshes, plus tons of stalls selling gorgeous food from around the world, along with ethnic arts and cultures being showcased. Oh, and there are a bunch of cool workshops and lectures, too. It’s all real crunchy and wholesome. If you haven’t been, you should totally go. MEG VAN HUYGEN
May 26–29, 2023

JUNE

Ballard SeafoodFest Add to a List
Originally started as a celebration of the neighborhood’s fishing industry in 1974, this festival has expanded over the years to include a salmon barbecue dinner, a crab shack, a beer garden replete with local craft brews, food and artisan craft vendors, a skateboarding competition, and live music from amazing local bands. Gluttons for punishment can enroll in the lutefisk eating contest, an annual competition to see who can scarf the most of the salty, gelatinous fish.
June 14–16, 2023

Fremont Fair Add to a List
Celebrate summer at the Fremont Solstice Parade Add to a List , a Seattle rite of passage known primarily for its elaborately painted (and sometimes just wild 'n' free) nude bicyclists—but also offering plenty of stilt-walking, giant-puppet-operating, and twirling around in circles. The procession, organized by the Fremont Arts Council, weaves through the self-proclaimed Center of the Universe right back to the Fremont Fair for shopping, street performances, local bands, a dog parade, and free-spirited, wacky artistic expression. Expect the unexpected.
June 17–18, 2023

Capitol Hill Block Party Add to a List
Capitol Hill Block Party is a large-scale weekend music festival that originally started as a small neighborhood get-together and has since morphed into a massive spectacle of Top 40 headliners and Seattle heavy hitters. It all happens in the Pike/Pine corridor, giving you plenty of opportunities to take advantage of neighborhood bars and restaurants while you take in the six stages of entertainment.
June 21–23, 2023

Seattle PrideFest Add to a List
Seattle PrideFest organizes two events, one on Capitol Hill and one at Seattle Center, over the course of Pride Weekend. Seattle Center is the terminus of Sunday's Seattle Pride Parade Add to a List , after it flows up Fourth Avenue and more or less into the International Fountain, where it polymorphs into a giant dance party that radiates outward and all over the Seattle Center campus. They also have food booths, nonprofit orgs, beer gardening, stages, and tons of live performers.
June 24–25, 2023

JULY

Amazon Seafair Summer Fourth Add to a List
Seattle's OG Fourth of July celebration is so popular that they don’t even bother putting “July” in the event name, because everybody knows what’s up. Seafair’s annual, nationally recognized fireworks show comes complete with pyrotechnics exploding up above Lake Union and “choreographed” to a very loud pre-recorded musical score. Gas Works Park is the traditional spot to watch it from, where you'll find beer gardens, scads of food vendors, live bands, and a glow-in-the-dark dance party. On the other side of the lake at Lake Union Park, you'll find a slightly more laidback vibe with food trucks, a bar, and a DJ, plus a darker sky view of the fireworks—though they'll still be choreographed to the music.
Tues July 4, 2023

West Seattle Summer Fest Add to a List
Whether you live in the neighborhood or you need an excuse to make the trek, West Seattle Summer Fest is a giant block party-style festival for everyone. Spend some time dancing to live music from great local bands, shopping, drinking in beer gardens, and enjoying other summery activities. The best part? There's no charge to get in!
July 14–16, 2023

Seattle Art Fair Add to a List
Since 2015, Seattle Art Fair has afforded Seattleites the opportunity to see cool, cutting-edge contemporary artwork from all over the world without leaving town. Plenty of Seattle institutions and artists get involved as well, and there are generally satellite events at other venues around the city, making for a jam-packed weekend of incredible art-viewing opportunities.
July 27–30, 2023

AUGUST

Seafair Weekend Festival Add to a List
Every year, Seafair—the iconic summer festival that started in 1950—puts on dozens of events throughout Seattle all summer long. It all wraps up in August with this three-day extravaganza of signature outdoor activities like Blue Angels air shows and hydroplane racing along the shores of Lake Washington. If you're into that, it's "the most anticipated event of the summer" and "an unofficial Puget Sound holiday." If not, you might want to get out of town for the weekend to avoid the noise and military spectacle that our sister site The Stranger has complained about for years. It's a conflict that's perhaps summed up best by The Stranger's Christopher Frizzelle: "...obviously I think it's ridiculous and wasteful to sonically terrify Seattle and Bellevue once a year just to show off gas-guzzling American might—USA! USA!—buuuut... I also have to admit that choreography people are forced to watch is a funny concept (not enough people appreciate choreography). And I also have to admit that, well, how do I put this? My family and I don't agree on some big-picture things. But we all agreed on that day in 1996 [when I first saw them] about the awesomeness (capable of inspiring awe) of the Blue Angels. And somewhere deep in my brain, I filed Seattle away as an okay place to be. It's probably an exaggeration to say I ended up moving here because of the Blue Angels, but it's not that much of an exaggeration."
August 4–6, 2023

The Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire Add to a List
August brings heat, summer malaise, and the annual Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire. This time-honored tradition beckons city folk to squeeze into tights and bustiers before making their way to the grassy plains of Bonney Lake's Kelley Farm, a land that, for a brief moment, becomes the English town of Merriwick. Over three weekends, Ren Faire-goers are living in a time where pirates, elves, and fairies delight and terrorize humans; turkey legs are the most delicious things on Earth; and men stake their egos on jousting. You can get lit off of mead at alehouses like your ancestors might've in the olden times and tip your hat at Queen Elizabeth herself, who'll grace Merriwick with her presence. There's also an artisan marketplace, where you can tipsily buy a necklace or a hat that you'll literally never wear again. Go drink and be merry and forget about the plagues afflicting our society for but a moment. JAS KEIMIG
August 5–20, 2023

Day In Day Out Festival
After this debut festival filled in for the currently dormant Bumbershoot over Labor Day weekend in 2021, Day In Day Out (DIDO) has been taking over Seattle Center for three days of live music from national and local artists during the dog days of summer. As Jas Keimig has written for The Stranger, "Festivalgoers can sprawl out in the late summer sun and listen to music that reminds them of being a freshman in college, a freshman in high school, or wherever they were ten years ago. Put on by Daydream State, the folks also behind Capitol Hill Block Party, DIDO wanted to make sure this fest had its own specific vibe distinct from Block Party. DIDO's lineup looks like it was specifically engineered to capture a particular kind of millennial indie nostalgia," with past headliners including Mitski, The National, and Japanese Breakfast. 
2023 Date TBD

SEPTEMBER

Washington State Fair Add to a List
Before the end of summer comes the beginning of the annual Washington State Fair in Puyallup, which brings family-friendly activities like rides and games, carnival food, free music and performances, baby animals, cultural events, produce contests, a rodeo, live concerts, and much more.
Sept 1–24, 2023

Fremont Oktoberfest Add to a List
Break out the lederhosen in celebration of "Seattle's largest beer festival," where you can taste over 100 German and domestic craft beers (excuse us, "biers") and feast on Bavarian-style food like Bratwurst and soft pretzels. You'll also find games like stein hoisting and "Texas chainsaw pumpkin carving," pups in costumes during the special Dogtoberfest day, and more throughout the streets of Fremont.
Sept 22–24, 2023

Leavenworth Oktoberfest Add to a List
"The next best thing to being in Munich" is, apparently, the Leavenworth Oktoberfest—which has now been moved to Wenatchee, but they've kept the name. Despite the Kevin Bacon-ness of that, this is still the most authentic celebration you're likely to find near Seattle, complete with official Oktoberfest brats, imported German beer and wine, live oompah and polka music, and performances from Bavarian dancing groups. They even have a full-on festhalle.
Sept 29–Oct 14, 2023

PAX West
The Stranger's resident nerd Matt Baume once wrote, "One of my very favorite things about living in Seattle— one of the things that convinced me to move here, in fact—is PAX, the giant video game convention held every Labor Day at the Convention Center, a sprawling throng of fandoms and beep-boop screens and clattering dice." The convention features dozens of panels with special guests, an exhibit hall, new game demonstrations, and video game-inspired musical performances. Tickets generally sell out extremely fast, but if you can't make it to the main event, there are always lots of fun affiliated parties going on around town.
2023 Date TBD (typically Labor Day weekend; likely Sept 1–4)

OCTOBER

Earshot Jazz Festival
An annual month-long examination and celebration of the art form, Earshot Jazz Festival generally includes over 50 concerts featuring acts both local and (inter)national, old and young. It's the best local opportunity you'll have to support the classic, vibrant genre—as The Stranger's Dave Segal wrote in an interview with the festival's executive director in 2016, "While some prognosticators see mostly diminishing returns for the art form since its mid-20th-century commercial and artistic heyday, he remains 'absolutely optimistic' about jazz's health."
2023 Date TBD

NOVEMBER

Short Run Comix & Arts Festival Add to a List
In 2018, Stranger editor Rich Smith wrote of Short Run: "You’re going. You’re bringing at LEAST $50 cash. You’re picking up new art books, zines, buttons, and little strips of beautiful screen-printed ephemera from internationally/nationally/locally-renowned comics creators." Challenge accepted! 
Sat Nov 4, 2023

Freakout Festival
Freakout's become a fall musical highlight for fans of psych rock, hip-hop, garage rock, soul, and electronic music. The main criteria for Freakout's bookers are simple: the acts have to excite them intensely and be charismatic onstage. Their main goal? To open people's minds to new and/or obscure musicians on the verge of breaking out, but they also respect history by bringing in legendary legacy acts. In this economic climate, respect is due to any festival that reaches the decade milestone. It's even more impressive when an event's organizers put quality and diversity ahead of profits. DAVE SEGAL
2023 Date TBD
(Typically the second weekend in November. There will also be a mini version, Freakout Weekender Add to a List , in March.)

DECEMBER

WildLanterns
As soon as Thanksgiving is over, Seattle is typically awash in brightly colored holiday light displays. One of the most well-known of these is Woodland Park Zoo's display, which recently changed from WildLights to WildLanterns, but remains enduringly popular nonetheless. Walk around the zoo after dark taking in giant animal and "nature scape" lanterns, each representing flora and fauna from around the globe. Dragonflies gleam from trees while bunnies, tigers, pandas, and orangutans light your path through the zoo—don't miss the Oceania Animal Odyssey, where you'll find glowing cuties from the Southern Hemisphere like koalas, parrots, and kangaroos. Whether or not you have kids, it's worth it.
2023 Date TBD (Likely Nov 24-January)

Christmas Ship Festival
Because nothing says PNW Christmas like a huge ship covered in twinkle lights, the Puget Sound gets even more sparkly as Argosy Cruises' Christmas Ship docks in waterfront communities along the Seattle shoreline. Those who pay to hop aboard can meet Santa and hear a community choir performance, or tag along behind the ship in a 21+ boat with rotating party themes. It's also free to watch from the shore, which we especially recommend doing during the Parade of Boats night.
2023 Date TBD

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