In:Site Staff Reporter
Photos by Sarah Jenks
The Pacific Northwest is recognized as having some of the most heavenly summers in the world. It’s a good thing, too, considering the eight-plus months of dreariness that local inhabitants dutifully endure.
When June comes around though, and the mercury reliably rests somewhere above 70 for consecutive weeks, it makes it all worth it.
The mountains, forests, deserts and coast that define our state are an amazing microcosm of the planet and draw thousands of outdoor-enthusiasts to share in the fun. But the human-planned playgrounds that take place during our fairest season are certainly just as exciting, if you know where to find them.
The Sasquatch Music Festival–a hugely popular indie-rock/alternative/hip hop music festival held in Central Washington–already kicked off summer over Memorial-Day Weekend. Here is a list of some of the other fun festivals our area has to offer, including some all-time favorites, as well as lesser-known events:
Fremont Fair (June 20-21)
The Fremont Fair coincides with the official beginning of summer. This year, for the 20th time, the event will begin with the extravagant Fremont Solstice Parade. The parade includes fantastic floats, dancers, musicians and, of course, the infamous throng of nude bicyclist who inexplicably, and yet somehow appropriately, symbolize the event.
From there, the fair proceeds with all-day live music, an ample variety of delicious foods and what organizers describe as “Seattle’s largest crafts marketplace.”
Despite all the “fun and games,” the event is more than just that. “The Fremont Fair is a fundraiser for Solid Ground, a local non-profit, which is dedicated to achieving a just and caring community free from poverty, prejudice and neglect,” said Festival Director Oliver Little.
To find out more: http://www.fremontfair.org/
Seafair (June 27-August 2)
Originally launched in 1950 to celebrate Seattle’s maritime sensibility, Seafair is the granddaddy of Seattle’s summer festivals.
The event’s Director of Public Relations Dan Wartelle: “Seafair is very excited to celebrate its 60th year this year, and we continue to provide a host of opportunities for people in the Northwest to have fun.”
Over the years, Seafair has gradually grown to incorporate more than a dozen significant events, including but not limited to:
- A milk-carton derby at Green Lake (July 11)
- A marathon and a triathlon
- A downtown torch-light parade (July 25)
- And of course the legendary hydroplane races and fighter-jet air show that take place on and above Lake Washington (July 31-August 2)
The description would not be complete without mention of the Seafair Pirates. This rude, crude and unscrupulous band of volunteer actors thrill kids and adults alike with their fierce antics.
To find out more: http://seafair.com/
Redmond Derby Days (July 11)
It might come as a surprise that the country’s longest-running bicycle race takes place right here in King County, but in fact it does. The event originated at the end of the Great Depression as a means of paying for downtown holiday-decorations, and it’s been going strong since. Redmond Derby Days — a bit of a misnomer as it in fact spans only one day – includes a parade as well as a large collection of street vendors who offers cool crafts and delicious food.
To find out more: http://www.redmond.gov/recreationarts/derbydays/
Strawberry Festival (July 17-19)
In the summer of 1909, Vashon Island put together its first ever Strawberry Festival to honor the berry that at that time was a major factor in its economy. One hundred years later, the gorgeous island still holds the festivities. Now, in addition to strawberry-soaked pancakes, the festival boasts a “grand” parade, a beer garden, wine and jazz, a classic-car show, 175 street vendors and much more.
To find out more: http://www.vashonchamber.com/strawberry_fest.htm
Skagit Valley Highland Games (July 11-12)
For those of you with insuppressible Celtic DNA, the Skagit Valley Highland Games take place in Mount Vernon, roughly an hour’s drive north of Seattle. The games include Scottish favorites like bagpipe playing, sheepdog trials, folk-dancing, scotch-tasting and feats of strength competitions. Organizers say the event draws about 10,000 people each year.
To find out more: http://www.celticarts.org/index.php?page_id=32
Seattle International Beer Festival (July 3-5)
Billed as “the ultimate world-beer experience,” there is perhaps no greater occasion for local beer-aficionados than the SIB. Held at Seattle Center, jubilant participants fill a grassy area that is surrounded on all sides by booths offering all styles of the world’s favorite brews. They call it the “Grande Beer Garden,” and it is indeed so grand that its adjective requires an extra vowel for emphasis. Live music and tasty snacks round out this midsummer night’s dream of a festival.
To find out more: http://www.seattlebeerfest.com/Index2%20SIB.htm
Bumbershoot (September 5-7)
Perhaps needing no introduction, Seattle’s premiere music festival helps to end the summer each year with a bang. Although the price for admission is higher than in years past (now $35 for single-day, $80 for weekend), Bumbershoot rarely disappoints. In its 39th year, the festival annually attracts some of music’s hottest artists, and now even integrates acts in film, comedy, spoken word, theatre and visual arts. Beloved by thousands, it’s not “North America’s largest urban arts festival” for nothing.
This year’s act lineup looks very promising as usual. Industry superstars Sheryl Crow and Modest Mouse will be there, as well as admitted girl-kisser Katy Perry, under-the-radar hip-hop trio De La Soul and little-known but highly talented folk-crooner Brett Dennen.
To find out more: http://www.bumbershoot.com/
For a map of the events, check out: http://www.zeemaps.com/122503