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Folklife Festival 2017

Once a year, the NW Folklife Festival enlivens the Seattle Center grounds for a 4-day, homespun, music-and-dance extravaganza, as you might know. Loosely defining the term “folk”, musicians from the Pacific Northwest and far beyond cover a wide spectrum of styles, from the individual singer trying out his/her newly-written song, to a seasoned blues band, a local Norwegian or Asian acoustic group, or an African a cappella choir from across the globe. Common threads connect all these: a celebration and immersion in different music/cultures and warm connection through music and other people.

Kiunka band.  Photo: C. Nelson

Twirl around a big dance floor with 80 other people, try a variety of eats at the food trucks (or bring your own lunch if you’re “line-averse”), look at or buy art, inspect a new guitar crafted by a local vendor, raise your voice in a sea chantey sing-along, or just hang out on the grass. There’s street musicians (buskers) in addition to the over 5,000 performers on stages situated throughout the Seattle Center grounds. And a fun option, for those guests who are musicians themselves (especially traditional songs like “You are my Sunshine”), is to bring your own acoustic instrument or harmonize along with one of the little, impromptu song circles that spring up here and there.

Photo: NW Folklife

This Pacific Northwest gem has been around for 46 years. They are non-profit with many volunteer coordinators that strongly believe everyone, no matter their financial status, should be able to attend this event. But the continuation of this festival in the future will depend upon whether enough attendees are able to make a donation at the gate this year or as a “Friend of Folklife”. $10 for a full day’s entertainment is the suggested donation.

Left: Owuor Arung.  Photo: Piper Hanson.         Right: Mexicans of WA.  Photo: Piper Hanson

Folklife dancing in the pavilion
Photo: Alan Berner/The Seattle Times

Come enjoy the festival on Memorial Day weekend, Friday May 26th through Monday, May 29th.  Check out their website here to find a schedule of daily events to choose from.