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The Best Festivals in Seattle: Spring 2019 – Things to Do – TheStranger.com

Frolic through fields of colorful flowers at Skagit Valley’s annual Tulip Festival this April. Jessica Stein

Below, we’ve rounded up the biggest and best festivals you need to know about this season, whether you want to experience seasonal traditions from other countries, drink beer, take in live music in the great outdoors, or geek out over anime and sci-fi. You can also find a complete list of film events in Seattle this spring on our Things To Do calendar, or check out the rest of our critics’ picks from Seattle Art and Performance.

Found something you like and don’t want to forget about it later? Click “Save Event” on any of the linked events below to add it to your own private list.


Seasonal


April 1–30

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival After the long, hard, and—this year—snow-filled-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. 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. KATIE HERZOG (Skagit Valley, free)

April 6–May 6

Daffodil Festival Pierce County’s daffodil farmers have dwindled over time, according to organizers, but it’s still fertile ground for the yellow perennial flowers that’ve had their own festival in the area since 1934. The event boasts four parades, but the highlight is its grand parade (Sat April 6), where the festival’s royal court (made up of 23 “princesses” from Pierce County high schools) sail down the street on daffodil-covered floats. (Various locations in Pierce County, free)

April 11–14

Puyallup Spring Fair Welcome springtime by riding roller coasters, playing carnival games, watching pig races, taking in free music and comedy shows, seeing monster trucks in Motorsport Mayhem races, and more. There’s also a “Fun on the Farm” area where kids can pet baby animals and learn about agriculture. (Washington State Fair Events Center, $10/$12)

Sat May 4

Seattle Yacht Club Opening Day On the first Saturday of May for almost a century, hundreds of recreational boats have paraded from Portage Bay through the Montlake Cut for the club’s Opening Day to celebrate the official opening of Seattle’s boating season. Adorned vessels boast live bands and giant floats—this year’s theme is “Boating Through the Decades.” (Seattle Yacht Club, free)

June 6–9

Vashon Sheepdog Classic This annual herding extravaganza—which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2019—is a good excuse to take the ferry to Vashon Island, and also a good excuse to watch athletic sheepdogs chase livestock around a field. Also on tap: local fare, a fiber arts village, bagpipe performances, a shearing demo, and more. (Misty Isle Farms, $15/$25)


Music


Sat April 6

Kaleidoscope Ballard Get a little woozy at this new music and art fest that will feature live sets by Fruit Juice, Wild Powwers, SHARK LEGS, Peyote Ugly, Sea Salt, b r a c k e t s, the Whags, and FROND, all accompanied by a Space Pyramid-made “analog light experience” for some extra sensory overload. (Salmon Bay Eagles, 5 pm—12 am, $17/$20)

Sat April 13

Third Annual BeatMatch Multi-talented musician Chong the Nomad participated in last year’s BeatMatch, and now look at her—she’s played the Capitol Hill Block Party, graced the cover of The Stranger, and been featured in an ad for Universal Audio. This bracketed tournament pits 16 local electronic-music producers flaunting their most exceptional rhythms and melodies before judges and a live audience. They’ll be competing for a cash prize and a slot at the 2019 Block Party. Witness up-and-coming beatmakers hungrily bust out their finest joints before they blow up. DAVE SEGAL (Crocodile, 8 pm, $10)

May 16–18

Fisherman’s Village Music Festival Celebrate the efforts of the Everett Music Initiative with this weekend festival now in its sixth year, spread over several beloved local venues, with live sets from local and touring talents. (Downtown Everett, 6 pm, $69)

May 24–26

End of the Rainbow Festival The previously unnamed Memorial Day weekend festival that replaces Sasquatch has officially been dubbed End of the Rainbow. Bassnectar plays two sets over the weekend, and will be joined by other big names like Lil Uzi Vert, Young Thug, Griz, Santigold, STS9, Gogol Bordello, Flosstramadus, Tom Morello, Vic Mensa, and many more. (Gorge Amphitheatre, $199/$399)


Food & Drink


Sat March 23

20th Annual Washington Cask Beer Festival Lester Black calls cask ale “the most underappreciated beer style in Seattle,” noting that its “mellow carbonation, smooth flavor, and not-quite-cold serving temperature perfectly complement never-ending rainy days.” Try it for yourself at this festival featuring cask-conditioned beers from more than 40 different Washington breweries. (Seattle Center Exhibition Hall, 12—9:30 pm, $40)

March 28–31

Taste Washington Immerse yourself in four days of pure oenophilia with “the nation’s largest single-region wine and food” event, which unites more than 225 Washington wineries, 65 top restaurants, and a number of acclaimed local and national chefs. (Various locations, $50—$640)

Sat March 30

Georgetown Bites Known for being Seattle’s oldest neighborhood, gritty, industrial Georgetown is quietly becoming a culinary destination, with a high concentration of underrated under-the-radar gems. At this annual spring food walk, you can scoop up offerings from a variety of area vendors. (Various locations, 11 am—4 pm)

March 30–31

Vegfest Dedicated to all things herbivorous and featuring vegetarian food samples, chef demos, nutrition info, free health screenings, books and cookbooks, and a kids’ area with clowns and games. (Seattle Center Exhibition Hall, 10 am—6 pm, $12)

Sat April 6

Edible Book Festival View (and then devour) tasty tomes on display at this festival devoted to punny “books” made out of food and inspired by famous literary titles—past winners have included Donkey Oaties and A Pringle In Time. (Town Center at Lake Forest Park, 11 am—1:30 pm)

April 19–20

Seattle Scotch & Beer Fest Touted as “the region’s biggest spring beer festival combining craft beer, Scotch, whiskey, and wine tasting,” this two-day event showcases authentic Scotch and Irish whiskey with tastings, seminars, and craft beers from West Coast brewers. (Fremont Studios, $20—$55)

Sat April 20

Seattle Cheese and Meat Festival This food fest is happening on 4/20, which is either a happy coincidence or telling you something about its organizers. Cured meat. Fromage. You get a charcuterie board and glass upon entry, and more than 50 vendors offer tastes and sips (wine, cider, beer, spirits, and kombucha included). Take a puff somewhere discreet, then spend the afternoon eating your heart out. LEILANI POLK (Block 41, 11 am—6 pm, $35—$145)

Sat May 4

Seattle Bacon and Beer Classic At this festival, munch on unlimited salty, crunchy pork from more than 30 local chefs and sip crisp brews and ciders from over 100 regional breweries. Plus, participate in a blind beer taste test, a bacon-eating contest, and activities like giant Jenga and pretzel necklace making. (T-Mobile Park, 12—10 pm, $65—$115)

May 9–19

Seattle Beer Week Seattle’s craft beer scene is always bubbling with activity, but during Beer Week, the geeky enthusiasm kicks into high gear with a stacked lineup of beer dinners, fests, socials, pub crawls, and releases galore. Past festivities have included beer and doughnut pairings, a beer-can derby, and whole pig roasts. (Various locations)

Sat May 18

Green Lake Food Walk Explore the culinary bounties of Green Lake at this annual food walk. Local eateries will be offering special menus, and you can stop by as many as you like. There will also be a beer garden with live music. (Various locations, 12:30—4:30 pm, $15)

Sun May 19

Lamb Jam Seattle Using meat from family-owned farms in Washington State, 16 chefs concoct lamb dishes inspired by various cuisines around the world in a carnivorous competition (and you get to taste the results). Regional wineries and breweries will also be on-site offering their tipples. (Seattle Design Center, 2—6 pm, $75/$125)


Arts & Performance


April 5–6

UW Maker Summit At this annual summit, it’s possible that you could be featured in the lineup. Submit an art project (be it a drawing, painting, or ceramic, glass, or fabric piece), your handmade electronic gizmo, or your short film or music video. You can also perform in an open mic or present your research in a presentation. Or you can just attend and enjoy the fruits of local talent. (UW Campus, free)

April 5–7

Orcas Island Lit Fest A boon to anyone who loves both literature and gorgeous island landscapes. Last year, you could attend a lit crawl with major authors, generate some masterpieces of your own at workshops, and chime in on panel discussions, as well as meet regional authors, poets, and publishers. (Orcas Center, $65)

April 11–14

Vashon Lit Con Exult in the local literary scene at this new festival, featuring a lit crawl, a mini-con for children and teens, performances, and more. (Vashon Center for the Arts)

April 12–14

Yoni Ki Baat Watch South Asian performers present this take on The Vagina Monologues, an annual event that is directed by Jaya Ramesh in 2019. The event is inclusive and acknowledges the complexity of gender. (Seattle Art Museum, $25)

April 19–21

Bibliophilia Storytelling Festival This short festival presented by Word Lit Zine will celebrate the way words can come alive on stage. Look forward to readings and performances by excellent local talents, including authors, improvisers, and others. (Hugo House, 7 pm, $12—$45)

April 26–28

Seattle Erotic Art Festival See the galleries of visual and interactive art, draw sensually posed models, hear sexy readings, compete in some contests, gasp at the contortions of pole dancers and other acrobats, and more at the 17th annual event presented by the Foundation for Sex-Positive Culture. (Seattle Center Exhibition Hall, $12—$350)

Wed May 1

Cephalopod Appreciation Society Exult in your love of cuttlefish, octopuses, squid, nautiluses, and other squishy intelligences with dancers, musicians, artists, and other cephalopod-lovers at this festival founded by poet Sierra Nelson. (Hugo House, free)

May 3–4

Crosscut Festival Local news site Crosscut presents two days of timely conversations with journalists, authors, and politicians. This year’s guests include Valerie Jarrett (one-time senior adviser for President Barack Obama), former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas, Pod Save the People host DeRay McKesson, Washington Post investigative reporter Emma Brown, and others. (Seattle University, $20—$250)


Culture


Sat March 23

Holi Festival of Color This traditional Hindu spring fest welcomes the new season and the triumph of good over evil with a “color fight.” Wear a white T-shirt and prepare to get covered in colored powders. (Phinney Center Blue Building, 1—3 pm, $10/$12)

April 26–28

Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival In appreciation of the 1,000 cherry trees gifted to Seattle by Prime Minister Takeo Miki 40 years ago, the annual fest is a celebration of Japanese culture. It’s the oldest in the Seattle Center Festál series, featuring live performances, Taiko drumming and artisan demonstrations, food, and more. (Seattle Center, free)

Sat May 4

Cinco de Mayo Celebration Celebrate the richness of Mexican American culture (and the Mexican Army’s victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862) with food and activities. (El Centro de la Raza, 11 am—6 pm, free)

Sun May 5

A Glimpse of China Discover 5,000-year-old Chinese cultural traditions, learn Chinese folk dances, and make art. (Seattle Center, free)

Fri May 24

Seattle’s French Fest France isn’t the only country that speaks French—this festival celebrates the cultures of the places around the world where the language is spoken, from Senegal to Belgium to Canada (and yes, Paris). (Seattle Center Armory, free)

May 24–27

Northwest Folklife Festival The goal of Folklife is noble as heck: “We envision strong communities, united by arts and culture… When people share aspects of their culture, opportunities are created to dissolve misunderstandings, break down stereotypes, and increase respect for one another.” What does this translate to? A gigantic Memorial Day weekend hippie fest full of lovely people dancing, performing world music from “yodeling to beatboxing” and everything in between, serving tasty street food, and leading workshops in arts and crafts. It’s a great, if potentially overwhelming, people-watching experience, plus a great way to see local music. The 2019 spotlight is “Youth Rising.” (Seattle Center, free)

June 1–2

Pagdiriwang Philippine Festival This Seattle tradition includes a series of workshops, exhibits, demonstrations, and performances that highlight Filipino history, art, and culture, as well as the 120th anniversary of Philippine independence. (Seattle Center, free)

Sat June 8

Indigenous People Festival A celebration of Native American cultures, with a focus on music, dance, and crafts. Special events this year include a Native canoe exhibit, free health screenings, and an art walk. (Seattle Center, 11 am—5 pm, free)


Geek


April 19–21

Sakura-Con For one weekend, see life through an anime lens as cosplayers gather again for the Northwest’s “oldest and most well-attended” convention devoted to the art, presented by the Asia Northwest Cultural Education Association. It’s a members-only festival, but once you’re a member, everything else is free—contests, panels, “cosplay chess,” gaming, the Kawaii vs. Kowai Dance Party, artist meet-and-greets, and more. (Washington State Convention & Trade Center, $70/$80)

May 3–5

Crypticon Crypticon draws hundreds of area gorehounds, bloodsluts, zombbros, and creepazoids. Dress up and enter the cosplay contest, compete in the writing and horror makeup competitions, browse haunted Cthulhu/zombie/vampire/etc. goods, and party on the 13th floor. (DoubleTree Hotel, $20—$310)

May 18–19

Minefaire Minecraft players can get meet YouTube gaming celebs, compete in tourneys and costume contests, witness live stage shows, and more at this geeky extravaganza dedicated to the extremely popular video game. (CenturyLink Field Event Center, 10 am—5 pm, $32—$92)


Community


May 18–19

University District Streetfair The iconic street fair will return for its 50th year, filling the Ave with food, shopping, crafts, and music. (University District, 10 am, free)

Wanderlust Festival This two-day fest is all about wellness, both mental and physical, and features everything from yoga sessions to hula hoop fitness to silent discos. (Marymoor Park, $246)