By Anne Taylor Hartzell, on August 11, 2015

The best cultural festivals in Seattle

Want to explore other cultures and food, but don’t have the time or money to travel abroad this summer? Consider exploring your own backyard for cultural festivals, events, and neighborhood celebrations. In addition to the fantastic weather, one of my favorite parts of sticking around Seattle during the summer is all of the great festivals in the Puget Sound region. Attending cultural festivals in your hometown is an easy way to get a taste of another country or region’s food, music, people, and customs. 

Here are just a few of the fun cultural festivals happening in my hometown of Seattle in 2015:

Seattle Center’s “Festál”

Festál at Seattle Center is a partnership between Seattle Center and local ethnic community organizations to celebrate the rich cultural diversity of the Pacific Northwest. With BrasilFest and Tibet Fest in August, the Italian Festival in September, and much more, Seattle Center’s family-friendly Festál calendar offers a celebration for just about every region of the world. For example, at BrasilFest you can watch performances of traditional Brazilian dance and martial arts, marvel at the glittering costumes, sample authentic Brazilian food, and enjoy cultural crafts and demonstrations.


Visit Seattle’s Cultural Heritage Guide

For a different cultural experience, consider exploring your city’s cultural roots away from the crowds. Local visitors bureaus are a great resource for finding cultural events and itineraries in your own backyard. Visit Seattle’s Cultural Heritage Guide offers a host of fun ideas for exploring the rich diversity of Seattle’s residents.

Guides for Native-American, Asian-American, and Nordic heritage in the Northwest allow you to learn how other cultures have made Seattle the rich cultural melting pot it is today as well as find points of interest around the city to plan a day trip exploring. For example, if you are interested in learning more about the Nordic history of Seattle, the Swedish Cultural Center—the center for Scandinavian activities in the Pacific Northwest—hosts regular events and classes for members and non-members. Sign up for a Swedish language class to “Speak like a Swede,” or sample traditional Swedish meatballs and pastries at the Kafé on Fridays.

Viewfinder Tip: Check your local newspaper or visitors bureau for local cultural event calendars.

Local Seattle neighborhood festivals

Neighborhoods can also be hidden gems for celebrating other cultures and customs. In July, Ballard SeafoodFest celebrates the neighborhood’s deep connection to the fishing industry and its Nordic roots. In October, Fremont plays host to its own Oktoberfest celebration and attracts visitors from all around the state to celebrate, taste beer, and even run a 5K. In 2015, Fremont Oktoberfest will host a family day on the first Sunday with games, music, and more for the whole family.

So even if your international travel plans have been grounded, there are still ample places in your own city to celebrate and learn about other cultures. 

What are your favorite festivals in your hometown?

Photo credit: Fremont Chamber of Commerce//Patrick Lawrence Wright//

“Visit Seattle” image from