Northwest Folklife is the largest FREE festival in the US! Join in over Memorial Day weekend, May 25-28, as Seattle Center becomes a festival of Northwest music, culture and art!

The Northwest Folklife Festival has become a tradition for families for good reason. There are plenty of family-friendly showcases like the wildly popular Kindiependent Show, as well as family dances, storytelling for children, and hands-on activities like the Dusty Strings “instrument petting zoo” and the Rhythm Tent.

The Kindiependent Showcase, presented by ParentMap on Monday, starts on Monday, May 28 from 11:00am – 3:30pm on the Fountain Lawn, featuring the loveable all-ages indie rock of Caspar Babypants, The Board of Education, Recess Monkey, The Not Its!, The Harmonica Pocket, and Johnny Bregar.

More international all-ages acts include Snail People on Saturday, May 26 at 2:30pm on the Alki Court Stage, part of the Living Green Show; Professor Banjo in the Folklife Café on Friday at 5:10 PM; Sean Connor’s Irish music for kids on Saturday at 1:25pm in the Folklife Café; and KlezKids—Jewish Klezmer music in the Bagley Wright Theatre on Monday, May 28 at 11:30am.

Chances to dance abound: There will be a Family Dance with Stuart Williams and His Sprouts on Sunday, May 27 at 1:00pm in the Center House Court; a Family Dance Workshop with the Carroll Family Band on Saturday, May 26 at 11:00am in the Rainier Room; and a Family Dance with Dina Blade & the Canotes on Monday, May 28 at 11:00am on the Vera Stage.

Interactive kid-friendly events include Family Stories in the Center House Theatre on Sunday, May 27 from 11:00am – 1:00pm; and sing-a-longs like Songs & Lore of the Sea, part of the Kids Sing Too! showcase on Saturday from 1:00–4:00PM in the Intiman Choral Courtyard.

Participatory workshops include Singing Games for Kids with Amy Carroll on Sunday at 11:00am in the Olympic Room; Seattle Kids’ Morris dancing on Sunday at 1:00pm on the McCaw Promenade.

Folklife also presents hands-on activity booths where kids can try out playing all kinds of music. Fremont music shop Dusty Strings will host an “instrument petting zoo” where children can experience what it’s like to play traditional instruments such as the harp, hammered dulcimer, ukulele, banjo, or mandolin. At the Rhythm Tent, families watch drumming demonstrations and participate in several percussion workshops. Well-known drum circle leaders will provide family-friendly instruction.

While at Seattle Center, families are welcome to visit the many attractions presented by The Next Fifty, which coincides with the Northwest Folklife Festival. The fully-enclosed Next Fifty Activity Tent will host interactive exhibits, including The Next Fifty Experience. The Next Fifty’s programming will be focused on sustainability, so the Activity Tent events all have elements of working with recycled materials and living green. Free hands-on activities include building a wooden boat with the Center for Wooden Boats; creating a 100 foot “dragon float” out of plastic bottles with the Fremont Arts Council; or building a boat out of milk cartons to race at the Denny’s Seafair Milk Carton Derby. Families can also make and take home a Pop-Up Puppet with Planet of the Puppets for a $3.00 materials fee.

Festivalgoers may also take advantage of the attractions at the Seattle Center Playway produced by the Center as part of its Next Fifty activities. The fun includes a zip line and mechanical and inflatable rides. Tickets for the Seattle Center Playway are $12.00/person for an unlimited day pass for all rides except the zip line; and $19.00/person for an unlimited day pass that includes the zip line. Individual tickets are available, too, with prices ranging from $1.25 to $7.50 per person.

For more on the 41st annual Northwest Folklife, visit


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