Bumbershoot Festival at Seattle Center (©Christopher Nelson)
Starting Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend (with a few dates beyond), Seattle comes alive. Our warm temperatures and sunny days mean locals want to be outside as much as possible. Restaurant patios are stuffed; trails and beaches are swarming with families; and, people across the city gather for concerts outside. Here, a massive list of some spots to relax to music while getting some vitamin D. Just make sure to bring your sunblock!
Sasquatch Music Festival
Located 150 miles from Seattle, The Gorge is an amazing outdoor venue overlooking the Columbia River. The site is all-festival-seating, so pack a blanket or low-slung chairs. The weather at The Gorge, meanwhile, can be unpredictable—best bets include layers, rain gear and plenty of sunblock. Because of the distance from Seattle, most attendees stay overnight. Camping is available on-site; otherwise your best bet is to book a hotel room in either Ellensburg, Wash., or Moses Lake, Wash. Make sure to book in advance! Camping often sells out, and many hotels also fill to capacity Memorial Day weekend.
The 2015 lineup includes Modest Mouse, Sleater-Kinney, Of Monsters and Men, The Decemberists, St. Vincent, Ryan Adams, Robert Plant, Kendrick Lemar, Lana Del Rey, Spoon, The New Pornographers, Gogol Bordello, Father John Misty, The Maldives, Black Whales, Cataldo and many more.
Happening May 22-25.
Closer to the city—at Seattle Center, in fact—Northwest Folklife spans Memorial Day weekend with live music, dancing, family-friendly activities and more. The free festival features more than 5,000 performers from more than 65 different cultural communities.
Events take place across Seattle Center, including at the Center Theatre, the Exhibition Hall, Fisher Pavilion, SIFF Film Center, the Vera Project and multiple outdoor stages. Grab a schedule (or peruse it online) to map out your day—but allow some time to just wander. With a festival this large, you never know what you’ll come across.
Head to the Discovery Zone with the littles, where you’ll find a space for children to experiment with instruments, including an electric guitar and snare drum; build a toy boat; make a mosaic tile with recycled art glass; learn how to break dance or try Brazilian dancing; and listen to a variety of family-friendly performers, including the Hot Cider String Band, Canote Brothers and Mikey Gervais.
The 2015 lineup includes Oly Mountain Boys, Lonesome Shack, YVES, Bleachbear, Ryegrass, Buckshot, Spencer Carlson, Melville, OK Sweetheart, Pourquoi Pas (Why Not!), COHO, Ravenna Woods and plenty more.
Happening May 22-25.
Summer Concerts at the Locks
Ballard’s Hiram M. Chittenden Locks are busy with more than just boat traffic during Seattle’s summer. Saturdays and Sundays, a lineup of various musical acts play free concerts. Take a seat on the lush lawn near the locks and relax with show tunes, jazz, big band music, chamber orchestras and more. Most concerts begin at 2 pm.
Highlights for 2015 include the Cascadia Contemporary Big Band on June 7, the Elliott Bay Pipe Band June 21, Puget Sound Symphony Chamber Players July 11, The Tempos Aug. 2 and Microsoft Jumpin Jive Orchestra Aug. 23.
Happening May 31-Sept. 7.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Summer Concerts
Since 1984, Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, Wash., has been hosting some of the best artists in jazz, rock, blues and contemporary music. The amphitheater includes reserved seating and general-admission, festival-style tickets. Wine is available (of course!), as are food vendors. These concerts often sell out, so buy your tickets early!
This year, highlights include Smash Mouth, Toad the Wet Sprocket and Tonic June 19; Chicago June 20; Sheryl Crow July 8; Michael Franti & Spearhead Aug. 22; Chris Isaak Aug. 23 and Pink Martini Sept. 4 and Sept. 5.
Happening June 13-Sept. 12.
Marymoor Park Concerts
Redmond’s Marymoor Park is home to a beautiful natural amphitheater that comes alive each summer with numerous concerts. Each show offers both reserved seats and general admission (lawn seating). There are also food vendors on site, including some of the area’s favorite food trucks.
If you opt for general admission, bring a blanket or beach chair (the back must be less than 28-inches high). Empty non-glass water bottles are allowed in, as are small coolers. If it is raining, umbrellas are allowed, as these events happen rain or shine. Parking at Marymoor is $5, cash only, for the concert.
The lineup this year includes David Gray and Amos Lee, Willie Nelson and Family with Alison Krauss and Union Station, The Decemberists, Third Eye Blind and Dashboard Confessional, Barenaked Ladies, Alabama Shakes, Wlico, Peter Frampton, Cheap Trick and more.
Happening June 14-Sept. 19.
Seattle Peace Concerts
These free concerts are on Sundays, beginning at noon. The all-volunteer group asks for food-bank donations, and a donation bucket is passed around during performances. Happening at parks around town, each concert includes multiple acts. Started in the early ’80s, these concerts are non-political and non-religious in nature, going by the slogan “Peace Through Music.”
2015 concerts include Movin’ Mountains, Emerald Fire, Whiskers & Honey, Linda Lee and the Wildcats, and Branden Daniel and the Chics at Gas Works Park June 28; Two Sided Trio, Cosmo’s Dream, Plush and Second Hand Newz at Volunteer Park July 26; Ricky Gene Powell & Celebration Arts Foundation, Legendary Tiny Giants, Acoustic Laboratory and Woodland at the Lower Woodland Park Shelter 1 on Aug. 9 and more.
Happening June 14-Sept. 20.
Fremont Solstice Fair
This massive neighborhood celebration is always held the weekend nearest the summer solstice. Spanning three days, find music, great food, an arts and crafts fair, and a parade right in the heart of the Fremont neighborhood.
On Saturday, the parade traditionally begins with the naked-but-painted Solstice Cyclists, where more than 1,500 cyclists take over the parade route in creative costumes made mostly from body paint. They are followed by parade floats, marching bands and street performers. The parade ends at Gas Works Park, where you can watch street music from Honk! Fest West, munch on bites from food trucks and watch four stages of performances.
The Solstice Music Festival is a ticketed event, with lineups both Friday and Saturday evenings. This year, see performances from Deltron 3030, Ra Scion, Ayo Dot & the Uppercuts, Fox and the Law, Ayron Jones and the Way, and The Presidents of the United States of America.
Happening June 19-21.
Bring a blanket and a picnic, and relax on the lawn while listening to some of the country’s top musical acts. The events are family-friendly, with the zoo’s historic carousel available for rides during the event, as well as space for kids to dance around. The best part? A paid ticket gets one child under 12 in for free. (Make sure to add child tickets to your online order.)
Be aware that no outside alcohol is allowed in, and no chairs more than 24 inches high can be used, nor can umbrellas (unless there's downpour). Tickets are general admission, so come early to pick the best spot.
The ZooTunes concerts are a fundraiser for the zoo and support animal care, zoo maintenance and upkeep, and education programs as well as conservation programs to preserve endangered species in the state and around the world.
The 2015 lineup includes The Doobie Brothers, The B-52s, Indigo Girls, Melissa Etheridge and Blondie, Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers, Sweet Harmony Soul (Mavis Staples, Patty Griffin and Amy Helm), Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Ziggy Marley, Trampled By Turtles and The Devil Makes Three, and Kenny Loggins.
Happening June 19-Aug. 19.
Head to The Gorge Amphitheatre for the Paradiso Festival, a two-day extravaganza of music, theatrical performers, amusement park rides, acrobats, art installations and more. Camping at The Gorge is available.
This year, the lineup includes Armin Van Buuren, Kinfe Party, Martin Garrix, Dash Berlin, Alesso and Skrillex.
Happening June 26-27.
Sounds of Summer Concert Series
At University Village this summer, find shopping, dining and, on Wednesdays, free concerts! These family-friendly affairs begin at 6:30 pm and feature both local favorites and well-known artists. There will also be gourmet bites, a beer garden and activities for children in the kids play area.
This year’s lineup includes The Maldives, Eldridge Gravy & The Court Supreme, The Nowhere Men, Hit Explosion, The Paperboys, The Dust 45s, and a family night with Recess Monkey and Caspar Babypants.
Happening July 8-Aug. 19.
Out to Lunch Concert Series
While exploring the city during your time in Seattle, enjoy free outdoor music this summer: July through the beginning of September, a variety of artists will be playing around town many Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
The 2015 series kicks off Thursday, July 9, with the Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra playing at City Hall Plaza, 600 Fourth Ave. Other highlights include The Maldives July 10 at Westlake Park, 401 Pine St.; Tubaluba July 17 at Occidental Square, Occidental Ave. S and S. Main St.; The Dusty 45s Aug. 14 at Harbor Steps, 1221 First Ave. and Eldridge Gravy & The Court Supreme at Lake Union Park, 860 Terry Ave. N.
All concerts start at noon. Bring a picnic lunch and a blanket, and enjoy Seattle’s beautiful summer weather and some great music. The full lineup will be posted on the downtown Seattle website in a few weeks.
Happening July 9-Sept. 4.
West Seattle Summer Fest
Seattle’s West Seattle neighborhood has one of the best summer celebrations around. In addition to kids activities, food and shopping, there’s a great lineup of music each year—and the three-day festival is free!
This year’s highlights include La Luz, Navvi, Black Whales, Kithkin, The Cave Singers and Memphis Radio Kings. Music begins in the afternoon and goes until 9:30 pm Friday and Saturday evenings, 4 pm on Sunday.
Happening July 10-12.
Timber! Outdoor Music Festival
Head to the woods of Carnation, Wash., for this music fest and outdoor adventure. The three-day festival includes plenty of music, nature hikes, kayaking, children’s activities, a 5k run/walk, mountain biking, stand-up paddleboarding, geocaching, bubble football, stargazing and more. Come for just a day or camp overnight and attend all three days of the festival.
This year the lineup includes David Bazan, La Luz, Beat Connection, Shaprece, Alela Diane, Tacocat, The Dead Milkmen, Lonesome Shack, Naked Giants, Tom Eddy, Gibraltar and more, plus special children’s concerts from Recess Monkey and Eli Rosenblatt.
Happening July 16-18.
Capitol Hill Block Party
Party on the Hill at this annual event, happening in July. Featuring some of the best indie music in the country, the three-day festival has multiple stages taking over six city blocks in Capitol Hill. This festival often sells out, so buy your tickets early. Two stages are outdoors, and there are three indoor venues. The festival also encompasses dozens of restaurants and bars.
The 2015 lineup includes TV on the Radio, The Kills, Built to Spill, Toro Y Moi, Shabazz Palaces, Chastity Belt and more to be announced. The schedule is released in June, and single-day tickets are available, as well as three-day passes.
Happening July 24-26.
Darrington, Wash., is home to this four-day festival, “where the music meets the mountain.” Held at the Whitehorse Mountain Amphitheater, about 90 minutes northeast of Seattle, the festival takes place in beautiful surroundings. Camping is available, and be aware that the weather in Darrington can be unpredictable, ranging from highs of 100 degrees during the day to much colder at night—bring layers and be prepared for possible rain.
This is a family-friendly event, with a kids area that includes special activities for the smallest festival goers, including outdoor games, snow cones, fairy home building, scavenger hunts, derby cars and more.
The 2015 lineup includes STS9, Iration, Tycho, Galactic, Greensky Bluegrass, Minnesota, Yppah, Flowmotion, Cedar Teeth, Polecat, Tubaluba, Heels to the Hardwood and many more.
Happening Aug. 6-9.
Close out the summer over Labor Day Weekend with Bumbershoot, Seattle’s beloved summer music and arts festival. It takes over the Seattle Center grounds with music, art, comedy, film and much more. There are multiple stages as well as indoor venues—plan on outlining your day, but don’t set it in stone! With a huge mix of local, national and international acts, there are always new bands to discover.
This very family-friendly festival includes Youngershoot: musical acts, activities, art and adventures appropriate for children 10 and younger. There is also a Youngershoot Kids Zone, curated by the Seattle Children’s Museum, that is only accessible to children 10 and younger and their guardians.
Among this year’s stellar lineup is Babes in Toyland, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Cake, The Airborne Toxic Event, Lindsey Stirling, Faith No More, Neko Case, Social Distortion, The Cave Singers, Hey Marseilles, Brandon Glowers, Hozier, Devotchka, Ellie Goulding, Minus the Bear and more.
Happening Sept. 5-7.