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NW Folklife Celebrates Festal

Seattle Center and Northwest Folklife deepen their longstanding partnership this year as Northwest Folklife Festival celebrates Festál Turns 20, as its Cultural Focus for 2017. The focus recognizes the outstanding series of 24 ethnic cultural festivals produced at Seattle Center on weekends throughout the year.

The Cultural Focus, a “festival within a festival” that Folklife Festival has presented for each of the past 10 years, features a Pacific Northwest community through special performances, panels, workshops, exhibitions, demonstrations and other activities to celebrate who we are as Seattleites and gain greater insight into the vast cultures that help to shape the character of our region.

For 46 years, Northwest Folklife has brought diverse communities of the Pacific Northwest together on the grounds of Seattle Center, a home its shares year-round with Seattle Center Festál, a public program of Seattle Center that works with 24 community organizations, including Northwest Folklife, to present ethnic cultural festivals at Seattle Center. As Festál Turns 20 in 2017, Northwest Folklife celebrates the ground-breaking, community-organizing work for which Festál is known.

Here are some of the ways to explore Festál Turns 20 at Northwest Folklife Festival:

The Art of Festál, an exhibit exploring a range of topics from historic artifacts to contemporary ideas of belonging, place and beauty from Festál organizations including Arab Festival, Hmong New Year Celebration, Italian Festival, Live Aloha Hawaiian Cultural Festival, Polish Festival Seattle and TurkFest, 11am–7pm, Friday, May 26 – Monday, May 29, Art Not Terminal Gallery.

Around the World through Cultural Attires, showcasing 14 Festál cultures, 3pm–5pm, Saturday, May 27, Charlotte Martin Theatre.

Northwest Folklife, Seattle Center and Jack Straw Cultural Center presents: Festál Turns 20 Music Collaboration Showcase highlighting nine distinguished musicians representing Festál in solo performances and a special live collaboration, 7pm–10pm, Saturday, May 27, Cornish Playhouse.

Iranian Festival presents Baran Dance Ensemble, music with Ayla and poetry by Ali Ghambari and Gazalle Willecke, 7pm–9pm, Sunday, May 28, Cornish Playhouse.

The Birth of Festál, a panel discussion with John Merner, Dennis Caldirola and Andy Frankel, 4pm–5pm, Saturday, May 27; and Cultivating Cultures, with Steven Sneed, Kabao Xiong Latha Sambamurti and Juliet Cheadle, 4pm–5pm, Sunday, May 28, Narrative Stage, Armory Lofts.

Festival Sundiata presents food demonstrations with Lillian Rambus from Simply Soulful, cooking Peach Cobbler, 12pm–12:45pm, Saturday, May 27; and Festa Italiana presents Brad Inserra, cooking Aglio e Olio, 12pm–12:45pm, Monday, May 29. Cultural Cuisine Stage, Armory Lofts.

BrasilFest presents VamoLÃ! Brazilian Drum & Dance Ensemble, Bloco Alegria Samba Band, Samba OlyWa, Brazilian Violin Trio and Show Brazil! 5pm–8pm, Sunday, May 28, Mural Amphitheatre.

Diwali Festival of Lights presents two very special cows from the ISKCON Vedic Cultural Centers in a hands-on activity. 11am–6pm, Monday, May 29, Discovery Zone in Artists at Play.

Spirit of Indigenous People screens a film, 4th World Fellows, directed by Bracken Hanuse Corlett and Amanda Strong, 5pm–7pm, Sunday, May 28; and Festival Sundiata presents We Shall Not Sleep -The Voices of Our Ancestors by Gary Giles. 1:45pm, 2:45pm, SIFF Film Center.

Pagdiriwang Philippine Festival presents a workshop, Philippine Rural Dance, Music and Attire, with dancer and choreographer Juliet Omli-Cawas Cheatle, 5:15pm–6pm, Saturday, May 27, Armory Court Stage.

The idea that culture exists all around us, in everything we do, is at the heart of Festál and Northwest Folklife Festival. Cultural communities, in partnership with Seattle Center, direct and guide the presentation of their traditions and current expression. The Festál producers, along with a cultural program personal from Seattle Center, work hand-in-hand throughout the year to mentor one another, brainstorm and discuss how to create the best possible cultural events in the heart of the city. Each seeks to transport arts and cultural celebrations from their respective communities to a centrally-located, neutral space where a much larger audience can see and experience them. The goal is not only to showcase the community to the larger region, but also to provide an annual gathering space for the community itself to come together.

Northwest Folklife Festival takes place this weekend on the grounds of Seattle Center. For more information on this four-day experiential cultural event, held every  year on Memorial Day weekend visit Seattle Center Festál is a program of Seattle Center Productions. Admission is free-of-charge. To learn more about this collection of ethnic cultural events and other Seattle Center public programming, visit or call 206-684-7200.