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Seattle Center Congratulates Northwest Folklife Festival on its 50th Anniversary

One of Seattle Center’s most extraordinary and enduring community partnerships celebrates a milestone this year, the 50th anniversary of Northwest Folklife Festival. This massive four-day annual event over Memorial Day weekend, typically presenting around 5,000 artists on 25 stages (in non-pandemic times), traditionally serves as the start of summer on the grounds. In 2021, it takes place virtually, May 28-31, on online at  

Northwest Folklife, an active, year-round arts organization with a mission “to preserve the integrity of traditional arts in the Northwest and to encourage their growth by providing a forum for performance and the exchange of ideas and skills with the public” produces the annual festival. The partnership between Northwest Folklife and the City of Seattle through Seattle Center is codified through an ordinance that calls on the City to “co-sponsor and co-promote on the Seattle Center grounds an annual folk and ethnic arts, crafts and entertainment festival thematically oriented to folklife and folklore…free and open to the public.” The commitment reflects City of Seattle values around inclusion and cultural understanding. 

The partnership stands as a unique and positive collaboration that benefits the whole community. Northwest Folklife plans, organizes, stages and produces the festival. Seattle Center helps promote it, provides the space for the sprawling event and supplies the staff and resources to fulfill a number of functions including technical equipment operations, sound, stage, security, admissions, event service, janitorial and other labor, recycling and garbage.  

After 50 years, Folklife Festival has become one of the largest and last remaining major community festivals in the country. This year, it showcases over 120 performances on six program channels, 75-plus local merchants spotlighted on the Virtual Marketplace and a Merchandise Store to purchase special 50th memorabilia. It maintains the participatory elements of its in-person past, such as workshops, dances, games and gathering rooms and adds fun, family-friendly on-demand options.  

Seattle Center congratulates Northwest Folklife Festival for presenting the innumerable cultures, traditions and artistic expressions of our community. May our partnership continue to flourish through the next 50 years. Learn more at or call 206 684-7200. 

#seattlecenter #folklifefestival #virtual

About Seattle Center: 

Connect to the extraordinary at Seattle Center, an active civic, arts and family gathering place in the core of our region. More than 30 cultural, educational, sports and entertainment organizations that reside on the grounds, together with a broad range of public and community programs, create thousands of events on the 74-acre campus and attract over 12 million visitors each year. At Seattle Center, part of Uptown Arts & Cultural District, our purpose is to create exceptional events, experiences and environments that delight and inspire the human spirit to build stronger communities. Activities at the Center generate $1.864 billion in business activity and $631 million in labor income.