Seattle Summer Free Events Guide

Make the most of the sunny season with artistic activities that don’t cost a dime.

Seafair Summer Fourth It may be a bit of a nightmare trying to get to Gas Works Park for the annual Independence Day celebration, but the fireworks always deliver. Those onsite can enjoy the array of food vendors and live music from the likes of SassyBlack and Freddy Pink. (Or just find an alternative view of Lake Union from elsewhere in town when it gets dark.) July 4. Gas Works Park.

Downtown Summer Sounds Sometimes you just need a musical break from the workday. Downtown Summer Sounds (formerly the Out to Lunch concert series) is here to help by offering top local talent playing pop-up concerts at spots like City Hall Plaza and Westlake Park. This year’s slate includes standouts like Parisalexa, Prom Queen, and the Black Tones. July 9–Aug. 31. Various locations.

Dancing Til Dusk Even those with two left feet are welcome at Dancing Til Dusk’s 14 nights of live music and community dance lessons. If you’ve ever been interested in leaning to waltz, swing dance, salsa, or tango, the annual summer series provides experts to walk you through the motions (or you can just kick back and listen to the music while watching other people boogie). July 10–Aug. 23. Various parks.

Wooden O Summer is the off-season for most theater companies, but thankfully Seattle Shakespeare Company picks up the slack. Wooden O brings The Bard’s classics to wonderful park venues around the Seattle area for family to enjoy. For 2018, Seattle Shakes produces the tragedy of the mad King Lear and the comedic follies of The Merry Wives of Windsor. July 12–Aug. 12. Various parks.

Ballard Seafood Fest While other food festivals offer more variety, there’s something wonderfully direct about Ballard Seafood Fest. It doesn’t mess around. After all these years, salmon BBQ and the crab shack remain its core elements. The solid lineups of arts and crafts, beer, and music (including headliner Blitzen Trapper) just feel like added bonuses on the fishy pile. July 13–15. West Seattle.

West Seattle Summer Fest Without a ton of fanfare, West Seattle Summer Fest has become the city’s best entirely free music festival. The lineups consistently feature top local talent, and the neighborhood’s community vibe keeps things welcoming and fun. This year’s edition is no different, with musical offerings from Dude York, Mirrorlgoss, Spesh, the Dusty 45’s, and Shannon and the Clams. July 13–15. West Seattle.

Seattle Outdoor Theater Festival While Shakespeare’s works dominate the outdoor theater scene nationwide, there are alternatives. And OK, the Seattle Outdoor Theater Festival does feature both Wooden O plays and performances of other Bard works like Twelfth Night, The Winter’s Tale, and Henry IV, but the two-day event also boasts productions of Pinocchio, The Three Musketeers, When You Wish Upon a Pizza, and a Shakespearian sendup by Jet City Improv. July 14 & 15. Volunteer Park.

Seattle Summer Free Events Guide

Bite of Seattle Come with an empty stomach, because Bite of Seattle is a culinary onslaught. With over 60 restaurants and vendors, there’s no way to sample all of the local flavors. That doesn’t mean we won’t try (and probably regret it the following day). July 20–22. Seattle Center.

BAM Artsfair For the Northwest’s largest arts and crafts festival, Bellevue Arts Museum brings together more than 300 creators to show off their handmade wares. As if the impressive pop-up outdoor gallery wasn’t enough, there are also dance and music performances, sidewalk chalk drawings, and free admission to the museum. July 27–29. Bellevue Arts Museum.

Chamber Music in the Park There frankly should be more outdoor classical music in Seattle, but at least this annual Seattle Chamber Music Society event continues to entertain grass-seated audiences. This year’s performance features string masterworks by Anton Arensky and Johannes Brahms. July 28. Volunteer Park.

Concerts at the Mural What better way to start a weekend than taking in a free concert on the grass on a Friday evening? Seattle Center’s Concerts at the Mural consistently delivers excellent KEXP-curated live shows, and this year should be no different with lineups including a Sub Pop celebration with Afghan Whigs and Mass Gothic (Aug. 10), the punk bliss and edge of TacocaT and the Coathangers (Aug. 3), and the rock jams of the Moondoggies (Aug. 24). Aug. 3, 10, 17, & 24. Seattle Center.

Towards Impressionism: Landscape Painting from Corot to Monet Beat the heat by ducking into the always-free Frye Art Museum to check out their current exhibition of impressionist masterworks. The show highlights the development of impressionist techniques and styles through more than 40 serene visions of the French countryside on loan from Reims’ Musée des Beaux-Arts. Thru Aug. 5. Frye Art Museum.

South Lake Union Block Party While it doesn’t have the best neighborhood vibe, South Lake Union comes together for its annual summer bash with food trucks, community-focused booths, lawn games, and more. What really sets SLU Block Party apart this year is the musical lineup featuring indie icon Built to Spill and local favorite Deep Sea Diver. Aug. 10. Westlake Avenue North & Denny Way.

SPF 30 (Sub Pop’s 30th anniversary) Seattle’s most famed record label celebrates three decades in style when SPF 30 takes over Alki Beach. The lineup for the all-day concert is ridiculously stacked: Mudhoney, Shabazz Palaces, Beach House, Wolf Parade, Clipping., METZ, LVL UP, the Fastbacks, and many others. The festivities also feature a poster show, a beer garden, and (of course) a record fair. Aug. 11. Alki Beach.

Outdoor Movies Series Local cinephiles are lucky to have an array of free summer movie series scattered across town for their viewing pleasure. Different organizations host screens at the Seattle Center Mural, the South Lake Union Discovery Center, city parks (Westlake, Hing Hay, Denny, etc.), and even bars (Peddler Brewing Company). The lineups this year feature plenty of classics (Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Goonies, The Princess Bride) as well as fresh-from theaters blockbusters (Black Panther, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Coco). Thru Aug. 29. See movie-calendar-2018 for full listings.

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