In 2015, Seattle Center Festál explores the “art of culture” in a series of 23 celebrations on weekends throughout the year. The events, organized by ethnic and cultural organizations, in partnership with Seattle Center, offer wide-ranging entertainment and hands-on learning opportunities. Festival-goers may engage with market vendors, food purveyors and information providers, while they enjoy illuminating exhibits and live music and dance that reveal the character and substance of the represented cultures.
Seattle Center Festál forms the bedrock of public programming at Seattle Center, captivating and enlightening festival-goers as they experience the distinct cultures that influence the character and course of our broader community. The festivals make use of stages and display areas in Seattle Center Armory, Fisher Pavilion, Mural Amphitheatre and other indoor and outdoor spaces at Seattle Center to present programming around themes of cultural importance such as celebrations of the moon and New Year, independence from colonial rule, remembrances of departed loved ones and the numerous factors that shape civilizations.
The 2015 series, at 23 festivals, is the largest yet for Seattle Center Festál, with Spirit of Indigenous People and Polish Festival Seattle recently joining the line-up. Opening in February with a celebration of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, Festál runs through mid-November.
Seattle Center Festál 2015 schedule:
Tet Festival – Vietnamese Lunar New Year marks the New Year with lucky money, martial arts and Children of the Dragon, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Feb. 21 – 22. Revisit one thousand years of the Vietnamese history at this festive celebration and experience the dance and visual arts of Vietnam.
Irish Week presents a snapshot of Irish culture, 12 p.m.-6 p.m., March 14 – 15. Shop for authentic Irish products, create Celtic arts and crafts and take in colorful cultural exhibits, live music and dance and contemporary Irish short films.
Seattle’s French Fest: A Celebration of French-Speaking Cultures highlights French influence around the world and in our region, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday, March 22. The Fest offers French-inspired products, cooking demos and children’s games, live entertainment, foods, theater and hands-on workshops.
Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival deliciously and delightfully defines Japanese culture, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., April 24 – 26. This feast for the senses features Japanese food, Taiko drumming and artisan demonstrations that present both a modern and ancient view of this complex culture.
Asian-Pacific Islander Heritage Month Celebration launches Asian-Pacific Islander Heritage Month in Seattle, 12 p.m.-5 p.m., Sunday, May 3, with spectacular lion dances, live music and dance, youth drill teams, martial arts, drumming and incredible artists from around the state
Spirit of West Africa offers drumming, dance, fashion and a lively marketplace, 12 p.m.-8 p.m., Saturday, May 9. The traditions of West African countries come to life through this spirited festival of live music, film, art and games.
A Glimpse of China – Chinese Culture and Arts Festival, where Beijing meets Seattle, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday, May 16. The festival highlights 5,000 years of Chinese history and showcases China’s distinct culture through arts and crafts, music and puppet performances, children’s activities and gift booths.
Northwest Folklife Festival celebrates the region’s rich cultural heritage, Memorial Day weekend, May 22 – 25. Northwest Folklife features over 7,000 performers, participatory dances, workshops, crafts, food and more.
Spirit of Indigenous People promotes the value of all Native Americans, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday, May 30. Traditional and contemporary music and dance speak to the world’s rich indigenous cultures, while native storytellers share the history and lore of their people.
Pagdiriwang Philippine Festival presents a colorful exploration of Philippine traditions and culture, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., June 6 – 7. This independence celebration features costumes and pageantry, Filipino bands, hands-on children’s activities, craft exhibits and martial arts.
Festival Sundiata presents Black Arts Fest marks African-American heritage and inspiration in music, food and fun, 12 p.m.-8 p.m., Saturday, and 12 p.m.-6 p.m., on Sunday, June 20 – 21. The festival educates the community and celebrates people of African descent with continuous live entertainment, dance workshops and drumming.
Polish Festival Seattle showcases vibrant Polish arts and crafts, savory and sweet pastries, live music and dance, 12 p.m.-8 p.m., Saturday, July 11, with hands-on demonstrations of cutout paper art, pierogi making and pickle soup and hand-crafted pottery and jewelry in the Polish marketplace.
Iranian Festival underscores a history of “unity in diversity” through performances, poetry and authentic cuisine, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 8. Music and dance, Rumi poetry, puppet shows and face painting provide a glimpse into this culturally opulent and expressive culture.
BrasilFest erupts in Brazilian music, martial arts and more, 12 p.m.-7 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 16. Festival-goers may march in a colorful parade, dance, sing, eat and be amazed as BrasilFest fills Seattle Center with a sultry display of South American soul, Brazilian style, and celebrates the cultural diversity of this dynamic country.
Tibet Fest, from the roof of the world, this unique culture lives in Himalayan arts, music and a craft bazaar, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Aug. 22 – 23. Tibet’s ancient and modern history are woven into Tibet Fest through a mix of traditional and contemporary performances, a children’s corner, foods and herbal medicines.
Arab Festival explores the cultural roots and current influences of Arab countries through live performances, foods, and a traditional bazaar, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Aug. 29 – 30. Strong coffee, dancing and workshops, family activities, crafts and more, illuminate Arab culture in our midst.
Live Aloha Hawaiian Cultural Festival brings to life the Aloha spirit in the Hula, Ono food, music and a Hawaiian marketplace, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday, Sept.13. Journey through the sights, sounds and tastes of Hawaii, experience the festive spirit of the islands and learn about their true history.
Seattle Fiestas Patrias celebrates vibrant culture and community, independence and wellness in music, food and family, 12 p.m.-6 p.m., Sept. 19 – 20. Sample traditional Latin American savories and sweets, dance to live mariachi music and join in children’s activities including a soccer clinic.
The Italian Festival features family fun and Italian indulgences, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday, and 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 26 – 27. Stomp grapes, toss a pizza, learn to cook Italian food, compete in a bocce tournament and celebrate the joy of “all things Italian,” from opera and popular music to pasta and wine.
CroatiaFest introduces the music, art, food, history and heritage of Croatia, 12 p.m.-8 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 4. Acclaimed dance ensembles and musicians, intricate costumes, art exhibits, folkdance lessons, wine tasting, tourist information and historical displays showcase Croatia’s rich past and vibrant present.
TurkFest, with a Bazaar, folkdancing and culinary delights, underscores Turkish linkages to East and West, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday, and 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 17 – 18. Savor a cup of Turkish tea or coffee and taste Turkish cuisine, while learning how the Ottoman culture influenced Balkan food, music, dance, customs and language.
Dia de Muertos – A Mexican Celebration to Remember Our Departed honors the past and remembers our departed in arts, ritual and spirituality, 12 p.m.-6:30p.m., Saturday, and 12 p.m.-6 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 31 – Nov. 1. Create sugar skulls and paper skeletons, explore community altars and march in a musical procession to remember the departed.
Hmong New Year Celebration preserves the ancient Southeast Asian highland cultures of China, Laos and Thailand, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 7. This harvest celebration showcases local Hmong dancers, musicians and artists in ways that illuminate this distinct culture.
Seattle Center Festál is a program of Seattle Center Productions. For more information on this cultural series and other Seattle Center public programming, click on www.seattlecenter.com or call 206 684-7200.