Big Events Happening in Seattle This Year

Break out the calendar 📅

A large crowd of people wave and cheer at the 2023 Capitol Hill Block Party in Capitol Hill, Seattle, Washington.

📸: Capitol Hill Block Party | Eric Tra

2024 is a banner year for big events in Seattle. It’s the 40th anniversary of ZooTunes at Woodland Park Zoo, the 50th anniversary of Seattle Pride Month, the Seattle International Film Festival, and the Sounders, and the 75th anniversary of the SeaFair Festival. So break out your calendars, put on your party hats, and start reviewing some of these standout Seattle events, concerts, and festivals.

Seattle International Film Festival 2024

May 9–19

📸: Adam Kubota

The exterior of SIFF Cinema Downtown, formerly known as Cinerama.

📆 Thursday, May 9th – Sunday, May 19th

2024 is a big year for the Seattle International Film Festival. It’s turning the big 5-0. 

For the past half-century, the film festival has brought Seattle audiences boundary-pushing feature-length movies, shorts, and secret screenings from around the world. SIFF’s history is mythical—they premiered Ridley Scott’s Alien back in 1979, served as Dutch director Paul Verhoeven’s American launching pad, and supported films from Seattle directors like Lynn Shelton and Megan Griffith. 

Although SIFF has had to shrink its length and screening schedule, 2023 saw a bump in in-person attendance, meaning people are hungry for IRL movie experiences. Last year, I saw Ira Sach’s chaotically European bisexual drama Passages at SIFF Egyptian. I then immediately hopped on a Lime bike to check out the fest’s Pacific Northwest shorts screening at SIFF Uptown. Both were just too good to miss! From my first SIFF in 2019, I still remember the wonder of watching Fantastic Planet while DJ NicFit spun The Flaming Lips over the freaky animated movie. Cinema? Is powerful! 

Running from May 9th to 19th this year, SIFF is going all out with their 50th birthday celebrations. While programming details are still mum, they’re running an Early Bird special for members through February 29th, so you still have a chance to get a deal on a SIFF film pass. Plus, this year promises to be extra exciting because SIFF has officially christened SIFF Downtown (FKA Cinerama). They’ve been showing big-budget films there like Wonka and Lord of the Ringsbut I’m partially hoping that during the 2024 SIFF season, they’ll screen offbeat movies like a silent Polish horror or an experimental Midwestern drama about time. A film nerd can only dream. 

🖊 JAS KEIMIG

Northwest Folklife Festival 2024

May 24–27

📸: Raven Juarez and Eli Lara

The poster for the Folklife Festival created by Raven Juarez and Eli Lara, depicting illustrated people dancing around the Seattle Center.

📆 Friday, May 24th – Monday, May 27th

Northwest Folklife is a Seattle tradition that spans more than five decades. The 53rd iteration of the yearly event takes place May 24th to 27th at the Seattle Center. (And streaming online!) For those new around here, the festival celebrates the arts, cultures, and traditions of a global Pacific Northwest. It’s community-powered and free to attend—though donations keep this Seattle staple going.

Each year, the fest sets a specific cultural focus. In 2022, coming out of the pandemic, the theme was Metamorphosis. This year, it’s Meraki, a Greek word that means passion, joy, and the actualization of desire. Very fitting, considering the lockdown inspired many of us to seek out self-realization.

Expect a big festival, with performers on 20+ stages and hundreds of food and craft vendors showcasing local ingenuity. This year, enjoy “Threads of the People,” a new take on a fashion show, “Kuleana Corridor,” which highlights those working in food justice, and “The Maker’s Space,” where numerous hands-on demonstrations will happen. And see the 15-inch quilt blocks, which will make up the “Community Quilt” to honor the art of quilting. 

Stay tuned to Folklife’s Instagram for the festival schedule as we approach May. 

🖊 PATHERESA WELLS

HONK! Fest West 2024

May 31 – June 2

📸: HONK! Fest West

A group of performers at HONK! Fest West play instruments in front of colorful sets.

📆 Friday, May 31st – Sunday, June 2nd

HONK! Festival West is all about bringing music to the streets during an annual multi-day fest in public spaces. This year, it’ll happen from May 31st to June 2nd, 2024. 

Imagine the energy of a second-line procession from New Orleans brought to a neighborhood near you in the Seattle area. In 2024, HONK! goes down in Georgetown on May 31st, Columbia City on June 1st, and another TBD location on June 2nd. A worldwide festival, it started near Boston in 2006 when a group of renegade street bands got their groove on. Two years later, the event spread to Seattle. Now, it happens all over, including in our neighboring cities of Tacoma and Portland. 

In addition to brass bands, find percussion groups, punk rock marching bands, and even Seattle-based cultural performances all jamming away. Previous banks that have played include Neon Brass Party, 8-Bit Brass Band, and Filthy FemCorps—Seattle’s all-women, nonbinary, and trans street band! Expect color and costumes from the performers and an all-ages crowd psyched for summer. Plus, the harmony of the horn section.

🖊 PATHERESA WELLS

12 More Big Things to Do in the Seattle Area This Year

🦸‍♀️ Emerald City Comic Con 2024 (February 29–March 3)
🌷 Skagit Valley Tulip Festival 2024 (April 1–30)
🐅 ZooTunes Summer Concert Series 2024 (Dates TBA)
🛫 SeaFair Weekend 2024 (June 29–August 4)
🧝‍♀️ Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire 2024 (July 19–August 18)
🖼 Seattle Art Fair 2024 (July 25–28)
🚙 Nepantla’s Lowrider Block Party 2024 (Date TBA)
☔️ Bumbershoot Arts and Music Festival 2024 (August 31–September 1)
🥡 U District $4 Food Walk 2024 (Date TBA)
🍫 Northwest Chocolate Festival 2024 (October 4–6)
🎶 Earshot Jazz Festival 2024 (Dates TBA)
🌲 Winter Bonsai Solstice Festival 2024 (Date TBA)

Seattle Pride Month 2024

June 1–30

📸: Seattle Pride

A group of friends lounging during a Pride event in Seattle.

📆 All of June

If Seattle is one thing, it’s proud.

As one of the gayest cities in America, the LGBTQ+ community in Seattle is strong and shows out in support of one another. That’s what makes Pride such a special time in the city—everyone is always poised to clackity-clack their fans and down to revel. Pride is all month long in June, but Seattle traditionally celebrates being queer on the last week of the month. This year, June 29th to 30th is Seattle’s 50th Pride, which is major! 

Like every year, Seattle PrideFest will host a big two-day party.

On Saturday, the festival takes over Capitol Hill, closing Broadway Ave between E John and E Roy for vendors, food trucks, and performances. I’ve always loved Bait Shop Pride, where some of my favorite drag entertainers lip-sync in the blazing sun on a stage just outside the bar. (The perfect moment for Jello shots.)

Then, on Sunday, loads of hungover gay people lounge around the PrideFest Seattle Center ground, watching more musical and dance performances or cooling off in the big fountain. It also serves as a landing place for the Seattle Pride Paradewhich takes place earlier that morning with hundreds of groups marching downtown and usually around 300,000 paradegoers cheering on the past, present, and future of the LGBT community.

Though not officially announced yet, usually Queer/BarRhein HausThe Cuff, and Wildrose all host big festivals and parties, typically just outside their respective bars on Pride weekend. You should also keep an eye on queer-focused clubs like Kremwerk and new-to-the-scene Massive for all your late-night dance music needs. And, of course, there will be tons of one-off Pride events hosted by clubs, bars, and restaurants across the city, not just on Pride weekend but throughout June. Clear your schedule!

🖊 JAS KEIMIG

Capitol Hill Block Party 2024

July 19–21

📸: CHBP

A preview image for the Capitol Hill Block Party 2024, featuring a large crowd in 2023.

📆 Friday, July 19th – Sunday, July 21st

Nothing says summer in Seattle like the Capitol Hill Block Party (CHBP). 

For one weekend every July, the three-day music festival takes over four blocks in the Pike/Pine Corridor on Capitol Hill. It brings some of the hottest names, locally and globally, to perform for crowds of sweaty, enthusiastic concertgoers. You haven’t seen anything until you’ve watched Charli XCX perform “Vroom” right next to the 79 on Pine, Yves Tumor slink around the outdoor Vera Stage, or raucous Tacoma band Enumclaw chuck CD cases at the crowd. 

CHBP’s roots go back to 1997 when Jen Gapay organized a free one-day event on the Hill with five bands, a couple of DJs, and a small stage on 10th and Union. In the 26 years since, the festival’s footprint has expanded to encompass several venues in the area, bringing in big-name talents like Lizzo and Diplo. And it’s certainly no longer free. However, CHBP is a good opportunity to see an eclectic mix of popular, upcoming national acts alongside Seattle musicians on big stages. 

This year, the block party goes down from July 19th to 21st. While specifics are still yet to be announced, CHBP typically has close to 10 stages to check out: a main stage near Broadway, the Vera Stage on 11th and Union, the entire Neumos complex, Cha Cha Lounge, Vermillion, Cafe Racer, Wild Rose, and activations in Chophouse Row. The block party is for all ages, but there are beer gardens and 21+ venues for those who want some distance from teeny-boppers stanning Dominic Fike. And, of course, there’ll be a food court to satisfy your dietary needs. 

If you check out CHBP, I have two pieces of advice: wear sunscreen and stay hydrated. Thank me later!

🖊 JAS KEIMIG

PAX West 2024

August 30 – September 2

📸: PAX West

A group of people play a table top game at PAX West in Seattle, WA

📆 Labor Day Weekend 2024: Friday, August 30th – Monday, September 2nd

The countdown to PAX West 2024 is on. 🎮 

The annual gaming festival returns to Seattle for the Labor Day weekend, from August 30th to September 2nd, 2024. Expect this one to be massive—the con is turning 20! Born from the humble origins of the Penny Arcade Expo, PAX came to life in 2004 as a gaming industry-specific show. It’s a beast that’s grown as large as any video game boss. Catering to all sorts of gamers, from consoles to tabletop to VR, the festival includes numerous components such as free play, tournaments, a “Bring Your Own Computer” (BYOC) party, panels, an exhibit hall with merch—and, famously, the Omegathon, a mega tournament featuring games of all platforms and genres.

Last year, PAX brought Nintendo Live to Seattle, the first time the Nintendo-focused convention was held outside of Japan. For this double-decade birthday party, expect surprises and celebrations. And speaking of celebrations, PAX has had more than its share during its history, including many wedding proposals—like the Halo one or this somehow cute and cringe Pokemon proposal. This year, expect an anniversary as epic as any RPG game. PAX badges typically go on sale a few months in advance. Badges will get you access to almost all content. Unlike many other nerdy cons, there are no added fees for panels, autograph sessions, demos, and workshops.

Sign up for PAX’s newsletter for updates. 

🖊 PATHERESA WELLS

Washington State Fair 2024

August 30 – September 22

📸: Foreigner | Coming to the Washington State Fair 2024

A lead performer for the band Foreigner raises a fist in the air in this promotional image for the Washington State Fair 2024

📆 Friday, August 30th – Sunday, September 22nd

Doing the Puyallup” is an annual tradition for many Washingtonians. Whether you go for the scones, elephant ears, or rides like the Xtreme Scream, the fair is full of PNW flavor. Not only does it let us ride a culinary roller coaster with all of its good food, but there are also all the attractions, from the fair’s well-known concert series to a new “udderly amazing” birthing exhibit. For 2024, the Washington State Fair returns from August 30th to September 22nd at the Puyallup Fairgrounds. 

Though the fair is still far away, its Umpqua Bank Concert Series just announced two live performances. First, catch Foreigner for the band’s farewell tour, then hear country singer-songwriter Thomas Rhett. Tickets for those concerts are on sale now. In addition to the paid concert series, the fair has numerous stages featuring free entertainment—everything from comedy to juggling, plus local bands. And don’t forget the fair’s hobby hall, fair farm, and rodeo. As always, there’s a fireworks show each night at 10 pm. 

Tickets are cheaper if you buy in advance online. Each year, select days are free to enter (usually with a donation of nonperishable food for the food bank or school supplies). There are also Military Mondays and a Free Kids Weekend. For those who love rides, grab the Xfinity Dizzy Pass for unlimited rides

🖊 PATHERESA WELLS

Freakout Festival 2024

November 7 – 10

📸: Freakout

A colored background with reds and blues that acts as a promotional image for Freakout Festival

📆 Thursday, November 7th — Sunday, November 10th

Every November, a suspicious amount of people with cool wolf haircuts and fat silver rings congregate in dark bars around Ballard to listen to acts from around the world as they shred guitars and scream into mics while gloopy blobs of color project onto them. It’s psychedelic. It’s fun. It’s so Seattle.

I’m talking about Freakout Festival, an annual music fest that celebrates all things punk, rock, and psychedelia. Started in 2013 by musician Guy Keltner, Freakout has nurtured a community of freaks who like to get down to all manners of music while Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show projects sick visuals onstage. There’s always local talent on display, with bands like Monsterwatch and Biblioteka regularly playing, but the festival also brings in national and international acts like No AgeAllah-Las, and Os Mutantes. There’s a strong connection with the Latin American punk underground, with bands like Margaritas PodridasCarrion Kids, and Sgt. Papers gracing Freakout stages. Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of many bands on the lineup—half the fun is discovering groups you might not have gotten the chance to see otherwise. 

At every festival, dozens of bands usually spread across venues like Sunset TavernTractor TavernThe Salmon Bay Eagles, and Caffe Umbria in Ballard over three days. This year, Freakout Fest runs from November 7th to 10th, and while it will still focus on Ballard, they have plans to expand the debauchery into Fremont at Nectar Lounge and High Dive. The official lineup is still on the way, but expect their specific brand of local, Latin American, European, and national acts to play the fest. 

🖊 JAS KEIMIG

@theticketsea

🧪 Mad Alchemy from the Mad Alchemist 💧 If you were at Freakout Festival over the past weekend you couldn’t have missed the liquid light show at the Salmon Bay Hi stage. The guy behind it is Lance Gordon, who started mixing glass plates, ink, oil dye, and light when he was 17. We asked the Mad Alchemist about his techniques and how his analog show has evolved over the years.  Having worked with many of Freakout’s bands before, Lance said Friday night’s show was something of a “new-psych reunion” and “a great rock and roll night” as he lit up the Allah-Las, Death Valley Girls, The Shivas, and Night Beats, among others. He’s worked with Freakout for around eight years and done both Ballard’s Freakout Festival and Freakout Weekender at the Crocodile. “Seattle’s very lucky to have them,” he said of Freakout’s organizers, giving a special shout-out to Acid Tongue frontman Guy Keltner for his role in curating the festival’s lineup, saying, “He did a great job.” Then adding: “His band sounded great too.” 🎶: Allah-Las and @Acid Tongue #madalchemyliquidlightshow #freakoutfestival #seattlemusic

♬ original sound – TheTicketSeattle

Author

Patheresa Wells

Patheresa Wells is a Black/Persian, Pansexual, Polyamorous Poet (so many Ps) and writer living in Seatac. An aspiring comic, you can catch her cracking jokes at open mics around the area. In her free time, she likes to imagine what she’d do with free time and feed her backyard crows cuz they’re silly. Follow her on Twitter @PatheresaWells.

An author pic of Jas Keimig. They have blue braids.

Jas Keimig

Jas Keimig is an arts and culture writer in Seattle. Their work has previously appeared in The Stranger, i-D, Netflix, and Feast Portland. They won a game show once and have a thing for stickers.

City Guides

More City Guides