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Experience One of America's Largest Multicultural Events in the Emerald City

Standing at the forefront of cutting-edge movements in everything from cuisine to art, Seattle is an ever-changing destination with an eye towards the future. As one of the greatest art cities on the planet, the Emerald City is home to an impressive collection of artists, dancers, musicians, and writers. Any fan of art will instantly fall in love with Chihuly Garden and Glass. Here people can see a variety of jaw-dropping glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly, one of the Northwest’s best-known artists. Those in search of unique and trendsetting cuisine have found their Shangri-La. A few culinary hotspots to check out include Rider, Le Messe, and Chavez.


The Northwest Folklife Festival is one of the most significant multicultural events in America, and it will take place May 25-28 at the Seattle Center. This family-friendly event is free to attend and includes more than 5,000 performers from more than 100 cultural communities. This year’s theme is Echoes of Aztlán and Beyond, celebrating Mexican American and Chicana/o communities from around the region. Fans of music can pick from more than 800 shows on 26 stages with musical genres ranging from American roots to the music of the British Isles. Patrons attending with the entire family should stop by the Discovery Zone, which features interactive workshops, performances, hands-on activities, and more. Those interested in the visual arts can attend exhibitions featuring works by local artist-curator Fulgencio Lazo and historic photographs by El Centro de la Raza. Food lovers can sample snacks, treats, and meals from more than 40 food vendors, and shoppers can browse the handmade goods, arts, and crafts at more than 200 general vendors. interviewed Communications Coordinator, April Jingco, to learn more about this unique multicultural experience.


RAL: Tell me a little bit about the event.

AJ: The Northwest Folklife Festival is Northwest Folklife’s annual event that celebrates the music, arts, and culture that is present in the greater Pacific Northwest. We are for the people by the people. There are no tickets and no gates, but we suggest a $10 daily donation to help us make these programs accessible to all.


Every year, Northwest Folklife engages a Northwest community to showcase throughout the year. This cultural focus allows Folklife to connect more in-depth with the people that we serve and empower their artistic expressions and cultural traditions.


Our 2018 cultural focus, Echoes of Aztlán and Beyond explores and celebrates Mexican American and Chicana/o communities from around the Pacific Northwest through stories, art, film, music, song, cuisine, dance, language, and culture. The goal of this program is to showcase, preserve and recognize traditional and popular arts and culture in Mexican American and Chicana/o communities in our region.


RAL: How long has the event been running?

AJ: This will be the 47th annual Northwest Folklife Festival. For the past 47 years, Northwest Folklife has had the honor of working with and serving our greater Pacific Northwest community. Each Festival has showcased thousands of local artists representing the beautiful cultures of our broader community. We are thankful for the continued support and we look forward to the future Festivals to come.


RAL: How many annual attendees do you draw?

AJ: Each year, this festival draws over 250,000 attendees from the greater Pacific Northwest.


RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?

AJ: We work year-round with over 100 Community Coordinators who help to program many of the Festival’s performances and showcases. Because this festival is community-powered and community-curated, The Northwest Folklife Festival has a little something for everyone. The Festival offers folks an opportunity to learn, dance play, try something new, explore the various cultures of our community, and meet your neighbors. 


For the youth and families in attendance, we have a Discovery Zone that hosts family-

friendly performances, hands-on activities, and workshops! 


We encourage everyone to look at our website to discover all of the exciting

opportunities at the Festival.


RAL: What makes this event unique?

AJ: This Festival is for the people, by the people, meaning that we are community-powered and community-curated.


We are proud to work with over 100 Community Coordinators year-round who highlight the voices of the various communities within the greater Pacific Northwest to ensure that all of our programming reflects the people that it serves.


RAL: Take me through a day at the event. What can I expect as an attendee?

AJ: As an attendee, you can experience live music on 26 stages, participatory dance and music-making, curated films, panels, foods from around the world, and more. With so many things to do, we encourage folks to “choose your own adventure!” We encourage you to curate your own day-to-day itinerary using the SCHED app so you can really make this Festival cater to you!


RAL: What activities will attendees encounter?

AJ: For a full breakdown of the activities, stop by our schedule page!


RAL: What will attendees find for dining options?

AJ: This year, we have over 40 food vendors representing flavors from all around the world! From Hawaiian BBQ to Lebanese food, there are so many delicious options for everyone! You can see the full list of food vendors here.


RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?

AJ: The area is home to a variety of lodging options which can be found here.


RAL: Are there any lodging specials that are set up for the event?

AJ: This is Mediterranean Inn’s 16th year sponsoring the Folklife Festival! It is located right across the street from Seattle Center. Visitors can receive $10 off prevailing rates when you mention Northwest Folklife. Email them for more info (


RAL: What does this event mean to the community?

AJ: This festival is for the people, by the people. It's one of the largest festivals in the nation that features performances that genuinely represent the growing cultures of our

community. Northwest Folklife sees the importance of showcasing the traditions, arts,

and customs of the Pacific Northwest, and our Festival allows our community to come

together to learn, take part in, and take pride in the beautiful traditions of this place we

live in!


RAL: Does the event support a particular cause in the community?

AJ: Northwest Folklife believes that celebrating the arts and cultures of our community

is a necessity. The event not only creates an opportunity for cultural exchange and

celebration, but supports the passing down of music, arts and traditions from generation

to generation to ensure that we keep the beautiful traditions of the Pacific Northwest



RAL: Why should people come to your event?

AJ: The Northwest Folklife Festival is your one-stop destination for experiencing all that

the Pacific Northwest takes pride in. From experiencing an Indigenous pow wow to learning more about the various Mexican American and Chicana/o, there are unique

and memorable experiences for everyone.


For more information about the Northwest Folklife Festival, please visit the event website.