Your Communities. Your Traditions. Your Folklife.

Who We Are

Essential to Folklife is self-expression: communities bring their traditions, artists showcase their talents and audiences of all ages share and participate in the magic. Northwest Folklife creates opportunities for all to celebrate, share, and participate in the evolving cultural traditions of the Pacific Northwest: community-powered, thanks to performers, participants, patrons, sponsors and volunteers.  Learn more about how Northwest Folklife is community-powered.

Northwest Folklife presents ‘living traditions:’ arts and culture as a way of life. Daily creativity, family traditions, community customs: folklife is a part of our daily lives. The US Library of Congress says: “’folklife’ is the everyday and intimate creativity that all of us share and pass on to the next generation.”  Learn more about folklife.

Northwest Folklife is Community
The Pacific Northwest is home to an extraordinary group of communities—ethnic, familial, occupational, religious, and regional—and we believe it is important to celebrate and help sustain the traditions of all of those groups. Doing so revitalizes people and communities and helps preserve cultural heritage for years to come. We believe that when people share their way of life, opportunities are created to dissolve misunderstandings, break down stereotypes and increase respect for one another.

What We Do

Northwest Folklife programs afford access for all to participate together with no financial barrier, creating the most inclusive, wide-reaching arts experiences for people of all ages and cultural backgrounds in the region, and quite possibly the nation. With open access to programs, no admission charge thanks to your donations, we seek contributions. Join us!

Northwest Folklife Festival
Contra and Cajun dancing; Polkas and poetry, films and fiddles; sea chanties, spoon playing and Scandinavian storytelling: the possibilities are endless, representing the arts and culture of the region over Memorial Day Weekend at Seattle Center. In 2017, the Festival featured 133 community showcases, 5,000 performers on 25 stages, 160 street performers, 90 hours of participatory dance, Kid’s Discovery Zone, and about 235,000 folks in attendance. In a truly unique 45-year tradition, performers donate their performances at the Northwest Folklife Festival. For all other programs and referrals to gigs, Northwest Folklife’s policy is to pay performers. Through community outreach and an open-call process, over 1,000 artists apply to participate in the Northwest Folklife Festival, and about 850 are scheduled based on curatorial goals, time, and space available. Types of artistic participation include music, dance, storytelling & spoken word, workshops, panels, presentations and films. Join us every Memorial Day weekend.

Seattle Children’s Festival
Northwest Folklife’s Seattle Children’s Festival is a one-day, multi-cultural festival held on Seattle Center grounds, “Celebrating Our Big Neighborhood.” Music, story-telling, dance, cooking, crafts and more spark curiosity and promote cross-cultural understanding, exploration, and acceptance. More than 25 performances and 5 indoor venues, with over 3,000 parents and kids in attendance.

Learn more about the values that drive Northwest Folklife.

Explore artist interviews, video, and recordings at

Northwest Folklife was founded in 1972, with the first Northwest Folklife Festival. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, our Tax ID # is 91-1311548.

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