Seattle Center Arena Construction

March 6, 2019

Dear Folklife Community,

The redevelopment of KeyArena into a world-class arena has begun under a Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Seattle and Oak View Group. The project will impact the scope of our annual Northwest Folklife Festival in 2019 and 2020, and tentatively for 2021. For the most up-to-date information, please visit seattlecenter.com/arena.

Please note the following changes for this year’s Festival:

  • Limited use of Northwest Court and Alki Court: These areas are pass-through only. Vendors are relocated throughout grounds.
  • Programming previously hosted on the Trad Stage and Back Porch Stage are relocated to stages throughout grounds and are featured throughout the four days of the festival.
  • Seattle Center Pavilion, the Skate Park, and Restroom Pavilion are no longer available for public use.
  • Performer Check-In is at McCaw Hall Lobby.
  • The Folklife Café Stage, previously located in McCaw Hall, is in Cornish’s Alhadeff Studio (Folklife Underground Café), directly south of the Cornish Playhouse. This stage showcases storytelling, singer-songwriters, and other intimate performances throughout the weekend.
  • There is no public access to the Next 50 Annex (Volunteer Registration). Volunteer Headquarters are on the 3rd floor of the Armory in Loft 2. Music and Dance Workshops, previously located on the 3rd Floor of the Armory, are on the 4th Floor of the Armory.
  • The 1st Avenue Garage (Bressi Garage) is no longer available for public use. Parking is available at the Mercer Street or 5th Avenue Garages (Seattle Center), the lot between Memorial Stadium and MoPOP (Seattle Public Schools) or on regulated streets.
  • 2nd Avenue North and Thomas Street will be restricted to operational traffic.

Northwest Folklife is committed to bringing programming representative and reflective of our diverse Pacific Northwest communities. Though the construction has impacted our ability to keep the number of stages, showcases, and activities we have traditionally provided, we are confident that the 20+ stages, hundreds of vendors, and countless hours of dance, music, and workshops at the Festival will celebrate the cultural tapestry of the Pacific Northwest as it has for the last 48 years. We look forward to celebrating the 50th Anniversary of our Festival on the beautiful and better-than-ever grounds in 2021!

If you have any questions regarding the festival, please reach out: Programming@nwfolklife.org or call (206) 684-4189.


The redevelopment of KeyArena into a world-class arena will begin this fall under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Seattle and Oak View Group. The construction project, currently scheduled to last for two years,   could impact the scope of our annual Northwest Folklife Festival in 2019 and 2020.

Northwest Folklife has been in conversations with Seattle Center and Oak View Group concerning the redevelopment, and we will communicate with our community as  the project plans become solidified and we know more. Please note that although there will be changes to the layout and size of the Festival in 2019 and 2020, the annual gatherings will still take place on Seattle Center grounds.

Northwest Folklife is committed to creating opportunities for all to share, celebrate, and showcase the cultural traditions of the Pacific Northwest. We are dedicated to working closely with cultural communities to ensure equity throughout our programs including the abundant array of genres represented in Northwest Folklife’ s programs.

Northwest Folklife’s cause of ‘Cultural Inclusion’ includes ensuring marginalized and underrepresented community’s voices are heard through these times of change and prioritization of programs.


For more information, please visit the following resources:

New Arena at Seattle Center

New Arena at Seattle Center Draft Environmental Impact Statement