Northwest Folklife Festival


Street Performing

Northwest Folklife welcomes performances by Street Performers! We recognize that those performances have a long history with the Festival, add to the overall festival atmosphere, and we (and our audiences) appreciate them.

Street Performing

Northwest Folklife welcomes performances by Street Performers! We recognize that street performances have a long history with the Festival, add to the overall festival atmosphere, and we (and our audiences) really appreciate you. Folklife encourages street performers who receive tips to make a donation to support the Festival. We operate on the honor system, and the size of your donation is up to you. We recommend 20% of your proceeds be donated back to Northwest Folklife. When you donate to Northwest Folklife, you support the opportunity that you have to perform at the Festival. Your support helps keep the Festival alive this year and into the future. Northwest Folklife is a small nonprofit that depends on donations from Festival-goers to keep this event going each year. Your donations support work by the Northwest Folklife staff throughout the year to ensure a successful Festival for all.

We will not be providing street performers with hospitality buttons

If you would like access to our hospitality area, we invite you to volunteer on-site at Volunteer Registration or online HERE.  To apply to perform on one of our programmed stages for a future Festival. We will have an online application process that goes online in the fall.

We want this program to evolve with you! If you are interested in becoming a part of the planning process for the 2020 Festival, please email us.

What is considered a street performer vs an illegal vendor?

Street Performers are performers who sing, dance, perform theatrics, and entertain a crowd. They ask for tips for their performance and do not sell goods. Selling crafts, balloon art, face painting, and other items don’t make for street performances. That makes you a vendor. Northwest Folklife has a system in place for vending. We have a juried process, locations that are pre-determined, and fees that are associated with these transactions. If you are interested in becoming a sidewalk vendor, please email us.

Choosing a Location

You may choose a location when you arrive. Locations cannot be saved from one day to the next (first come, first served). Your activities may not interfere with any scheduled performance or programmed activity. You may be asked to move to another location at any time at the discretion of a Street Performer Coordinator. You are not guaranteed the same spot all day.

For the safety and enjoyment of all who attend, the following areas are off-limits for street performing:

  • Covered walkways
  • Within 30 feet of a captive audience (including all vendors & lines)
  • Washrooms or entrances and exits of washrooms
  • Entrances and exits from any facility, door, loading dock, elevator or stairway
  • Inside of any building
  • The Fisher Green programmed area (the entire block). This space is designated as a jamming space.
  • In the breezeway between SIFF and the Vera Project
  • On the South and West sides of SIFF
  • Handicap access to any venue
  • Outside of Hospitality (this is a jamming area)
  • Please note: Street Performer Coordinators have the authority to relocate Performers at their discretion

Performer Rotation

You must be prepared to rotate your space. Each group is allowed to play for up to 45 minutes, with a 30-minute break between sets. Street Performer Coordinator will intervene if necessary.

Crowd Control

You are responsible for your own crowd control. Your audience cannot block traffic. You may in no way cause public inconvenience or jeopardize safety.


You may not erect any structure, rack, display case or sign that cannot be contained in a conventional musical instrument case.


All equipment must be removed from the grounds each night.

Loud Instruments

Locations for loud instruments (e.g.: percussion, brass instruments or bagpipes) are extremely limited. Three suggestions are:

  • On the Thomas Street walkway across from the Space Needle entrance
  • The base of the West Key Arena steps (when the Arena is not in use)
  • On Thomas, just East of the Space Needle loading dock.

Sound Levels

The Street Performer Coordinators are equipped with decibel meters. Street performers are asked to monitor their sound levels to make sure they are not interfering with activities or other performers, including scheduled performances. Street performers must not exceed a decibel meter reading of 85 decibels, with the meter held 10 feet from the performer. All drum kits must be muffled.


No amplification is allowed.  This includes, but is not limited to, voice/instrument amplifiers, boom boxes, pre-recorded music, and microphones.

Unauthorized Activities

  • Fire is not allowed on Northwest Folklife grounds. This includes, but is not limited to ground fires, juggling and fire dancing.
  • Juggling knives, swords, sharp sticks or other objects deemed dangerous is strictly prohibited. All dangerous activity will be stopped. Failure to comply will result in a call to the Seattle Police Department and removal from the grounds.
  • Attaching any equipment, fliers or other material to trees, shrubs or other greenery is strictly prohibited.
  • Exotic pets are not allowed on Seattle Center grounds.

We look forward to seeing you at the Northwest Folklife Festival!