Northwest Folklife Festival
Since 1972, the annual Northwest Folklife Festival has been a community-powered celebration of arts, culture, and heritage that make up the brilliant cultural tapestry of the greater Pacific Northwest! Created for and by 150+ Community Coordinators, the festival hosts over 6,000 artists and culture bearers across 25 stages and 200 food and craft vendors annually. The festival remains one of the largest community-powered festivals in the nation.
The 51st Annual Northwest Folklife Festival will take place on Memorial Day Weekend (May 27-30, 2022) in person at the Seattle Center and online at nwfolklife.org/festival.
Our Big Neighborhood
Our Big Neighborhood is an intergenerational, multicultural exchange aimed to develop minds and bodies through movement, rhythm, food, craft and storytelling. Our mission is to empower artists by giving them a platform to share their art, their craft, and their culture with the community. Through partnerships with businesses, organizations, and everyday folx throughout Washington State, Our Big Neighborhood reveals that folklife happens every day—in customs, conventions, and practices that we live out actively and subconsciously, and the interactions that evolve those traditions on a regular basis.
Central to the values of Northwest Folklife is for communities to have voice and agency in the representation of their cultural expressions. More than 150+ Community Coordinators—including prominent artists, educators, culture bearers, and leaders throughout the region—work closely with Northwest Folklife to co-create and co-curate programs including the Northwest Folklife Festival as well as the annual Cultural Focus and Our Big Neighborhood youth and family program. Throughout the year, Community Coordinators work in partnership to co-curate programs that are by the people, for the people that present the diversity of cultures and traditions within the region.
Annual Cultural Focus
Each year, Northwest Folklife presents a Cultural Focus, a year-round exploration of a Pacific Northwest community through curated performances, panels, workshops, exhibitions, demonstrations, and educational materials. This program allows Northwest Folklife to connect in-depth with the communities we serve while supporting the cultivation of their artistic expressions and cultural traditions.
Northwest Folklife’s 2022 Cultural Focus, Metamorphosis: In with the Old, In with the New, celebrates people’s natural propensity for change. This year we explore themes of transition, transformation, and growth–themes central to the folk lineage and process.
Cultural and Creative Workforce Development
Northwest Folklife, in collaboration with the Office of Economic Development and the Office of Arts and Culture, has developed a pilot program that provides paid internships for Seattle’s young creatives. The Cultural and Creative Workforce Development Program (CCWD) directly responds to the expressed interests of young people for hands-on, creatively-centered work experiences. In addition to skills training and mentorship, interns have regular check-ins, cohort meetings and guest speakers as a part of a comprehensive approach to developing their depth of knowledge, understanding of career pathways and professional networks.
Our Public Archive includes culture bearers and craft-makers of various disciplines in the Pacific Northwest, helping us stay connected and grounded by nurturing our roots as well as our curiosity about the many cultural traditions and practices we live amongst.