Northwest Folklife Festival goes virtual this weekend

It's been a Seattle Memorial Weekend tradition for almost 50 years, but this year it's going to be different

May 22, 2020
Empty Seattle Center

zhudifeng / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The Northwest Folklife Festival has been a Seattle tradition at Seattle Center since 1972. Unlike Bumbershoot over Labor Day Weekend or the mammoth Sasquatch Festival which used to happen out at the Gorge, it was the most chill of music festivals. It had kind of an old-hippie vibe for a long time, and in more recent years they've evolved it into a chance for people to get a taste of music from parts of the world they might not typically be exposed to. But still, chill.

It was the first place my 8-month-old son sat -- well, crawled -- in a crowd and saw live music. Here we are in 2012:

John and Dawson at Folklife
Madame X

And a nice Folklife tradition has been the fact that they asked for a modest "suggested donation" to get in, not the mandatory and ever-more-pricey admission that made Bumbershoot out of reach for a lot of budget-minded music fans.

Well, like so many other beloved events and traditions around here, Northwest Folklife won't be happening IRL this year, but they've gone virtual. As they explain it on their website

From Home to Home: Northwest Folklife Festival is a virtual festival that features multiple program channels and a virtual marketplace that will bring together local culture bearers, artists, creatives, sponsors, and merchants all on one platform.

Some of the "channels" you can check out online include Folklife Premieres (a livestream of premiered music and dance performances from Pacific Northwest artists,) a livestream featuring interactive dances such as contra, salsa, and more, On-Demand: Music & Dance -- artist-submitted videos spanning music, dance, storytelling, and more, prerecorded music and dance performances to get your kids moving and learning, and the Virtual Marketplace with more than 30 local jewelry, decor, apparel, food, and craft merchants with direct links to their online shops.

There's lots more, and just like the in-person festival, there's a "suggested donation" to enjoy all that content, all weekend long.

Here's the website.

Kudos to the Northwest Folklife Festival for at least trying to deliver some of the flavor of this longtime tradition to people who may be hunkered down at home, and here's hoping it all returns to the real world next year.