Northwest Folklife 


Northwest Folklife is a year-round organization that creates opportunities for all to celebrate, share, and participate in the evolving cultural traditions of the Pacific Northwest, most notably through the Northwest Folklife Festival held annually at Seattle Center.

The Pacific Northwest is home to an extraordinary group of communities—ethnic, familial, occupational, religious, and regional. We reach out to engage, 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.

Mission Statement
Northwest Folklife creates opportunities for all to celebrate, share, and participate in the evolving cultural traditions of the Pacific Northwest.

Vision Statement
Strengthening our communities through arts & culture.
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Northwest Folklife
305 Harrison Street 
(206) 684-7300 

Robert Townsend 
Executive Director 


Northwest Folklife Programs

Northwest Folklife Festival 
Each year, on Memorial Day Weekend, we present the Northwest Folklife Festival at Seattle Center. The Festival has grown to be the largest community-powered arts celebration in the United States and a signature event in the Pacific Northwest. It presents the talents of more than 5,000 musicians, dancers, storytellers, and craftspeople from the region and engages audiences in an array of participatory activities, creating a multicultural celebration that enriches, educates, and inspires. There is no admission charge thanks to your donations.

Folklife Presents
A concert series that allows Folklife to provide additional performance opportunities for Northwest artists.  Northwest Folklife programming staff works to pair artists from diverse musical genres in new ways, expanding the definition of “folk” for its audiences.

Crossroads Cultural Dance Series
A Participatory Dance series that showcases diverse cultural dance styles from around the Northwest region. The Crossroads series offers people of all ages and abilities the chance to learn a new dance step and meet their />

Seattle Children's Festival

Northwest Folklife’s Seattle Children's Festival is a one-day, multicultural participatory event to be held in October 11, 2015 at Seattle Center for the second year.


Recent Successes and Current Challenges

The 2014 Cultural Focus was India and its People. The 43rd Annual Northwest Folklife Festival was a huge success with over 235,000 attendees. More than 5000 performers entertained enthusiastic crowds in 22 venues with 65 different genres of music, dance, crafts and an expansive variety of traditional arts. Cultural Focus events beyond the Festival comprised films, performances and a culinary program.

Our 2015 Cultural Focus is Beats, Rhymes and Rhythms: Traditional Roots of Today’s Branches, exploring the cross-cultural roots of arts expressions that have evolved into contemporary cultures today, specifically the traditional roots of Hip Hop: African and Latin traditional dance, the blues, gospel songs and spirituals, scat-singing of the early jazz days, African-American street culture, word battles, and socially conscious songwriting. Hip Hop has been part of the Folklife Festival program since 1994.

Northwest Folklife continues year-round programming with our third annual series of free community cultural dance events at Crossroads Mall in Bellevue.

We believe that everyone is a bearer of folk arts and that it is as important to participate in the arts as it is to observe them. By creating venues and means to share in cultural practices, we dissolve misunderstandings, break down stereotypes and increase respect for one another. We seek allies and supporters that value arts and culture as a solution to social disparities.

Our greatest challenge is helping people understand that ‘folklife’ is the everyday and intimate creativity that all of us share and pass on to the next generation, and that Northwest Folklife is an organization that engages artists, cultural communities and audiences all year-round.


Grant History with The Seattle Foundation:

Grants Awarded through The Seattle Foundation Grantmaking Program:

12/14/2006 $10,000.00support general operating expenses.


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