Editor’s note: Updated for Seafair 2022, when summer events have come back in all of their glory!
I’ve always loved Seafair, Seattle’s multilayered summer festival, from the time I sold Seafair pins as a 15-year-old. With eight official Seafair-sponsored events and dozens of Seafair Foundation-sanctioned community events in July and August, it’s a feast for all of the senses.
The signature events are the Torchlight Parade July 30 (2022) and the Hydroplane Races and Air Show Aug. 5-7. Beware that these are huge happenings with lots of crowds and traffic. There also are many smaller, local events (all summer long) that might be better suited for children.
Here is the full list of Seafair-related community events.
Note: Torchlight is a week before the rest of the big Seafair festivities. The annual evening parade is expecting more than 100 entries, from dragon dancers to drill teams, marching bands and prancing horses. Festivities begin at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 30, in downtown Seattle. Route and more details here.
Go to the Seattle waterfront to see a parade of ships from the US. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marines and Royal Canadian Navy with military aircraft aloft, and then come aboard for free ship tours. Monday through Friday, Aug. 1-5.
Look up! It’s the Blue Angels!
The prestigious and always exciting Navy precision flying team will be visible in the skies over the Seattle area several times over the weekend. Here is the schedule, subject to adjustment, of course:
Thursday, August 4: Various practice flights between about 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 5: Practice flight, 3-4 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 6-7: Blue Angels main performance over Lake Washington, 3-4 p.m.
See the Blue Angels planes and pilots up close during this weekend festival at The Museum of Flight.
This popular event runs 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 6-7, and features fast planes, live music, food trucks, a beer garden and family activities. Museum admission is required, so you can also enjoy the indoor exhibits, including more on the Blue Angels and the new “The Walt Disney Studios and World War II.”
The event also features nearly two dozen Chevy Corvettes, plus other local organizations focused on planes, trains, automobiles and ships.
This is the biggie, where fans pack Genessee Park and the log boom to watch the hydroplane races on Lake Washington and the Blue Angels performance overhead each afternoon.
Pro tip: Use transit if possible. Fans arriving via Link light rail can get off at the Columbia Center Station and use free shuttle service to and from Genesee Park; shuttles from 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Seafair events elsewhere, 2022
Although Seafair community parades require you to sign up early in July to be an official entrant, several welcome children and families to join in on the day of the event at no cost.
Parents are encouraged to march with smaller children in local parades. Strollers, bikes, trikes and wagons can be decorated as little floats. Bring sunglasses and sunscreen and a spray bottle to mist your children. Pack water and snacks, as it might be a while between the time you turn up at the staging area and your child’s turn to march. It’s fun to bring wrapped candy or treats to give to the crowd. Many parade organizers ask that candy be rolled or given to children along the parade route, rather than thrown.
The West Seattle Grand Parade at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 23, includes pirates, floats, dancers, motorcycles, marching bands more. Catch it as it heads down California Avenue Southwest in the Admiral district from Lander to Edmonds.
Waterland Festival and Parade, Des Moines, July 22-24, 2022. Highlights include a Friday evening barbecue and concert, an afternoon parade on Saturday, kids’ events in the Beach Park on Saturday and Sunday, and a car show.
More big events Aug. 5-7
Celebrate the African diaspora with music, food, culture and family fun at Umoja Fest. This big, three-day event is centered around Judkins Park. It includes lots of music, the Heal The Hood Basketball Tournament, special kids’ events, food trucks, vendors, community resources and more.
This neighborhood event will include a parade, music, crafts, games, food trucks and an outdoor movie, among other things!
The crown jewel of Magnolia Summerfest? The annual Kids Parade, which prefaces the spectacular Magnolia Seafair Parade. Encourage your kids to reinvent themselves entirely or dress up as their favorite characters, animals or entities. Then simply show up at 9:45 a.m. at the corner of 34th Avenue West and West Raye Street in Magnolia to join the parade. The kids march starts at 10 a.m., followed by the larger Magnolia Seafair Parade at 10:30 a.m
The Lake City Summer Festival and Parade on Saturday, Aug. 6, brings people together for art, a car show, big trucks to climb on, food and more. Three parades (!) in the evening cap off the day: a kids’ parade at 6 p.m., dog parade at 6:30 and grand parade down Lake City Way at 7 p.m.
Photo courtesy of Seafair
In addition to the usual street fair, food and parade, Kla Ha Ya Days includes a circus, a ‘frogtastic’ kids’ carnival, a baby crawl and kids’ dash, a treasure hunt, pie and watermelon eating contests, helicopter rides and so much more. July 15-17, 2022.
Lanterns glow against an indigo sky as costumed dancers weave down the street to the hypnotic beat of taiko drums. Most people join in with the dancers – kimonos or other Japanese clothing optional. The festival also features Japanese food, taiko and martial arts performances, craft demonstrations and – new this year – an anime exhibition. July 16, 2022.1427 S. Main St., Seattle.
Wenda Reed is a veteran editor and writer who has been covering Seattle parenting for more than 20 years.