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50 Years of Northwest Folklife

  • Northwest Folklife is Founded

    Northwest Folklife was founded in 1971 by the Seattle Folklore Society, the National Park Service, the National Folk Festival Association (now the National Council for the Traditional Arts), and the City of Seattle, as part of the Park Service's urban outreach program to allow the people of its Northwest Region (including Alaska) to publicly present what they "make for their own use and do for their own entertainment."
  • First Northwest Folklife Festival

    First Northwest Folklife Festival
    In 1972, the Seattle Folklore Society gathered the community at Seattle Center to celebrate folk arts and heritage. The first festival attracted upwards of 123,000 community members.
  • KRAB-FM Broadcasts Northwest Folklife Festival Live for Three Days

    KRAB-FM Broadcasts Northwest Folklife Festival Live for Three Days
    KRAB's first Northwest Folklife Festival broadcast was in 1974, two years after the first festival, and was inspired by co-founder, Phil Williams' idea to broadcast the festival. KRAB's live coverage of the 3rd Annual Northwest Regional Folklife Festival brought 30 hours of live music from over 50 different performers.
  • Cultural Focus Themes Deepen Relationships with Community Partners

    Cultural Focus Themes Deepen Relationships with Community Partners
    Since 1991, Northwest Folklife has engaged a Northwest community to showcase as part of the cultural focus throughout the year. The annual Cultural Focus is highlighted in all-year-round programming, including the Northwest Folklife Festival in May. Working with a Cultural Focus Committee, programs are curated to best highlight the year’s focus through live music, dance, art, food, panels, and community gatherings. Learn More
  • 25th Annual Northwest Folklife Festival

    Northwest Folklife celebrates its 25th anniversary with 6,000 participants featuring cultural heritages of more than 100 countries through music, exhibits, demonstrations, workshops, and children’s activities.
  • Origins of Pete Seeger' Labor Chorus

    Origins of Pete Seeger' Labor Chorus
    When Pete Seeger was scheduled to speak at a labor conference at UW, he mentioned he would also perform at Seattle Center should the organizers provide him a labor chorus to accompany him. On May 23, he opened the festivities at the Flag Plaza. His most memorable performance took place at the Mural Amphitheater, where he performed alongside his labor chorus. Info courtesy of Seattle Weekly. [Learn More(seattleweekly.com/marketplace/the-moments-that-define-northwest-folklifes-modern-era/)
  • Northwest Folklife Wins Mayor's Arts Awards

    In its 35th year, Northwest Folklife was selected as the winner of the Mayor's Arts Awards. The award was accepted by Northwest Folklife's Executive Director, Michael Herschensohn, who took the helm of Northwest Folklife in 1998. Learn More
  • 2010 Cultural Focus: Northwest Folklife is Community!

    2010 Cultural Focus: Northwest Folklife is Community!
    Thirteen groups that have become important to the Festival over the past 39 years (African American Gospel, All Ages, Bluegrass, Croatian, Filipino, FolkFloor Volunteers, Hungarian, Indian Dance, Jewish, New Old-Time, Northwest Folk Dancers, Inc., Ukrainian, Washington State Fiddle & Dance)
  • 2011 Cultural Focus: Northwest Stories

  • 2012 Cultural Focus: 50th Anniversary of Seattle Center and Its Legacy

    2012 Cultural Focus: 50th Anniversary of Seattle Center and Its Legacy
    Celebrating "The Next Fifty: A Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Seattle Center and Its Legacy".
  • 2013 Cultural Focus: Washington Works

    2013 Cultural Focus: Washington Works
    Washington Works explores the ways people in our state make a living, with a special emphasis on union jobs, and celebrates the history of labor organizing, and Washington state has one of the largest union workforces in the country.
  • First Seattle Children's Festival

    First Seattle Children's Festival
    The first-ever Seattle Children’s Festival, celebrating local communities and families together, launches to celebrate “Our Big Neighborhood.”
  • 2014 Cultural Focus: India and It's People

    2014 Cultural Focus: India and It's People
    The 2014 Northwest Folklife Festival celebrates India, its ancient history, unique heritage steeped in traditional arts, and its people, many of which have traveled from the country of their origin to various parts of the world taking with them the message of their culture. [Link text]https://www.nwfolklife.org/programs/cultural-focus/india-and-its-people.html
  • 2015 Traditional Roots of Hip Hop

    2015 Traditional Roots of Hip Hop
    The 2015 Cultural Focus: Traditional Roots of Hip Hop explores the cross-cultural roots of arts expressions that have evolved into contemporary cultures today, specifically examining the traditional roots of Hip Hop. Learn More
  • Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Becomes Northwest Folklife's First Presenting Sponsor

    Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Becomes Northwest Folklife's First Presenting Sponsor
    Seattle Cancer Care Alliance comes on as Northwest Folklife's first-ever presenting sponsor and has remained a committed supporter since. [Photo by Christopher Nelson]
  • 2016 Power of the Human Voice through Song

    2016 Power of the Human Voice through Song
    Power of the Human Voice through Song celebrates singing as one of the most natural means of human communication and expression. Songs play an essential part of the social fabric of cultures – every ritual a community shares calls for its own song: birth, marriage, death, the planting and harvest, the coming of spring and fertility, the changing of the seasons. Learn More
  • Northwest Folklife Adopts Dual Leadership Model

    Northwest Folklife’s Board of Directors restructured the professional management of the organization to include a dual leadership model. This change reflects the organization’s vision and mission as an arts and cultural organization that is community-powered and committed to operating at the highest levels of administrative and financial stability and sustainability.
  • 2017 Cultural Focus: Festál Turns 20

    2017 Cultural Focus: Festál Turns 20
    As Festál Turns 20 in 2017, Northwest Folklife celebrates the ground-breaking, community-organizing work for which Festál is known.Learn More
  • Circle of Indigenous Peoples Celebration

    Circle of Indigenous Peoples Celebration
    Beginning in 2017, the Northwest Folklife Festival has had participation from Northwest Native communities, in part through Northwest Folklife’s continuing partnership with the Circle of Indigenous Peoples. The COIP is based in the rich collective of Native tribal members in Seattle and Washington State, with a goal to broaden the reach to other Native and First Nation communities in the Pacific Northwest. Learn More [Photo by Christopher Nelson]
  • Launch of Our Big Neighborhood Program

    Launch of Our Big Neighborhood Program
    In partnership with Seattle Center, Northwest Folklife expanded its youth and family programs with the creation of Our Big Neighborhood, an umbrella program featuring 5 year-round events including Movin' Around the World: Winter, Movin' Around the World: Spring, Global Playground, Seattle Children's Festival, and Our Big Neighborhood at Seattle Center Winterfest. Learn More [Photo by Erinn J Hale]
  • Launch of Youth Residencies

    Launch of Youth Residencies
    The creation of Próxima Generación—a youth residency which provides a space for Latinx-identifying youth to collaborate, share ideas, and explore their artistic expressions—was built directly from collaborating with Mexican American/Chicana/o tradition-bearers through Northwest Folklife’s 2018 program, Echoes of Aztlan and Beyond. Learn More
  • 2018 Cultural Focus: Echoes of Aztlán and Beyond

    2018 Cultural Focus: Echoes of Aztlán and Beyond
    The 2018 Cultural Focus showcased, preserved, and recognized traditional and popular arts and culture in Mexican American and Chicana/o communities in our region. This program will explore what it means to be Mexican and Chicana/o, from exploring the indigenous roots to immigration, to the building of communities and to envisioning the future. Learn More
  • Celebrating Vivian Williams' 80th Birthday at the Northwest Folklife Festival

    Celebrating Vivian Williams' 80th Birthday at the Northwest Folklife Festival
    At this year's Northwest Folklife Festival, we celebrated Northwest Folklife co-founder Vivian Williams' 80th birthday, surrounded by Friends of Folklife and loved ones. [Photo by Christopher Nelson]
  • Pastor Pat Wright's Last Performance with the Total Experience Gospel Choir

    Pastor Pat Wright's Last Performance with the Total Experience Gospel Choir
    After performing at the Northwest Folklife Festival for over 30 years, the beloved Pastor Pat Wright (known as Seattle's "First Lady of Gospel") took the stage one last time with the Total Experience Gospel Choir before her retirement. In honor of her legacy, The Patrinell Team created the documentary Patrinell: The Total Experience to shed light on her extraordinary contributions to the community. [Photo by Christopher Nelson]
  • 2019 Cultural Focus: Youth Rising

    2019 Cultural Focus: Youth Rising
    Youth Rising, a year-long program featuring peer mentorship, youth residencies, a series of youth-organized performances and events, and opportunities for creative collaborations. Youth Rising is a platform for the voices of youth leaders, artists, musicians, and changemakers. Youth Rising celebrates and amplifies youth voices from around the region. Learn More
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  • 2020 Cultural Focus: Living Legacies

    2020 Cultural Focus: Living Legacies
    Northwest Folklife celebrates the stories and traditions of the region that serve as the foundation behind our organization and work. Learn More
  • 50 Years of Northwest Folklife

    50 Years of Northwest Folklife