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Originally published May 9, 2014 at 4:32 PM | Page modified May 13, 2014 at 11:31 AM

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Summer Guide: Seattle’s Top 10 summer events

Here’s help sifting through the countless festivals and fairs of Seattle’s warmest months.

We Seattleites treasure summer. We gratefully watch sunshine dry the mud in our gardens. We peel off layers of fleece and soak up our 12-month dosage of vitamin D. Pallidly squinting, we wander among friends and declare, “It doesn’t get better than this!”

And we cram a year’s worth of festivals and special events into 90 days.

It’s a lot to sift through. Whether you’re new to town, stepping out again for the first time in a while, or just sightseeing from Fresno or Fargo, you’ll find help in this list of the top 10 events of Seattle’s summer. Here’s our selection, in chronological order.


Michael FitzPatrick of Vashon, center, makes a golden sword for Mack Dowling, 2, of Spokane, at last year's University District StreetFair.

1 University District StreetFair

It began as a community-building effort among agonizing Vietnam-war protests of 1970 and claims to be the longest-running street fair in the United States. Conceived in a bonding of love beads and macramé (and you’ll still find some of the offspring in the art stalls), the U District fair remains one of Seattle’s more patchouli-scented public gatherings. It’s also the de facto kickoff event for our summer, with crowds of University of Washington students shedding Gore-Tex to welcome the sun god (if he shows up) and get henna tattoos. Buskers galore, fire-eaters and more. May 17-18, 2014, on University Way from Northeast Campus Parkway to Northeast 50th Street . Free.

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Marcus Fire, of Olympia, plays a didgeridoo at last year's Northwest Folklife Festival. The festival happens Memorial Day weekend.

2 Northwest Folklife Festival

Two years younger than the StreetFair, Folklife (as it’s known casually among its spry, gray-bearded founders) started with banjo pickers and folk dancers from Northwest grange halls and grew to embrace world cultures — all with a local cast of performers, and always free if that’s all you can afford. These days it draws about a quarter-million visitors to Seattle Center every Memorial Day weekend, with more than 6,000 volunteer performers from across the region. Expect hip-hop MCs, Irish cloggers, Middle Eastern dancers, bluegrass fiddlers, West African drummers, ska bands and more. The special cultural focus for 2014: India. May 23-26, 2014, Seattle Center. Free, or suggested daily donation of $10/person or $20 per family.

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Body paint and bubbles are all that cover some cyclists leading 2013's Solstice Parade.

3 Fremont Fair and Solstice Parade

Fremont had a lot more cred as Seattle’s wackiest neighborhood (welcome signs still say “set your watch ahead 5 minutes”) before a big Chase Bank replaced the cozy old Greek restaurant. But free spirits still hit the streets on summer solstice weekend. While you’ve likely heard of the naked (body-painted) cyclists who lead the Solstice Parade there’s lots more going on among the clothed populace, ranging from a public yoga workout to the Art Car Blowout to a dog parade. Fremont Fair, June 20-22, 2014, free; donations welcomed. Fremont neighborhood (around North 36th Street at Fremont Avenue North); Solstice Parade, 3 p.m. June 21; .

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The "Dykes on Bikes" motorcycle group leads Seattle's 2013 Pride Parade. This year's parade is June 29.

4 Seattle Pride Parade and PrideFest

Seattle’s Pride celebration turns 40 this year, and in one of the first states to establish marriage equality at the ballot box, Washington’s LGBT community has even more reason to be loud and proud these days. Topping that, the adored-by-his-fans George Takei (“rhymes with gay,” he says), aka Mr. Sulu from “Star Trek,” is the celebrity grand marshal for this year’s colorful Pride Parade. Parade, 11 a.m. June 29, 2014, on Fourth Avenue from Union Street to Denny Way, Seattle.

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Fireworks light up Lake Union during Seattle's 2013 Fourth of July celebration.

5 Fourth of July, Seattle and Bellevue

Seattle does the Fourth up right: rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air over Lake Union, with a view of the Space Needle. Pre-fireworks partying, with sack races (among other games), live music and more at Gas Works Park, continues this year under the aegis of Seafair. Seafair Summer Fourth expands the event for the first time to Lake Union Park (on the lake’s south end) with premium food and wine and reserved seating if you want to get fancy. Or just bring your picnic to Gas Works as always. Bellevue has its own flashy fireworks over Bellevue Downtown Park, with food, games and live music. Seafair Summer Fourth, noon-11 p.m. July 4, 2014, Gas Works Park, 2101 N. Northlake Way, and Lake Union Park, 860 Terry Ave. N., Seattle. Mostly free. . The Bellevue Collection Bellevue Family 4th, events begin 2 p.m. July 4, 2014, Bellevue Downtown Park, 10201 N.E. Fourth St., Bellevue. Mostly free.

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In front of Seattle Center's International Fountain, Junea Rocha takes a taste at last year's Bite of Seattle. This year's Bite is July 18-20.

6 Bite of Seattle

Does anybody really have to twist your arm to spend a midsummer’s day noshing on good eats in the shadow of the Space Needle while taking breaks to dodge spraying nozzles of the Seattle Center’s International Fountain? You’ll find more than 30 restaurant booths, more than 20 sidewalk vendors, plus food trucks and 15 more restaurants represented in The Alley, where you get a full multicourse “taste” meal for $10. And to cater to health-concious Seattle, each restaurant will offer at least one vegetarian, low-fat or reduced-calorie item. Live music on five stages. July 18-20, 2014, Seattle Center. Free admission, pay for what you eat.

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Glass work is just one of many crafts on display at the Bellevue ARTSfair.

7 Bellevue ARTSfair

The Bellevue Arts Museum ARTSfair is the modern-day descendant of a long-pedigreed juried fine-arts and crafts show on the suburban Eastside, and it continues to draw artists and their fans from across the West. But a good thing can’t be contained; two additional arts and crafts fairs have sprung up on the fringes, bringing throngs to downtown Bellevue on a weekend when statistics say the Seattle area is most likely to have sunshine. July 25-27, 2014, Bellevue Square mall and Bellevue Arts Museum, downtown Bellevue. Free.

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A hydroplane roostertail frames sun-loving fans on the log boom during last year's Seafair races on Lake Washington.

8 Seafair hydroplane races and air show

The big news for this year is that after a sequestration sabbatical the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels jet team is back at Lake Washington this August, giving the unlimited hydroplanes on Lake Washington some stiff competition for the wow factor. It’s a weekend of roostertails and rushes (as in “feel the ...”) as jets scream overhead and Seafair’s famed thunderboats thrill crowds on shore and in boats along the log boom. NASCAR good-buddies, eat your hearts out ­— nobody does this like Seattle. Beer gardens, food vendors, Kids Zone, waterslide and grandstand seating onshore. Aug. 1-3, 2014, on Lake Washington and in and around Genesee Park, 4316 S. Genesee St., Seattle. Admission varies by day; $35 at gate on Sunday, day of Seafair Cup race. .

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Fans cheer for the performance art band Beats Antique at last year's Bumbershoot music and arts festival. Bumbershoot happens Aug. 30-Sept. 1 this year.

9 Bumbershoot

If Seattle’s summer has bookends, Memorial Day’s Folklife Festival is at the beginning and Labor Day’s Bumbershoot arts fest is at the far end, propping up our memories of sailing, hiking, sweaty bike rides and other seasonal sagas. Once again, Seattle Center is the center of it all, in a festival chock full of music, visual arts, live theater and “words and ideas” (which can mean a reading by Northwest novelist Tom Robbins, or a panel of writers from “The Simpsons”). Always quality, often big names — and sometimes it rains, thus the umbrella reference. See the lineup. Aug. 30-Sept. 1, 2014, Seattle Center. Admission varies by date of purchase, see website:

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At Puyallup's fairgrounds, expect large livestock such as Bill Jarcho's chicken. The 2014 Washington State Fair is Sept. 5-21.

10 Washington State Fair

They gussied up the name last fall to become our state fair, but to fair lovers it will always be “The Puyallup” (and “you can do it at a trot, you can do it at a gallop,” as the jingle always went). The big fair to Seattle’s south is swell no matter what you call it. It has all the best of an old-fashioned country exhibition, from the giant pumpkin contest to draft-horse demonstrations to the endearingly homespun Hobby Hall (how many Peanuts-character lunchboxes are in your collection?). And you can also get your guts shaken out by thrill rides, eat a hot Fisher scone with jam or hear a concert by whatever group isn’t booked in the tribal casinos. Sept. 5-21, 2014, Washington State Fair Events Center, Puyallup, $9-$12.50 admission.

Brian J. Cantwell: Blogging at­northwesttraveler. On Twitter: @NWTravelers

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Find more entertainment ideas in our Summer Guide:

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