The Fremont Solstice Parade is one of the most unusual and beloved neighborhood events in Seattle. Held every June and put on by the Fremont Arts Council, the parade and the Fremont Fair are on the weekend closest to the summer solstice, and-rain or shine-they bring out people from around Seattle who want to celebrate the arrival of summer in one of the quirkiest ways you'll ever see.
The best-known aspect of the weekend in Fremont is not officially part of the parade and festival at all, though it's always a favorite among spectators. The Solstice Cyclists, also known as the painted cyclists or the naked cyclists, kick off the weekend with a (mostly) naked bike ride right before the parade starts. The event began years ago when streakers crashed the event, but over time it has developed into one of the most artistic aspects of the weekend. Although a few cyclists wear bathing suits or underpants, most are au naturel, and all are covered in intricate and beautifully done body-paintings.
The parade itself kicks off around noon, and it's unique as well-printed words and logos are banned, as are motorized vehicles and any kind of advertisements. The result is a lively affair full of music, dancing, and creative expression. The parade features artists, dance troupes, musical groups, local clubs, and activist organizations, all of whom create floats or put on performances to entertain the crowds.
The Fremont Fair is held Saturday and Sunday, and it includes food, a beer garden, live music, and an incredible array of performers. Typically these include dancers, Shakespeare on the Troll, and Gay Bingo. Grassroots community groups are also present, usually focusing on local initiatives or ecological education. All together, the event puts on some of the best music in Seattle.
The Fremont neighborhood's official motto, "Delibertus Quirkus," meaning Freedom to Be Peculiar, is fully on display at this annual event. Whether you're a Seattle native or simply on a vacation in Washington, it's well worth attending this lively event, and in the spirit of the parade, everyone is always welcome.
To see all of the Fremont Solstice Parade photos from the 2010 event, check out Destination360's Facebook fan page.