Seafair is a festival during the summer in the northwest city of Seattle. Events take place throughout the city, and culminate in the Torchlight Parade, hydroplane races, and aerial performances by jets.
Seafair History and Facts
Today, Seafair is perhaps best known for several main events, even though many community events take place leading up to these key festivities in July. Major events include the impressive hydroplane races (Seafair Cup), the Seafair pirates, the Torchlight Parade and Run, and the airshow put on by the Blue Angels.
Seafair has been occurring in the beautiful city of Seattle since 1950, when it was a ten-day event that showcased the Aqua Theater at Green Lake. The theater was built on the shore of one Green Lake and featured the Aqua Follies, a female synchronized swimming group—that was kind of like the Rockettes of Radio City Music Hall in New York City, but in the water.
This was during the post-World War II period when elaborate Hollywood movies were filled with synchronized dancing and swimming productions. Seafair Seattle has mirrored the times ever since. Along with the Follies, Bob Hope entertained the crowds into the early 1960s. He was followed by Bob Dylan in 1962. Led Zeppelin and Three Dog Night performed in 1969, along with the Grateful Dead fresh off their performance at Woodstock. An important hydroplane competition was also part of the original 1950 festivities. So are the election of a Seafair 2019 Queen (now Miss Seafair), the Milk Carton Derby, and the rivalry between the Seafair Pirates and Seafair Clowns. The aerobatics of the famous US Navy Blue Angels arrived in 1972, and most of these traditions are part of what is today a nearly two-month long celebration.
There are numerous Seafair 2019 festivities and small summer festivals held during these two months in virtually all Seattle neighborhoods. There are, however, several important signature Seafair Seattle events that occur in and around major city attractions. The Seafair Pirates land on beautiful Alki Beach, set on the point that protects the harbor and the city waterfront. The venerable Milk Carton Derby, featuring boats made of empty milk cartons that hopefully float, takes place on the waters of Green Lake. There is a triathlon in one of the city parks, a parade of boats in the harbor, thrilling aerobatics, hydroplane races, and the spectacle of the famous Torchlight Parade that ends in the Seattle Center.
By nature of their very public venues, many of the events are free and don't require tickets. But even with parades, air shows, and boat races, there are better seats to be had for reasonable prices. These might be cheaper bleachers or slightly pricier VIP grandstands. For Seafair Weekend, which includes the most important events (hydroplane races and air show), tickets are required to enter the particular Seattle parks and lakes. You're apt to see the antics of the Seafair Pirates and the Seafair Clowns at just about any place in the city, including in hospitals were they do charitable work throughout the year.
Since Seafair Seattle events occur in so many places around the city and over such an extended period of time, you have a wide variety of choices for your Seattle hotels. There will something suitable for every taste and all budgets, from cheap motels and excellent camping options to luxury hotels and lively casinos. You can try the Greenlake Guest House at 7630 East Green Lake Drive, a lovely bed and breakfast inn with elegant rooms and great viewing for the Milk Carton Derby. Or you can opt for one of the many luxury hotels along the waterfront. Lake Washington is quite large, the second largest lake in the state. There a numerous vacation rentals around its shores, and you can even choose Bellevue hotels on its eastern shores.
Image: joeltelling (flickr)