Washington's 2018 Summer Music Festival Guide


cover photo: Ville Magazine | Chance the Rapper at Sasquatch! 2017

The warm weather and sunshine has finally arrived in the PNW.  Not only is it a sign that summer is right around the corner, but the 2018 music festival season is soon to kick off as well.

The PNW has a bevy of festivals to choose from to suit the tastes of any music lover and festival goer. As exciting it would be to go to them all, it most likely won't be an option. So which do you choose? What makes one festival different from another? Here's a quick guide to help pick your preference of the biggest music festivals our region has to offer.

Sasquatch! Music Festival

2017 Sasquatch! Music Festival
May 25th - May 27th @ Gorge Amphitheater

Headliners: Vince Staples, Lizzo, Tyler, The Creator, Bon Iver, Modest Mouse, The National, explosions in the Sky, David Byrne

It can be said Sasquatch! Music Festival kicks off the Northwest festival season much like Memorial Day Weekend sets the beginning of summer. Held at the Gorge Amphitheater, Sasquatch! is a melting pot of genre music from indie, experimental and alternative rock to electronica to hip-hop that is performed at one of nature's most beautiful backdrops. The best way to experience Sasquatch! is to commit to all three days and stay in the general admission campgrounds. It's there where small parties happening are all day and into the wee hours of the night between your favorite music sets.

Upstream Music Fest + Summit

upstream musicfest 2017
June 1st - June 3rd @ Pioneer Square Neighborhood

Headliners: Miguel, Little Dragon, Superduperkyle, SOL, Kyle Craft and The Helio Sequence

Entering its second year in existence, Upstream Music Fest + Summit is the brainchild of Paul Allen. Its objective is to bring a wide range of music to the heart of Seattle amongst a variety of smaller and more intimate local venues as well as large booming outdoor stages. But what makes this festivals different from others is that the majority of the lineup focuses on local rising artists from the Northwest. Its first year may have seen some small hiccups but proved that the idea of a downtown festival was sound. Remember... sometimes the sequel is better than the first.

Paradiso Festival

paradiso festival 2017
photo: USC Paradiso Festival Facebook

June 15th - June 16th @ Gorge Amphitheater
Headliners: Deadmaus, DJ Snake, Armin Van Buuren, The Crystal Method, Troiboi, Snails

USC's Paradiso Festival has stamped its mark as the premier electronic dance music event of the year for the PNW. Set against the beauty of the Gorge, the music shares the stage with art instillations and a carnival like atmosphere filled with bright lights and wonder. The bass is echoed throughout the valley to be heard all the way to the campgrounds. Bringing in some of the biggest names in EDM year after year, it's an experience where people go to live their digital life in nature. 

Timber! Summer Music Festival

timber summer music
photo credit: flickr | kingcountyparks

July 12th - July 14th @ Carnation, WA
Headliners: Car Seat Headrest, Kyle Craft, Thao (of the get down stay down), Naked Giants, Brothers from Another, Polyrhythmics

Located in Carnation, WA, held at the Tolt-Mcdonald Park this festival is as much a multi-genre music festival as it is a Northwestern outdoor adventure weekend. When not listening to some amazing music, Timber! Outdoor Music Festival offers a variety of adventures like kayaking, hiking, paddle boarding, games and painting classes to entertain the whole family.

Capitol Hill Block Party

capitol hill block party 2017
July 20th - July 22nd @ Capitol Hill Neighborhood

Headliners: Father John Misty, Dillon Francis, Brockhampton, Cashmere Cat, Bully, Ryan Caraveo

CHBP is the biggest music festival spread out in the smallest festival space - two blocks of Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. Multiple outdoor and indoor stages mean there's always a band to hear. Besides the music, one of the best aspects of the CHBP is the abundance of cheap food and drink. With the festival being held amongst so many varied bars and eateries, everyone is vying for your dollar with drink and food specials running all festival long. They even have the ability to purchase your tickets on a payment plan so you don’t have to drop your dough all at once, which opens this festival up to many more folks.

Summer Meltdown

Summer Meltdown 2017
photo credit: Summer Meltdown Facebook | Jason Charme Photography

August 2nd - August 5th @ Darrington, WA
Headliners: Bassnectar, Big Gigantic, Lettuce, Twiddle, Dave B, Manatee Commune

Ninety minutes outside of Seattle rests the seemingly normally town of Darrington, WA. Once a year this town opens its welcoming arms to the tens of thousands festival goers looking for several days packed full of festivities and music. Summer Meltdown is the largest locally produced festival in the Northwest. Held at the Bluegrass Association's amphitheater, the energetic music dances amongst the multiple musical stages. Unlike most music festivals, Summer Meltdown is a family friendly festival that includes a kids zone and offers adventures like horseback riding and helicopter rides.

Watershed Country Music Festival

Watershed 2017
photo: Watershed Festival Facebook

August 3rd - August 5th @ Gorge Amphitheater
Headliners: Big and Rich, Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Cassadee Pope, Clint Black, Locash

Watershed may be the best and biggest country music festival this side of the Mason Dixon line. Even if you're not a country fan, Watershed is also considered the best party atmosphere of the entire year. Also held at the Gorge, Watershed closes out the Gorge's summer lineup of events, selling out year after year. With having one of the most welcoming and fun loving crowds, there is a party around every camp site. PNW country music fans may not have many events to call their own, but they do have Watershed that features the biggest names in country music.


bumbershoot 2017
August 31st - September 2nd @ Seattle Center

Headliners: Lineup yet to be announced

One of the “are you a true Seattleite" quizzes is how does someone pronounce "Bum-ber-shoot." If you’re from Seattle you pronounce the B whereas its most common for those not from the area to pronounce it "Bumper-shoot." A bumbershoot is a nickname for an umbrella. It seems like the perfect fit for rainy Seattle - especially during Labor Day weekend. It's one of the few events held at Seattle's iconic location of the 74-acre Seattle Center grounds in a variety of wonderfully artistic ways during the festival in music, comedy, and arts. 

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