In May 2017, there are so many fun, free and cheap things to do, we hardly know where to start. The biggest events are the 25-day Seattle International Film Festival beginning May 18, and the Memorial Weekend Folklife Festival at Seattle Center. But there’s lots more: food events, professional sports, several film events, many outdoor events and festivals, and more.
Each month we scour venues in Seattle and around Puget Sound to find worthwhile things to do that don’t cost a bundle. We highlight notable events in arts and entertainment throughout the region. We aim for free events or those that cost $15 or less, but include more expensive events if they are popular or extraordinary.
Find discount entertainment tickets for upcoming shows on our cheap tickets page.
Taco Libre Food Truck Showdown in Fremont. May 7, 2017. Seattle’s outrageously fun taco truck battle in Fremont at the Mobile Food Rodeo on Cinco De Mayo weekend. http://www.mobilefoodrodeo.com/
Polish pierogi festival in Seattle. May 13, 2017. This is the 12th edition of the Festival that brings a great mixture of Polish food and culture. It is a Polish dumpling extravaganza that serves several kinds of pierogi: meat, potato & cheese, plum etc. – get 12 pierogi for $10. Other Polish dishes available as well as Polish beer. Free attractions include: folk group performances, craft workshops (make your own pierogi!) & children activities. You can eat leisurely, listen to Polish music and have a good time. Also available: tea. coffee, soft drinks and desserts. On sale: Polish cutout art, Polish folk costumes, Polish sports scarves. http://www.polishnewsseattle.org/2017/May17.htm#pierogi
Bastyr Herb and Food Fair in Kenmore. May 20, 2017. This free festival brings thousands of visitors to the Bastyr campus. With gardens blooming and the campus forest buzzing with new life, it’s a great time to soak up spring colors and learn about the endless uses of plants. Educational speakers, workshops, cooking demos, food samples, tours of the medicinal herb garden, live music, children’s activities. https://bastyr.edu/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=2453
Penn Cove Water Festival in Coupeville. May 20, 201. The Festival features annual tribal canoe races, Native Arts & Crafts Vendors, storytelling, musical and dance performances, artist demonstrations, authentic Native foods, youth activities, exhibits and displays. http://www.penncovewaterfestival.com/
Hood Canal ShrimpFest in Brinnon, WA. May 27-28, 2017. Hungry shrimpers from all over the Northwest are lured to fish Hood Canal’s rich waters. The festival offers craft booths, food booths, belt sander races, exhibits, live music, kids activities and more. Bring along your favorite decorated belt sander to enter the race. The tides are usually low enough during this weekend for easy harvest of clams and oysters on the public beaches near the festival, (license required) and the weather is traditionally good during this holiday weekend. http://www.brinnonshrimpfest.org/
Seattle Sounders FC home game. Seattle Sounders single game tickets.
- Saturday, May 6, 2017 vs TORONTO FC in SEATTLE
- Saturday, May 20, 2017 vs REAL SALT LAKE in SEATTLE
- Saturday, May 27, 2017 vs PORTLAND TIMBERS in SEATTLE
- Saturday, June 4, 2017 vs HOUSTON DYNAMO in SEATTLE
Seattle Sounders FC away games. Best Seattle bars to watch soccer.
- Saturday, May 13, 2017 at CHICAGO FIRE
- Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at SPORTING KANSAS CITY
- Wednesday, May 31, 2017 at COLUMBUS CREW SC
Take me out to the ballgame!
- How to get discount tickets to Seattle Mariners baseball games
- How to get save on tickets to Tacoma Rainiers minor league baseball games
CenturyLink Field weekend public tours in Seattle. Friday-Saturday, October-May, tours begin at 10:30, 12:30pm and 2:30pm. EVENT COST $14. The hour and a half long tour will entertain and educate everyone who enjoys football and soccer, whether you can’t tell a first down from a touchdown, a goal from a goalie, or you are a die-hard fan. There is no need to make reservations for a public tour, however tours leave promptly. Arrive no less than 30 minutes prior to the tour departure time to purchase your tickets at the Seahawks Pro Shop. Winter tours: http://www.centurylinkfield.com/tour-centurylink-field/
Movies & Filmmaking
The National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY) in Seattle. April 27 – 30. The world’s largest film festival for emerging directors. NFFTY is the premier showcase of the best young directors, age 24 and younger, from around the world. The films of NFFTY represent the voice of this generation, covering all topics and genres, from compelling and provocative, to hilarious and uplifting. https://www.siff.net/year-round-cinema/siffsupports/nffty-2017
Force of Nature 3D Double Feature in Seattle. May 9. September Storm: The last 3D picture filmed in the 1950s, and the first to be released in 3D CinemaScope. Ape: Newly remastered in 3D and HD, the cult classic that needs to be seen to be believed.https://www.siff.net/year-round-cinema/force-of-nature-3d-double-feature-featuring-september-storm-and-ape
The 43rd Annual Seattle International Film Festival runs May 18 – June 11, 2017. More than 400 films from 80 countries. 25 days. 155,000 attendees. Be part of the largest and most highly-attended film festival in the United States. Become a Member to get the lowest prices. Passes $70-$3500. Packages $60-$240. Single tickets go on sale beginning May 4, $7-$14. https://www.siff.net/festival
The Seventh Art Stand in Seattle. May 2017 (dates TBA). Free to the public. An act of cinematic solidarity against Islamophobia. Participating movie theaters and community centers across the U.S. will show films from the countries affected by Islamophobia and the proposed travel ban. The Network of Arab Alternative Screens (NAAS) joins U.S. theaters in this coalitional effort to elevate the cinemas and stories of our friends and fellow filmmakers abroad. It is crucial to build a tradition of sharing more stories, voices, and faces on our screens. The Seventh Art Stand is organized by Abramorama, Northwest Film Forum, and Vivian Hua. https://www.siff.net/year-round-cinema/film-series/seventh-art-stand
- Jazz Festival (Seattle) May 17-20, 2017
- Bluegrass from the Forest Festival in (Shelton, WA) May 19-21, 2017
- Jazz Festival (Edmonds) May 20, 2017
- Northwest Folklife Festival (Seattle) May 26-29, 2017
- Jazz & Blues Festival (Bellevue) May 31 – June 4
Books & Literature
Governor John Kasich in Bellevue. May 2, 2017. When Ohio governor John Kasich ran for president, his powerful message of hope and togetherness struck a chord with American voters. In his book, Two Paths: America Divided or United, he carries that message forward by reflecting on the tumultuous 2016 campaign, sharing his concerns for America and his hopes for our future, and sounding a clarion call to reason and purpose, humility and dignity, righteousness and calm. To be sure, the full story of the 2016 Presidential race will be written over time, but to understand what it was to be on the front lines of one of the most divisive and corrosive campaign battlegrounds in history, readers won’t find a richer, more thoughtful firsthand account than this one–a frank, refreshing assessment of the American dynamic and a clear path we might follow toward a more promising tomorrow. Each $36 ticket includes one copy of Two Paths. http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2933232
Laurie Frankel in conversation with Garth Stein in Seward Park. May 17, 2017. Local authors Laurie Frankel and Garth Stein discuss Frankel’s new book This Is How It Always I, a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it’s about the ways this is how it always is: Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again; parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts; children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever. http://www.thirdplacebooks.com/event/laurie-frankel-conversation-garth-stein
Gun Violence in America: A Discussion with Survivors. May 18. On April 20, 1999, two teenage boys walked into their Colorado high school armed with multiple firearms, leaving 13 dead and 24 injured. This unprecedented school massacre left many Americans galvanized and determined to prevent further tragedies by enacting stronger gun laws. Yet today, almost 20 years later, the frequency of these incidents have only increased. In her book SHOT, author/photographer Kathy Shorr presents portraits of 101 survivors, aged 8 to 80, from all races and many ethnicities. Most were photographed in the location where they were shot. Join a panel discussion moderated by KUOW’s Patricia Murphy with Shorr, local survivors, and experts. https://townhallseattle.org/event/gun-violence/
Fathom Events is owned by the nation’s three largest exhibitors – AMC, Cinemark and Regal Entertainment Group – hosting cinematic experiences that offer high quality, affordable entertainment events broadcast to the big screen. Audiences get the best seat in the house, in the comfort and convenience of their local movie theater, for live and pre-recorded concerts, world-class opera, sporting events, comedy acts, original programming featuring the biggest names in radio and television and more.
- JONAH: ON STAGE! The Hit Musical Now on The Big Screen. May 2. Filmed in front of a live audience at Sight & Sound Theatres in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, JONAH: ON STAGE! brings to life the journey of this lovable, yet stubborn prophet. This spectacular performance offers delightful humor, cinematic music, massive sets, and a breath-taking underwater scene featuring a huge 40-foot whale—with one big appetite! Get ready for a jaw-dropping adventure for the whole family as one of the Bible’s biggest stories comes to life. https://www.fathomevents.com/events/jonah-on-stage
- Canelo vs. Chavez Jr. May 6. Living up to its billing as the biggest fight of 2017, the Cinco de Mayo showdown between two-division world champion Canelo Alvarez (48-1-1, 34KOs) and former WBC middleweight world champion Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (50-2-1, 32 KOs) in a 12-round battle that will broadcast LIVE from Las Vegas to select movie theatres nationwide. Álvarez was last seen in September of 2016, knocking out the previously undefeated WBO junior middleweight champion Liam Smith while Chávez, Jr. was last in action in December, when he won via unanimous decision over the highly-regarded Dominik Britsch. https://www.fathomevents.com/events/canelo-vs-chavez-jr
- Saturday Night Fever 40th Anniversary. May 7 and May 10. The all-new Director’s Cut celebrates the iconic film that catapulted John Travolta to superstardom, garnered him an Oscar nomination, and captivated audiences the world over. This special event includes an exclusive introduction to the film from legendary hall-of-fame radio personality Scott Shannon! Plus, take a look back at the legacy of Saturday Night Fever with interviews from the director and cast of this groundbreaking motion picture that defined an era. https://www.fathomevents.com/events/saturday-night-fever-40th-anniversary
- The Met: Live in HD “Der Rosenkavalier”. May 13 and May 17. Renée Fleming sings one of her signature roles as the Marschallin, opposite Elīna Garanča in her first North American performances as Octavian, the impulsive young title character. Der Rosenkavalier is a co-production with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and Teatro Regio di Torino. Go behind the scenes with the Met’s stars. During intermission, interviews with cast, crew, and production teams give a revealing look at what goes into the staging of an opera. https://www.fathomevents.com/events/der-rosenkavalier
- Opening Day of boating season (Seattle) May 6, 2017
- Maritime Festival (Seattle waterfront), May 11-13, 2017
- Northwest Paddling Festival (Issaquah) May 12-13, 2017
- Armed Forces Day (Fort Lewis) May 20, 2017
- Aviation Day (Paine Field, Everett) May 20, 2017
- Tankfest Northwest (Everett) May 27, 2017
- Street Scramble (Gig Harbor) May 27, 2017
- Cruzin to Colby Car Show (Everett) My 28-29, 2017
Fairs, festivals, parades
- Cornish College BFA Student Exhibition (Seattle) May 3-7 and 10-14, 2017
- Cinco de Mayo Carnival (Monroe) May 5-7, 2017
- Cinco de Mayo Family Fun Afternoon (Seattle) May 6, 2017
- iFest indie game festival (Seattle) May 6, 2017
- Spring Fairy Festival (Tacoma)May 6, 2017
- Camlann Medieval Festival (Carnation) May 6-7, 2017
- Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month Celebration (Seattle) May 7, 2017
- Children’s Day Festival – Kodomo no Hi (Seattle) May 7, 2017
- Community Garage Sale (West Seattle) May 13, 2017
- Spirit of Africa (Seattle) May 13, 2017
- Norwegian Constitution Day aka Syttende Mai [Soot-n-duh My] (Seattle) May 17, 2017
- Viking Fest (Poulsbo) May 19-21, 2017
- Chinese Culture and Arts Festival (Seattle) May 20, 2017
- Home and Boat Tour (Anacortes) May 20, 2017
- Petpalooza (Auburn) May 20, 2017
- Mineral Show (Seattle) May 20-21, 2017
- University District Streetfair (Seattle) May 20-21, 2017
Art & Museums
Artist studio tours are a rare chance to visit local artists where they create, and talk with them intimately about their work.
Free entrance to Seattle, Bellevue, and Tacoma museums with your library card. Free entrance is available to selected museums throughout the Puget Sound region if you have a library card for Seattle Public libraries, King County libraries, or Pierce County libraries.
Free 1st Thursdays at Seattle museums: http://www.greaterseattleonthecheap.com/free-1st-thursdays-at-seattle-museums/
- Closing May 23 at Seattle Art Museum. Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection features 39 historically significant European and American landscape paintings from the past 400 years. These diverse works offer a unique opportunity for visitors to see the natural world through the eyes of great artists. This collection features a stunning group of evocative Venetian scenes by Canaletto, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, and J.M.W. Turner, among others. http://seattleartmuseum.org/
- Closing May 28 at Northwest African American Museum. An Elegant Utility explores the creation of place, identity and the Northwest African American community that has historically characterized Seattle’s Central District neighborhood. Featuring a collection of artifacts, including photographs, utilitarian house hold belongings, and legal ledgers, the exhibit examines how the personal history of artist Inye Wokoma’s familial lineage, the Green family, serves as an entry point through which the larger story of African-Americans in Seattle, is reflected. An ElegantUtility urges viewers to recognize the relationship between racist housing policies, civic disinvestment in public services and infrastructure, and the seemingly irresistible momentum of the current displacement of Black people. http://www.naamnw.org
- Opening May 6 at Seattle Art Museum. Sam Gilliam’s experimentations with paint in the 1950s and ‘60s opened doors to new possibilities within the innovative realm of abstraction. Inspired by a group of color-field painters who were active in Washington, DC, where he moved in 1962, Gilliam explored the materiality of the painted surface in his own way. This installation includes examples of Gilliam’s early body of work, as well as one painting from Gilliam’s series of Black paintings, a further innovation in the artist’s career. In these heavily layered works, Gilliam raked a thick black paint over a brightly stained canvas, creating tension through colors revealed and concealed by the dark, stucco-like surface. http://www.seattleartmuseum.org
- Opening May 12 at Wing Luke Museum. Teardrops that Wound: The Absurdity of War. In this thoughtful, moving exhibition, curator SuJ’n Chon weaves together the work of Asian Pacific American artists who deconstruct and transform the imagery of war, revealing its inanity and deflating its destructive weight. Portland-based artist Yukiyo Kawano creates a life-sized replica of “Little Boy,” the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, using delicate kimono silk and strands of her own hair. Phong and Sarah Nguyen’s multi-media installation “Break Into Blossom” explores an alternate history in which “Little Boy” fell harmlessly to earth instead of launching the nuclear age. Patrick Nagatani’s intensely staged photographs reveal unseen layers of the American West’s atomic legacy. Active-duty staff sergeant Thomas Dang’s “Bombs Away” conflates the ugliness of biological weapons with the strange beauty of pathogenic organisms, held within transparent bomb/tear-shaped vessels, suspended over a mirrored floor. Noa Batle re-imagines plastic green toy soldiers as private citizens in his series, “Domestic Soldiers.” http://www.wingluke.org
- Opening May 20 at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. Apollo Exhibit. Capturing the Drama of the Space Race Featuring the First Public Display of a Rocket Engine that Launched Apollo to the Moon. With NASA’s successful Apollo missions, humanity could look back at Earth and see our fragile planet as never before. Today Apollo’s legacy lives on in a new space age that will take us to Mars and beyond. Apollo will offer treasures large and small from the Space Race, including a rare, early Soviet space suit, a 1992 Russian Resurs 500 spacecraft, sections of NASA’s 1960s Houston Mission Control, a Boeing lunar rover, the first Apollo command module, and the only Viking Mars lander on Earth. http://www.museumofflight.org/
Free 3rd Thursdays at Bellevue and Tacoma museums: http://www.greaterseattleonthecheap.com/free-museum-days-seattle-tacoma-bellevue/
- Closing May 14 at Tacoma Art Museum. The Outwin 2016: American Portraiture Today. From the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery comes a showcase of today’s most commendable American portraits, the finalists from the triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. http://www.tacomaartmuseum.org
- Closing May 21 at Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. Japanese Americans in the South Sound. The Japanese community first set down roots in Washington State during the 1890s. Early immigrants took low paying jobs in railroads, sawmills, salmon canneries, farms and as domestic laborers. Within a few decades, however, these Washingtonians had become a vital part of our state with contributions to both culture and commerce. It was not a life without conflict, however. Changing laws and the stirring of war with Japan caused strain for many Japanese Americans. The bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 only intensified fear and frustration as uncertainty about the future increased.President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, authorizing the creation of concentration camps for Japanese American citizens. This event would mark the lives of Japanese Americans, their families and their communities forever. http://www.washingtonhistory.org/
- Opening May 13 at Tacoma Art Museum. Familiar Faces & New Voices: Surveying Northwest Art. See a selection of exemplary works from TAM’s collections that tell the varied and layered history of Northwest art. http://www.tacomaartmuseum.org
- Opening May 27 at Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. Gridiron Glory: The Pro Football Hall of Fame. The most extensive and comprehensive exhibit ever done on America’s most popular sport. The experience showcases the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s vast holdings of football artifacts, rare photos and one-of-a-kind documents. In addition, NFL Films has provided spectacular footage from its unparalleled film archives to illustrate the exhibit’s many themes and storylines. Throughout the exhibit, visitors will find a series of interactive exhibits that challenge both mind and body. And one of the most extraordinary features of Gridiron Glory is a series of accompanying programs that include appearances by current and former NFL players, coaches and more. http://www.washingtonhistory.org/
Free 1st Friday at Bellevue Art Museum: http://www.bellevuearts.org/
- Closing May 7 at Bellevue Art Museum. Divine Ammunition: The Sculpture of Al Farrow. Using guns and ammunition, Al Farrow creates sculptures of reliquaries, cathedrals, synagogues, mosques, mausoleums, and other devotional objects. The surprising inventiveness and the technical tour-de-force of his craftsmanship are highlighted in this exhibition of works drawn from private and public collections. https://www.bellevuearts.org
- Opening May 26 at Bellevue Art Museum. Emerge/Evolve 2016: Rising Talents in Kiln-Glass. showcases an international host of emerging artists whose cutting edge work in kiln-glass (or kiln-formed glass) offers a different perspective on the medium. The Bellevue Arts Museum exhibition will feature award winners and select finalists from the Emerge 2016 competition alongside the Evolve artists. BAM will host an enriched edition of the exhibition, including additional works from the thirteen selected artists.
Free 1st Saturday at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle: https://volunteerparkconservatory.org/
Always Free Museums: http://www.greaterseattleonthecheap.com/free-museum-days-seattle-tacoma-bellevue/
- Apple Blossom Festival in Wenatchee. Prices vary. April 27 – May 7. Free entertainment. Corvette show. Arts & Crafts Fair. Parades. Food vendors. Beer garden. 25 carnival rides & games ($30 covers all rides). http://www.appleblossom.org/
- Packwood Mountain Festival. May 5, 6, & 7, 2017. Demonstrations, live music, kid’s crafts and games, Native American drumming ceremony on Sunday afternoon, and a local craft show and sale. http://www.whitepasscountrymuseum.org/mountain.htm
- Sequim Irrigation Festival. May 5-13, 2017. The oldest continuing festival in Washington state celebrates the development of the irrigation ditches that brought water to the once dry prairies of Sequim. Events include a logging show, car show, kids’ parade, grand parade, strongman competition, art & crafts show and more. http://www.irrigationfestival.com/
- Rainier Independent Film Festival in Ashford, WA. May 19-21, 2017. In its 10th year, a personable weekend where attendees enjoy screening new movies, talking with filmmakers, mingling with old friends and new, and attending workshops. Complete with international, national, and regional film selections, the festival is a unique experience. http://rainier.film/
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