Seattle’s Free Community-Based Festivals Are Wrestling With a Cash-Strapped Future

There’s no shortage of music festivals in the Pacific Northwest—least of all in the Seattle area. With a population of just over 650,000, the city supports an unusually large number of festivals, from Bumbershoot to Capitol Hill Block Party, Doe Bay, Timber, and many others. This week the city will experience perhaps the most ambitious effort yet: Upstream Music Fest, the Paul Allen brainchild featuring 300 acts and panels on everything under the sun. Upstream, though, is expensive. If you want access to all its three days offer, you’re going to pay $425. Yet some local festivals—like Northwest Folklife and Block Party at the Station—don’t charge any entry fee. Whether this model can continue, however, is in serious doubt.