Street Performer Rule

Northwest Folklife welcomes unscheduled performances by street performers. We recognize that those performances have a long history with the Festival and add to the overall festival atmosphere. However, the relationship between Northwest Folklife and street performers must be one that benefits both parties economically. Our organization is a small nonprofit that relies heavily on donations from Festival-goers to keep this event going each year. We ask that you donate a portion of your proceeds to Northwest Folklife. In so doing, you acknowledge the opportunity you have to perform at the Festival as well as all of the work done by Northwest Folklife’s staff to ensure a large crowd. You will be helping us keep the Festival alive by participating with us in the economic health of the organization.

At the Festival, Street Performer Coordinators will be on hand to work with you. They will give you an envelope for your donation to Northwest Folklife. You will also be given a sign to display while you perform to advise the public that you are supporting Folklife and that a portion of your proceeds will go back to the Festival. We will be operating on the honor system and the size of your donation is up to you. We recommend 15% of your proceeds be returned to Folklife, the same amount agreed to by all Festival vendors.

We want this program to evolve with you! If you are interested in becoming a part of the planning process for the 2012 Festival, let a Street Performer Coordinator know.

Your Responsibilities as a Street Performer

Choosing a Location

You may choose a location each morning. Locations cannot be saved from one day to the next. First-come, first-served. Your activities may not interfere with any scheduled performance or programmed activity. You may be asked to move to another location at any time at the discretion of the Street Performer Coordinator. You are not guaranteed the same spot all day.

For the safety and enjoyment of all who attend, the following areas are off limits for street performing:

  • Covered walkways
  • Within 30 feet of a captive audience
  • Washrooms or entrances and exits of washrooms
  • Entrances and exits from any facility, door, loading dock, elevator or stairway
  • Inside of any building
  • The Fisher Green programmed area (the entire block). This space is designated as a jamming space.
  • In the breezeway between the Alki Room and the Snoqualmie Room
  • On the South, East and West sides of the Alki Room
  • Handicap access to any location
  • Any areas designated by the Street Performer Coordinators as “off limits”

Performer Rotation

You must be prepared to rotate your space. If another group wishes to play in the same space, both groups must agree to alternate. Each group is allowed to play for up to 45 minutes, with a 30-minute break between sets. The rotation schedule is on the honor system, but a Street Performer Coordinator will intervene if necessary.

Crowd Control

You are responsible for your own crowd control. Your audience cannot block traffic flow. You may in no way cause public inconvenience or jeopardize safety. If you are performing near a walkway and gather a large crowd, you will be asked to stop and relocate.


You may not erect any structure, rack, display case or sign that cannot be contained in a conventional musical instrument case.

CD Sales

If you want to sell your CDs, you must have a City of Seattle Business License or you can purchase a temporary City of Seattle Business License for the weekend for $20. This temporary permit is valid for all four days of the festival. In order to help sustain our festival, we ask you to consider offering 15% of your total sales to Northwest Folklife.


There is no storage for street performers’ equipment on the Seattle Center grounds. All equipment must be removed from the grounds each night.

Sound Control

Loud Instruments

Locations for loud instruments (e.g.: percussion, brass instruments or bagpipes) are extremely limited. Three suggestions are:

  • On the Thomas Street walkway across from the Space Needle entrance
  • The base of the West Key Arena steps
  • On Thomas, just East of the Space Needle loading dock.

Check-in with a Street Performer Coordinator before setting up.

Sound Levels

The Street Performer Coordinators will be equipped with decibel meters this year. Street performers are asked to monitor their sound levels to make sure they are not interfering with activities or other performers, including scheduled performances. Street performers must not exceed a decibel meter reading of 85 decibels, with the meter held 10 feet from the performer. All drum kits must be muffled.


No amplification is allowed.  This includes, but is not limited to, amplifiers, boom boxes, pre-recorded music, and microphones.


Unauthorized Activities

  • Fire is not allowed on Northwest Folklife grounds. This includes, but is not limited to: ground fires, juggling and fire dancing.
  • Juggling knives, swords, sharp sticks or other objects deemed dangerous are strictly prohibited. All dangerous activity will be stopped. Failure to comply will result in a call to the Seattle Police Department and removal from the grounds.
  • Attaching any equipment, fliers or other material to trees, shrubs or other greenery is strictly prohibited.

City of Seattle Firearms Policy

All persons, except law enforcement officers, are prohibited from possessing any firearm on the permitted premises. You must adhere to this prohibition and take reasonable steps to notify all persons who work or participate with you on the premises of Seattle Center of this prohibition either verbally or in writing, and you must enforce this prohibition for the duration of your use of the Seattle Center grounds.