Best Street Party Seattle's Capitol Hill


Every year in Seattle's hip Capitol Hill area the whole city comes to celebrate the heat of summer, listen to a huge variety of music, drink far too much beer and generally take part in joyful, controlled mayhem.

Yes folks, this is the Capitol Hill Block Party, an event that has been blowing minds and eardrums since 1997 and gets better every year with over 90 acts. Past performers have included Sonic Youth, MGMT, Doomsday1999, The Dutchess and The Duke, Spinerette, Deerhunter, Built To Spill, Jesus Lizard, and many, many more.

The Party usually takes place the third week of June and is a great community building event as well as a great way to taste great food and meet great people.

Editors Comment This looks like a terrific event, even though none of us have attended. This year, 2015, we notice it will be in July, not June.

Folks, this comes off like a large music festival. Wristbands covering three days cost $125 now, so this isn't a production for amateurs.

It appears that these event producers are controlling entrance to a six-block area, which boasts maybe 15 restaurants, another 10 bars and night clubs, and 15-20 retail establishments, among other things. From the 2014 map, one block appeared to be devoted to food trucks.

(The food truck option sometimes is controversial in an area where there is an abundant supply of restaurants, but it is great to have them as a more on-the-go kind of choice for people who would not commit time away from the music for the sit-down restaurant experience.)

Publicity describes a beer garden venue for the festival, but also points out there are some drinking establishments open for regular business. It's important (and very difficult sometimes) to keep local businesses happy about the festival. They have to be convinced of the long-term marketing value of the event publicity.

Don't underestimate the logistics involved in running multiple stages of music, and getting maybe 100 bands signed up, scheduled, provided with information about the event and equipment logistics, and described and marketed to your customers. It would be better to start with one stage and a much smaller number of bands, limiting the festival to perhaps Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and Saturday evening.

Also you will need to allow plenty of time for lining up event sponsors. Essentially sponsors contribute money in return for your placing their logo on your publicity and perhaps offering them preferred placement at the event itself.

It is helpful to have media sponsors who can give you free publicity in an informal way that carries more credibility than a paid advertisement. A well-established event can have multiple media sponsors, but for a new event, we recommend starting with just one.

Major sponsors often book events such as this as much as a year or more in advance, so start early.

So if you have a great artsy district such as Capitol Hill in Seattle, together with a residential population that will enjoy or at least tolerate the commotion on the weekend of the event, study your options, attend some other cities' premier events, and enlist an experienced event promoter either as a volunteer or a paid consultant.

The neighborhood marketing value of such an important event would be hard to overestimate. I would not know of Capitol Hill without this Block Party, I suspect.

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