August 3

South Lake Union Block Party Preview

Make the most out of the neighborhoods big summer event.

Nothing says summer like a block party, and South Lake Union throws one of the best in the city. The SLU Block Party, which will take place on Friday, August 12 from 11am to 11pm at the corner of Denny Way and Westlake Ave N, is one of the biggest neighborhood events of the year. The event is free and all proceeds go to benefit Cascade Playground Activation Committee. From mouth-watering food and made-on-site art to music from local artists, the Block Party has something for everyone.

When it comes to food and drink, be sure to arrive on an empty stomach. Sample handcrafted sliders from five SLU restaurants (Brave Horse Tavern, Local Public Eatery, Lunchbox Laboratory, Pan Pacific Hotel, and Sam’s Tavern) at the annual Best Burger Grilling Competition, and decide for yourself which one has what it takes to take home the champion title. Or, check out the best of Seattle’s food truck scene during lunch and dinner on the corner of John Street and Ninth Avenue. For those 21 and older, beat the summer heat with a refreshing local craft beer, cider, or glass of wine from Brave Horse Tavern’s beer garden.

For the artistically inclined, don’t miss one of the Block Party’s signature events—the Steamroller Smackdown, put on by the neighborhood’s own School of Visual Concepts (SVC). Between 2:25pm and 7:45pm, watch as teams of designers use a steamroller to print custom designs on large posters. For Jenny Wilkinson, SVC’s Letterpress Shop Director, one of the most exciting parts of participating in the Block Party is “hearing the crowd cheer when each new steamroller poster is peeled from the pavement.” The teams with the best designs, centered on this year’s theme “Northwest Stories,” will be presented awards by the Executive Director of Seattle Arts and Lectures, Ruth Dickey. Try poster printing yourself with SVC’s portable printing parlour, and create your own piece of art using the school’s unique images and antique wood type.

Of course, what’s a party without music? This year’s event will feature performances throughout the day from Seattle-area musicians and DJs, including Danny Newcomb & the Sugarmakers, Lemolo, the True Loves, Hibou, and electronic indie-pop headliner, Beat Connection. What can attendees expect from the headlining performance? “We’ve got some new stuff up our sleeve, and we are getting ready for a tour, so it’s gonna be an exciting one…it’s always wild playing for a home-town crowd, so being able to do a show that’s free for the city is a big deal for us,” says Reed Juenger of Beat Connection.

Beyond bringing the neighborhood together, the event serves to benefit the surrounding area’s residents. A truly community-focused day, proceeds from the Block Party every year go to a local nonprofit. This year’s beneficiary, the Cascade Playground Activation Committee (CPAC), is an organization that encourages community building and engagement, and is seeking to make Cascade Playground a safe and enjoyable space within the neighborhood. The organization encompasses Cascade and South Lake Union residents, small business owners, and community groups.

Although the Block Party is open to all, including those from outside the neighborhood, as Vulcan employee Josh Lackey explains, the day brings together and showcases the best elements of the South Lake Union community. “There is so much diverse and important work happening in the neighborhood, from technologies being developed that we use every day, to diseases being cured that affect people from around the world. At the end of the day, it’s extremely rewarding to see these groups come together to celebrate the neighborhood they live and work in.”

Tips for Attendees:

  • As one of the most popular traditions of the Block party, the Best Burger Grilling Competition is sure to sell out quick. Ensure that you’ll get your fill of tasty sliders, and purchase a $20 ticket early from the Whole Foods at South Lake Union.
  • Bring your A-game to the Brave Horse Tavern’s beer garden and try your hand at a number of lawn games, provided by Underdog Sports, as you sip on your drink.
  • South Lake Union Block Party keeps it local—the event is a great way to learn more about neighborhood non-profits and small businesses.
  • Looking for a one of a kind piece of art? One of each poster created by the design teams as part of the Steamroller Smackdown will be available to purchase for $100 to benefit the School of Visual Concept’s letterpress program.
  • Visit for a map, schedules, and more information.


Story by Morgan Albrecht, Photos by Phototainment

At The Center

SLU is the geographical center of Seattle