23 Best Performing Arts Venues in Seattle, Washington

Seattle Public Theater

Fodor's choice

Beloved by locals for its humorous, ground-breaking, and unique choices, Seattle Public Theater brings five shows a year to an intimate stage. This tiny company puts on performances worth scheduling a day around.

Seattle Symphony

Fodor's choice

The symphony performs from September through June in the stunning Benaroya Hall. The group has been nominated for numerous Grammy Awards and is well regarded nationally and internationally.

12th Avenue Arts

Developed by Community Roots Housing, 12th Avenue Arts is designed to keep the arts in the neighborhood. It plays host to two theaters with rotating shows from various local troupes, including the excellent Strawberry Theatre Workshop and Washington Ensemble Theatre. The building itself also provides low-cost housing, office space for nonprofits, and holds a few restaurants.

Recommended Fodor's Video

A Contemporary Theatre

Dedicated to launching exciting works by emerging dramatists, ACT has four staging areas, including a theater-in-the-round and an intimate downstairs space for small shows. The season runs from April to November.

Benaroya Hall

The acoustics are good from every one of the main hall's 2,500 seats—great news if you want to check out the Seattle Symphony, which is based here, or any of a number of world-class speakers, musicians, and other performers who appear here throughout the year. The four-story lobby has a curved glass facade that makes intermissions almost as impressive as performances.

Big Picture

Enjoy the same first-run films that are playing down the street at the multiplex—minus the crowds, screaming kids, and sensory overload—at Big Picture. This small, elegant theater has a full bar (you can order refills during the screening), and it's 21 and older only.

Central Cinema

Forget about 40-ounce Cokes and popcorn with neon-yellow butter—Central Cinema makes movie night a more elegant experience. The first few rows of this charming, friendly, little theater consist of diner-style booths; place your order for pizzas, salads, and snacks (including popcorn with inventive toppings like curry or brewer's yeast), and servers will deliver your food unobtrusively during the first few minutes of the movie. Wash it down with a normal-size soda, a cup of coffee, or better yet a cocktail or a glass of wine or beer. The theater shows a great mix of favorites and local indie and experimental films.

Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center

This performance and education venue run by the Cornish College of the Arts hosts public music and theater programs, produced by students and professionals, throughout the year in a 432-seat auditorium on the Seattle Center Campus.

Hugo House

This writers' haven has classes and readings by Northwest luminaries and authors on their way up. From Q&A sessions with local novelists to lectures by Pulitzer Prize winners, community writing sessions to guided memoir classes, this organization uses its building to encourage and enable everyone's literary side.

Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute

A community hub that celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2022, the Central District's Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute (LHPAI) offers a gathering place for Seattle's Black community—even as it's become more dispersed—through a variety of programming like classes, film screenings, readings, and theater. Housed in an elegant historic domed building, LHPAI also hosts the annual Seattle Black Film Festival in the spring.

Marion Oliver McCaw Hall

The home of the Seattle Opera and the Pacific Northwest Ballet is an opulent, glass-enclosed structure reflecting the skies and the Space Needle nearby. The facility houses two auditoriums and a four-story main lobby area where several artworks are on display. Look for Sarah Sze's An Equal and Opposite Reaction, an enormous sculpture of found objects, hanging over the stairs at the north end of the Kreielsheimer Promenade.

Meany Hall for the Performing Arts

National and international companies perform October through May at the University of Washington's Meany Hall. The emphasis is on modern and jazz dance and generally innovative, diverse performance art.

Northwest Film Forum

A cornerstone of the city's independent film scene, the two screening rooms here show classic repertory, cult hits, experimental films, and documentaries. Workshops, curated film series, and festivals fill the schedule.

1515 12th Ave., Seattle, 98122, USA
Performing Art Details
Rate Includes: From $7

On the Boards

Since 1978, On the Boards has been presenting contemporary dance performances, as well as theater, music, and multimedia events. The main subscription series runs from September through May, but events are scheduled year-round.

Pacific Northwest Ballet

The lineup of Seattle's resident ballet company and school includes works from celebrated contemporary choreographers as well as a mix of classic and international productions (think Swan Lake and Carmina Burana). Fans of The Nutcracker can rest assured that the timeless production is still part of the company's repertoire. Its season runs from September through June.

Seattle Center

Several of the Seattle Center's halls are used for theater, opera, dance, music, and performance art. Public radio station KEXP frequently hosts concerts in their home on the Seattle Center campus, and the center is also the site of many of Seattle's major cultural festivals.

Buy Tickets Now

Seattle Children's Theatre

Top-notch productions of new works join adaptations from classic children's literature here. After the show, actors come out to answer questions and explain how the tricks are done.

201 Thomas St., Seattle, 98109, USA
Performing Art Details
Rate Includes: From $15

Seattle Opera

Housed in the beautiful Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, the opera stages productions from August through May. National and international stars make their way to the stage as part of the wide-ranging schedule of classic and new operas, drawn from around the world. Additional educational and community events aim to bring diverse crowds out to enjoy the genre.

Seattle Repertory Theater

During its season (September through June), the Seattle Repertory Theater brings new and classic plays to life. Adoring fans flock to new takes on choice classics as well as works fresh from the New York stage, but the overall mission is to produce shows that reflect the experiences and perspectives of people in the region. You can preorder your drinks from the lobby bar to enjoy during intermission.

SIFF Cinema Uptown

Festival films, independent releases, and arthouse flicks pepper the schedule of this cinema run as a year-round extension of the Seattle International Film Festival. The three screens vary between new releases and themed selections, the concession stand serves beer and alcohol, and the old-school marquee adds charm to the neighborhood.

The 5th Avenue Theatre

Even if you don't plan on seeing anything here, this Asian fantasia is worth a peek—it's one of the most beautiful venues in the world. The 5th Avenue Theatre opened in 1926 as a silent-movie house and vaudeville stage, complete with a giant pipe organ and ushers who dressed as cowboys and pirates. Today it has its own theater company, which stages lavish productions October through May. At other times it hosts concerts, lectures, and films.

The Grand Illusion Cinema

Seattle's longest-running independent movie house is an outstanding and unique home for independent and art film that feels as comfortable as a home theater. The non-profit, volunteer-run theater shows independent, classic, and other types of films that otherwise tend to fly under the radar of pop culture.

The Neptune Theatre

A cultural hub for the nearby University of Washington since opening in 1921, this striking Renaissance-revival theater is operated by STG Presents, which also runs the Paramount and Moore. The lineup—featuring mostly music and comedy—includes a mix of emerging and well-established acts.