Start your engines for Seafair Weekend

Seafair Weekend hydroplane races and air show, Aug. 2-4, Seattle

Madeline McKenzie, The Seattle Times

Colorful hydroplanes racing on Lake Washington and festival activities onshore star at the Seafair Weekend at Genesee Park Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The big event, a festive Seattle Seafair tradition since 1951, draws thousands of spectators on the shore and in watercraft for the hydro races, air show and summer fun.

The Patriots Jet Team stars in the daily Air Show, since the Navy’s popular Blue Angels couldn’t make it this year. Vintage and specialty planes perform in the air throughout all three days, and vintage hydroplanes are on display in the pits all weekend and in the water at 12:15 and 2:30 p.m. Friday, 10:20 a.m. Saturday and 10:45 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. Sunday.

Onshore events include military-flight simulations, entertainment, Kids Zone inflatable rides, souvenir vendors, interactive exhibits and a variety of food from 20 vendors. Learn all about hydroplane racing at the Hydro 101 tent, see the Budweiser Clydesdales and try the zip line and the new waterslide in Genesee Park.

Beer gardens are at the South Turn and North Turn areas with views of the races, and at Genesee Park adjacent to the music stage. It’s fine to bring your own food and beverages, but no outside alcohol is allowed.

Shoes are required in certain areas, including closed-toe shoes for access to Stan Sayres Pits for guided tours and up-close views of the hydros, available daily with purchase of a Pit Pass ($10/person). Grandstands are the only area providing reserved seating at premium cost. For everyone else, folding chairs or a blanket to sit on come in handy, though many spectators simply sit on the grass or stand near the lake during the races.

Parking is extremely limited in the area; advance parking is available online for $33 a day, if it’s not sold out. There’s a bike corral outside the main gate for bicycle parking. A free shuttle bus from the Columbia City Link Light Rail station offers 5-minute rides to the Seafair main gate 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Seafair’s website has a $10 coupon for all-day parking at SeaTac Airport Garage and information about parking near other Light Rail stations.