Saturday: Fremont Solstice naked/painted bike ride + How to join

Photo of a big group of people biking toward the camera while painted in bright colors.

Photo by John Cornicello (used with permission)

The annual Fremont Solstice Parade is Saturday, and you know what that means: It’s time to get naked, paint your body and crash the parade on your bike.

For about a quarter century, people have been biking ahead of the Fremont Solstice Parade in various states of nudity and body art. In the past decade, the number of participants has ballooned, and the ride has become an iconic cultural phenomenon in our city.

If you are going to watch, don’t even try to drive there. Biking is your best bet, of course. The bike ride starts at 1 p.m. and the official parade (which is also amazing and people-powered) starts at 1:30. Earlier this spring, the parade organizers announced that the bike ride would be after the official parade, but they have since changed their minds due to some logistical concerns. So the bike ride will go first as usual, but riders may not be looping around as they did in previous years.

If you want to join, there are two basic options: You can get painted up at your or a friend’s nearby home, or you can join the volunteer-run open painting party at CSR Marine. Both options are popular.

If you are painting on your own, meet at 3rd Ave NW and NW 36th Street at 1 p.m. ready to ride (don’t be too late or you will not be allowed to enter the route).

If you are joining the main painting party, doors open at 8:30 a.m., and you need to be finished by noon. The group then goes on a ride around Ballard before joining the parade route at 1. Bring $10 to donate to the cause. There are usually some random communal paints, but bringing your own paint and brush is usually best if you have a specific idea in mind.

Some tips:

  • This is a very public event, and there will be a lot of cameras. So be prepared for that.
  • Bring a way to transport clothes to the finish at Gas Works Park. Don’t expect to return to the start.
  • Put on sunscreen before the paint.
  • Spending a little extra on makeup paints like the Ben Nye brand is worth it. But if you are using cheaper paints (acrylics are common), just make sure they are non-toxic. More advice here.
  • Respect your fellow participants and look out for each other.
  • The ride includes lots of stopping and inching along in a big painted bike traffic jam (the world’s best kind of traffic jam). So be ready for that.
  • Bring a plastic bag or cover to protect your saddle (and, later, your pants) from paint.
  • Nude is not lewd. But seriously, don’t be lewd.
  • Express yourself and have fun!

2019 Solstice bike ride schedule

From the Solstice Cyclists website:

Friday
6:00-9:00 p.m. Set up at CSR Marine, 4701 Shilshole Ave NW.

Saturday
8:30-12:00 Painting at CSR Marine.

12:00-12:15 Organize for the ride and exit CSR Marine.  Take everything with you.  Gates close at 12:30 sharp.

12:15-1:00 Ride to parade through Ballard.

1:00-1:30 Enter the parade route.  Continue forward to Gasworks Park (we’re experimenting with no looping this year).

Sunday
11:00-5:00 Clean up at CSR Marine.

Painting parties

If you want to organize your own paint-up and you’re willing to share the experience with new friends, please post to [email protected].  Rendezvous at the start of the parade route (the corner of 3rd Ave NW and NW 36th St) by 1:00pm, painted and ready to kick off the parade!

See the page on the main paint party if you want to join the bulk of the riders in painting up.

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