Bumbershoot for Families: Your Total Arts & Music Immersion

Moms, dads, grandparents, and godparents: Are you looking for a special occasion to dedicate to some one-on-one bonding time with your kid? Check out our series of hip happenings that will give the two of you secrets to share and a ritual to return to year after year.

Attending Seattle’s visual art, dance, film, theatre, comedy, and music festival, Bumbershoot (September 1-3, 2017) is the perfect introduction to the capital of the Pacific Northwest. Even the name is just a Victorian way of saying “umbrella” – which should give you an idea of the weather to expect on Labor Day weekend in early September (or, really, any time of year).

The end-of-summer tradition has been a staple of Seattle life and culture for more than 40 years and showcases new, local talent as well as national acts. Festivities at Seattle Center and participation from museums, cultural venues, and artists round out the offerings and deliver the excitement of North America’s largest urban arts festival.

Watch as your kids discover interactive performances and experience Seattle’s values of art, inclusivity and accessibility.


Okay, maybe “accessibility” isn’t such a highly valued norm anymore. Ticket prices have surged in the past few years to $89 for a day pass (the three-day weekend is a better deal, actually), but kids five and under are still free. Buy your tickets during the pre-sale or online to save a few bucks and some time standing in line on the day-of.

If you opt for a single day ticket, make sure to check the lineup and plan around the bands you want to see. Most of the arts and culture events happen all weekend. Day passes for Sunday and Monday are less than their Friday and Saturday counterparts, too.

Print out a schedule of all the events you find interesting using the My Schedule feature of the website so you’ll enter the festival with some sort of a plan. However, parents should always be ready to improvise, too. Follow your kid’s passion and leave the attitude at home.

Stock up on sunblock, swim suits, sweaters, extra clothes, and umbrellas before you leave. The weather is unpredictable and you don’t want to be left out in the cold. Pack empty water bottles (refill them inside the festival grounds) and plenty of cash, too. Outside food and drink aren’t allowed inside the festival grounds, so consider coming well-fed or be prepared to shell out some money on-site.

Best Bumber Bets

Pick an art form, any art form. Whatever your kid is into – comedy, music, dance, theatre, film, visual arts, digital arts – there will be a section of the festival for him. Check out Seattle International Film Festival’s Films for Families, a festival of curated shorts, animated films, and kid-friendly art pieces. Your kid can even enter to show her own film through the film festival’s website.

Young performers and kid-friendly adult shows are filtered in the Youngershoot general schedule (look for the family filter, called Vera Project), so you don’t have to worry about foul language or unruly crowds, for the most part. Don’t forget the noise-canceling headphones (for little ears) or earplugs (if they’ll stay in!).

Letting your older kiddos and tweens experiment with some independence during the festival may create more of a bond than you think. Giving them some autonomy to make choices about where to go and what to see will create memorable experiences and be gratifying to kids. After all – you’re showing them your confidence and trust.

Plan to stick it out together? Be sure to give your child options on where to go and what to see next. And don’t forget to draw attention to the visual art and comedy pieces at the festival. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions, but make sure to honor as many of your kids’ choices as you can, too.


Need a fresh perspective for your kids 10 and under? Check out the Kids’ Zone, a separate area of the festival organized by the Seattle Children’s Museum. When adultland gets boring and your child can’t listen to any more emo mumblecore, this is the spot made just for them. Family friendly musical acts, theatre, and dance troupes with young performers are scheduled throughout the afternoon.

Get your kid registered with KidSafe, which provides them with a free wristband that connects to your name and information. Show your young one how to recognize Bumbershoot staffers and volunteers, and who they can ask for help if they get lost.

Hands-on music lessons, scientific experiments, and games are organized by Seattle Symphony, School of Rock, and Pacific Science Center. Escape here with your kids when they’re sick of grown-up themed music and events. Youngsters won’t be able to resist splashing under the giant Dupen Fountain or the International Fountain.


Festing in Seattle with your kid, whether a youngster or independent teen, will allow you to each see the other’s world, learn about new bands and artists, and maybe even try a whole new form of artistic expression. As long as you make a plan and stay flexible, expect to have a bumberblast!

What are some fun events your city has to offer? Share with us!

Cover image by Mat Hayward / Shutterstock.com

Tags : hip happenings   music festivals   art festival   bumbershoot   

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