Arts | Outings + Activities

Bumbershoot Dispatch 1: Don't Fear the Arena, Protect Ears, Rock Visual Arts and More

Enjoying Thao and the Get Down Stay Down on Saturday at Bumbershoot
Enjoying Thao and the Get Down Stay Down on Saturday at Bumbershoot

Editor's note: Gemma Alexander, the writer of our Bumbershoot preview, went to the festival on Saturday with her kids, and sent in a few more tips. Take a look at our family Bumbershoot guide for the basics, check out these updates, and head out.

Although my family tends to treat the Youngershoot Kids’ Zone like the Chill-Out Tent, performances on the Kids’ Zone stage, which is only open to children and their families, are worth planning for. When we posted Parent Map’s picks for Bumbershoot, the schedule for the Kids' Zone stage wasn’t available, but it is now online. You can add those performances to your electronic schedule if you’d rather use the app than carry around a paper schedule. The app not only allows you to keep track of where you plan to be, it includes a helpful map of the Seattle Center that includes venues, bathrooms, and water bottle filling stations.

Here are a few last minutes tips to help make your day more enjoyable.

Protect little ears

Bring earplugs or noise-reducing earmuffs. Hearing damage is inevitable and irreversible – help your kids delay it as long as possible. Plus, headphones can make the clamor of the crowd a little easier for sensitive kids to bear. Don’t forget earplugs for yourself, too.

Avoid the money pit

Last year the State Farm tent offered free bag check, but no such luck this year. There is a locker tent between the fountain and the Tune In stage, but lockers cost $15/day. The cheapest parking I found on Saturday was $20 – public transportation is a better option if it’s at all feasible. At least you can recharge your cell phone at the Prius Plug-in Charging Station in front of the Fisher Pavilion.


Even if you budget a fortune for festival food, you’ll still want to bring water bottles so you don’t have to stand in line for every drink. Speaking of water, don’t forget about the fountain – your kids will want to get wet.

Don’t fear the arena

Although lines form an hour ahead of mainstage shows, you no longer need wristbands and can stay inside for more than one performance. Your kids will feel like they’ve been to “real concert” and the arena is air conditioned.

Don’t skip the visual arts

With such a great line-up of bands, it’s easy to think of Bumbershoot as a music festival, but there is some great art to be seen. My kids loved the mechanical arts exhibited in Fisher Pavilion. They spent half an hour watching a video of a Rube Goldberg device, and expect to go back every day of the festival to check on the progress of Jonathan Schipper’s salt city. The concert posters in Flatstock are sure to impress older kids. Bonus: the arts rooms are often less crowded than the performance venues.

If you go

When: Bumbershoot runs Aug. 31–Sept. 2, gates open at 11 a.m. daily

Where: Seattle Center

Parking: Parking lots at or near Seattle Center cost $10-$20 and can fill up.

Public Transportation: use Metro’s online Trip Planner. It’s a cheaper, greener, sometimes easier alternative that’s an adventure to kids. There will be a special shuttle from Northgate to the festival for $2.50 each way. Transit passes will not be honored but children 5 and under ride free.

Prices: Adults’ advance single-day tickets start at $50, 3-day passes at $130. Tickets for active military, veterans, seniors aged 65+, and patrons with permanent disabilities will be available at festival gates for $30/day. Free admission for children 10 and under.

Tips: Bring earplugs or headphones for children who are too small for earplugs

Planning: Find our day-to-day guide here, and a printable version of our suggested schedule and modify it for your own family here. Bumbershoot’s own sample family-friendly schedule has more good ideas.

About the author: After an unbelievably fun and tantrum-free day at Bumbershoot last year, writer Gemma Alexander is going to take her family to two days of the festival this year. Although bedtimes will still be honored, she will probably not make it to work on Tuesday.

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