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Bumbershoot: 2024 Guide for Parents

This classic Seattle festival has plenty of things for kids to do

Published on: May 21, 2024

Bumbershoot stage with crowd and Space Needle in the background at Seattle Center
Photo:
courtesy Bumbershoot

When I first moved to Seattle, I heard again and again that I could not miss out on Bumbershoot. The three-day festival is a quintessential Seattle summer event, and I can see why. The first year I went, the sun was shining and Seattle Center was abuzz with live music, enthusiastic crowds and local vendors. That was more than 10 years ago, and I am so excited to see this tradition continue and share it with my family.

Last summer, Bumbershoot returned to Seattle for its 50th anniversary after a three-year hiatus, drawing in approximately 40,000 people to enjoy and celebrate music and art. This year, families can look forward to even more art, music and immersive experiences at the festival.

Bumbershoot Seattle 2023 crowd watching musicians perform on stage on a sunny day
Multiple stages will be set up at Seattle Center for Bumbershoot. Photo: courtesy Bumbershoot

Bumbershoot 2024 lineup

This year’s Bumbershoot will be held over Labor Day weekend (Aug. 31–Sept. 1). In addition to its visual arts programming, Bumbershoot just released its music lineup. Headlining artists include Pavement, James Blake, and Cypress Hill. Also on the list: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, The Polyphonic Spree, and Lauren Mayberry (of CHVRCHES). Parents can dust off their vintage band tees, browse the exciting lineup to find their favorite artists, and make a plan to introduce their kids to the magic of live music.

Bumbershoot 2023 band performing to a packed crowd at Seattle Center
Check out this year’s Bumbershoot lineup to find your favorite bands. Photo: courtesy Bumbershoot

Family activities at Bumbershoot

Bumbershoot promises overwhelming visual spectacles, dance performances and art for all ages to enjoy throughout Seattle Center.

“It’s really, really creative,” said Gloria Alvarez Connors, president and CEO of Connors & Co. Events, Inc. Connors is helping organize this year’s festival.

There will be family favorites like face painting, though you can expect more elaborate designs. “It’s not going to be just butterflies on the face, you might end up with a David Bowie (design),” Connors said.

Performers at Seattle Center fountain for Bumbershoot
Expect to see performances and more at this year’s Bumbershoot. Photo: courtesy Bumbershoot

Navigating the Bumbershoot districts

While Youngershoot is no more, Bumbershoot introduced various districts last year, and more are promised for this year.

  • Animation District: New to Bumbershoot this year, the Animation District will have a diverse offering of experimental films and feature animations. There will also be an international Bigfoot deepfake competition, spearheaded by a 13-year-old animator.
  • Recess District: In this district, kids can participate in double Dutch jump-roping or climb on a large jungle gym. They may also get a kick out of watching wrestlers during the Bumbermania! Wrestling Program, or skateboarders on the half pipe. Plus, there will be gymnastics (including acrobats), breakdancing, roller skating, cheerleading and more to watch.
  • Fashion District: Fashionistas of all ages will love the youth-led catwalk in the Fashion District. There will also be a beauty salon and fashion marketplace where you’ll want to treat yourself (and your kids).
  • Century 21 District: Space enthusiasts and future astronauts will want to spend the day in this district, where Bumbershoot has partnered with NASA to present “Songs for Space.” You’ll be amazed by the high-definition images of deep space accompanied by live vocals from a children’s choir.
Bumbershoot fashion show in the Fashion District at Seattle Center
Head to the Fashion District to see a youth-led catwalk or shop a fashion marketplace this year. Photo: courtesy Bumbershoot

Families can also look forward to the Cat Circus in the festival’s Geodesic Domes, but may want to steer clear of the Comedy Dome as it’s geared more toward adults.

If you’re like me and want a souvenir to take home, festival and artist merch can be found between Fisher and Fountain Stages.

Wrestlers in the ring at Bumbermania, Bumbershoot's wrestling program at Seattle Center
Watch wrestling at the festival’s Recess District. Photo: courtesy Bumbershoot

What to eat at Bumbershoot

While you may be tempted to pack your lunch and save your money for that new band merch, it is important to note that outside food and drink are not allowed at Bumbershoot. Re-entry isn’t allowed, either, so make a plan to stay for the day and enjoy one (or more!) of the hundreds of food options available at the festival.

Multiple food tents set up at Bumbershoot
From barbecue to tapas, expect a wide array of food options at Bumbershoot. Photo: courtesy Bumbershoot

The pickiest of eaters will likely be comforted by the familiar sight of cheese pizza, burgers, hot dogs and fries, while those with more adventurous palates can delight in salmon sandwiches, pizza with extra toppings, paella, dumplings and jollof. Gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options will be available.

What to bring to Bumbershoot (and what to leave at home)

Bumbershoot has a clear bag policy intended to make the festival safer and entry faster, so plan to pack what you need in a clear bag that measures less than 18 by 18 by 6 inches. You can also bring backpacks, shoulder bags and small handbags that are not clear, but they are subject to a security search at the entrance (which may mean a longer wait time getting into the festival).

Bumbershoot allows child-occupied strollers, and for good reason: Little ones will likely get tired walking around the festival all day. Wagons, carts and infant car seats are not allowed, however.

While you can’t bring outside food or beverages, you can bring an empty, refillable non-glass water bottle and fill it at the Seattle Center Armory.

Also, since Bumbershoot happens rain or shine, you will want to pack weather-dependent accessories such as sunscreen, hats, rain gear or extra layers of clothing.

Roller derby at Bumbershoot
From roller skating to animation, there is something for everyone to enjoy at Bumbershoot. Photo: courtesy Bumbershoot

Getting tickets for Bumbershoot

While new Bumbershoot programming has been a priority, Connors said festival leaders have kept affordability top-of-mind. As always, kids ages 10 and younger are free with an accompanying adult, though they still need a ticket. When purchasing your tickets online, be sure to add them on, and keep in mind there is a limit of two free children’s tickets per online order.

Grab your tickets online before June 21 to lock in the lowest cost, and start the countdown to this awe-inspiring, family-friendly festival.

If you go to Bumbershoot…

Where: Bumbershoot takes place at Seattle Center, located at 305 Harrison St. in Seattle.

When: Labor Day Weekend, Saturday–Sunday, Aug. 31–Sept. 1, 2024. Doors open daily at 12:30 p.m.

Cost: Single day tickets cost $75; weekend passes are $125; and the deluxe package (which includes weekend admission, parking, a private entrance, re-entry and more) is $350. Ticket prices go up June 21, 2024. Children 10 and younger are free, but still require a ticket.

Facilities: Seattle Center has restrooms in all indoor venue locations, including Cornish Playhouse, The Armory, Fisher Pavilion, SIFF Film Center and KEXP. The indoor facilities all have ADA access and The Armory has accommodations for diaper changes. There will also be outdoor port-a-potties.

More info: Bumbershoot happens rain or shine. Unless you purchase the deluxe package, there is no re-entry allowed. More details can be found on Bumbershoot’s FAQ page.

Getting there: Bumbershoot is a popular summer tradition, so expect the surrounding lower Queen Anne neighborhood to be busy. You may want to consider taking public transit, the Monorail or bike; or plan to park outside of Seattle Center and walk. For additional tips, head to Seattle Center’s getting here page.

Editor’s note: Madison Miller contributed to this article.

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