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Free Spring Break Fun at Seattle Center

Move, dance and play around the globe with cultural programs for kids

Published on: April 04, 2018

Girls dancing at Movin' Around the World
Photo:
Erinn Hale

How about a spring break outing that gets kids moving, introduces artistry from different cultures and costs almost nothing? We'll take it!

Cultural traditions from around the globe will take center stage at the Seattle Center Amory during Movin’ Around the World, a festival of fun for families taking place April 7–13, 11 a.m.–3 p.m. daily.

Set to coincide with the many local school districts' spring break — including Seattle, Bellevue, Renton, Highline and North Shore — this is the first program from Our Big Neighborhood, a partnership between Northwest Folklife and Seattle Center. Local master tradition bearers will teach and demonstrate songs, dances and art to kids and their caregivers during this interactive festival.

“Our goal is to offer really cost-effective programming for families when all of a sudden the kids are around for a week. Everyone can actually participate in dancing and make some art projects while learning about cultures and traditions that exist in our region,” says Anna Buxton, Programs Coordinator at Northwest Folklife.

There is a suggested donation of $5 per person, though everyone is welcome.

Each of the seven days of the festival focuses on a different region or cultural traditions. Visitors can explore dances of India on Monday and the artistic traditions of Polynesia on Wednesday.

But it's not just performances to watch. Local teaching artists get kids moving and learning. Northwest Folklife fans will recognize many performers holding workshops. Kids can learn break dance moves from North City Rockers and tap dance steps from Northwest Tap Connection on Thursday, April 12. Kids can try out African drumming and dancing on Friday, April 13, then join in with Gansango Music & Dance, known for inspiring crowds of people to their feet. Learn Aztec dance with Ixtli White Hawk on Saturday, April 7, and hula on Wednesday, April 11. Several daily hands-on workshops include button-making, weaving, paper flower-making and lots more.

Boy exploring hands on
Credit: Erinn Hale

The event is designed both for families who plan to attend and for Seattle Center visitors who happen to wander in. Each morning starts with either a music or dance performance; there’s a dedicated dance workshop on the dance floor at 12:45 p.m. daily; and the last event is a combination of dance instructors and performers doing demonstrations and teaching participants steps and movements. See the full schedule of performances, workshops and craft stations on the festival's website.

“Staff members station themselves on the outskirts of each performance and activity to look for interested but shy kids. We’ll offer a big smile and wave them into joining in the action. Once I helped a parent coax a toddler to try beatboxing and she ended up performing at the mic,” says Buxton. The Seattle Center Armory has a unique ability to seem big and inviting but also small and intimate for a more one-on-one workshop feel, adds Buxton. So join in and get moving' around the world!

kids dancing at Movin' Around the World
Credit: Erinn Hale

If you go...

When:  Saturday–Friday, April 7–13, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

Where: Seattle Center Armory, 305 Harrison St., Seattle

Cost: Suggested donation of $5 per person, per day, though everyone is welcome

Daily themes:

  • Saturday, April 7: A Bailar: Dances and Traditions of Mexico
  • Sunday, April 8: All Across Europe
  • Monday, April 9: Traditional to Trendy : Dances of India
  • Tuesday, April 10: Expressions of Asia
  • Wednesday, April 11: Polynesian Sounds of the Sea
  • Thursday, April 12: Roots of America
  • Friday, April 13: Celebration of Africa

More schedule details: Visit the Movin' Around the World website or the festival's Facebook page.

Getting there: Pay parking is available at Seattle Center lots or on the street. Consider transit for for stress-free travel.

Tips for parents:

  • There are plenty of tables and chairs surrounding the dance floor, so families that want to stick around all day can bring a lunch and hang out. The Armory also has family-friendly eateries and free wifi.
  • When your kids peer down from the Armory floor and catch a glimpse of the Seattle Children's Museum Mountain exhibit, you might have to promise them a visit. (Tip: There is discounted admission at Seattle Children's Museum from 4–5 p.m., the last hour it's open.)
  • Double your entertainment with tickets to Mo Willems' "Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience" at Seattle Children's Theatre, just kitty corner from the Armory.
  • Explore beyond the Armory and the International Fountain with our age-by-age guide to Seattle Center. Do not miss the epic Artists at Play playground, just east of the Armory.
  • Pacific Science Center's Spring Fling offers scien-terrific fun and runs through April 15 and the International Children's Friendship Festival continues cultural exploration and fosters friendship April 14–15.

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