Arts | Outings + Activities

Show and Tell: The Moisture Festival

Moisture Festival: Saffi Watson/Michelle Bates

The bottom line

Now in its 11th year, Seattle’s Moisture Festival is a once-a-year event with a wide repertoire of performances. The matinee comedy/varietè shows, staged at Hale's Palladium in Seattle, are perfect for all ages, with about 10 short acts that showcase everything from aerial acrobatics to juggling to comedy to science exploration (yes, that, too!). Don't miss it.


I took my 5-year-old with me to a 3 p.m. varietè show on Sunday and she was thrilled. Except for one or two vague insinuations (which may have gone over kids' heads anyway) the show was completely family friendly, with very few surprises. (This may not be the case for the later shows. Read more about this below.)

Each varietè show features a different set of acts. Bill Robison opened our show with an act where he tried to rid himself of an invisible yet loud and annoying mosquito that interrupted his ukulele performance. Much laughter ensued. (The kids particularly lost it, breaking into loud guffaws at Bill’s fist-fighting sequences with the insect.) Bill went on to MC the rest of the show.

From cowboy comedy to parenting humor and musical banter to aerial acrobatics the varied performances kept us on the edge of our seats. Audience participation was high, through singalongs, laughter and applause. Some "lucky" audience members were invited on stage to perform special feats for the rest of us.

While there were a few comic and juggling performance oopsies, there were also impeccable performances, such as Vivian Tam’s aerial act and Alex Zerbe’s crazy Chinese yo-yo moves.

Most comedy/varietè and nighttime varietè shows are performed at Hale’s Palladium while the burlesque shows (adult only, of course) are performed at Broadway Performance Hall in Seattle.

Moisture Festival: Jugglemania/John CornicelloOf special note: Teatro ZinZanni will host an April Fools performance, called the MishMash Circus Bash, in its spiegeltent. For a detailed events calendar, click here. There are also a few ASL interpreted show options.

Parents should know

The 3 p.m. varietè shows are a good show for younger kids, very simple in format and presentation. If you're planning on taking older kids, consider the 7:30 p.m. show; choose the show that you think would be most suitable for your family.

Kids can sit right in front on the carpet just below the stage for an up-close experience. It is fun to watch them jump up with excitement and pick out crazy party strings or confetti. However, there are some sudden loud sounds (whiplash, giant trick ropes) that can be too much for some kids.

Kid quote

“I want a Chinese yo-yo like Zaniac.”

“It was funny.”

“I high-fived the big hand!”


- Doors open a half hour before the show. Be early as seats fill fast and you may find it difficult to sit with your whole party.

- Parking is on the streets and there is also a small event parking lot. The Palladium is wheelchair accessible.

- Since the shows are two hours long a visit to the bathroom before the show is a good idea rather than during the break to avoid lines.

- There are carnival-style snacks and drinks, including Hale's beer (alcoholic options available too!). You can get these at any time during the show as the concessions are all in the theater.

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