I’ve taken him to the Seafair Parade. We’ve watched the Fourth of Jul-Ivar’s fireworks over Elliott Bay together. We’ve considered watching the hydroplanes from Sam Sayers pits, but have opted for the Blue Angels from our backyard instead.
My 2-year-old son, Vincent, and I revel in Seattle’s summer traditions. We’ve been looking forward to this year’s Bumbershoot since he traded onesies for big-boy pants.
Michele Scoleri, Bumbershoot’s executive and artistic director, says the festival’s promoters strive to create opportunities for their guests to experience as many different types of musical and artistic acts as possible. Throughout the festival’s history, they’ve been “committed to showcasing regional talent with a healthy mix of nationally recognized acts.”
Past Bumbershoots have certainly contained a wide breadth of acts. Years ago, I remember leaving an authentic Creole zydeco showcase to watch then-Issaquah-based band Modest Mouse play at McCaw Hall. I hope to never forget watching David Lee Roth end a full festival day for thousands of screaming fans.
This year’s Bumbershoot headliners include Sheryl Crow, Jason Mraz, Modest Mouse, Katy Perry and The Black Eyed Peas.
The festival isn’t limited to music; attendees expect to see top-notch comedy, dance, and performance, visual and literary arts. Vincent may get to try his new dance moves watching the Pacific Northwest Ballet or one of the many modern dance troupes scheduled to perform this year.
Scoleri says Bumbershoot is a great event for culturally curious people of all ages. To get the most out of the weekend, she recommends attendees “be experimental.” With so many performers and so many acts available in one place, visitors can really expose themselves to new talents. “Do some research,” Scoleri says, “and come see artists you don’t already know.”
Countless music and arts fans who have grown up with the festival are planning to help celebrate Bumbershoot’s 39th year. Many, like me, grew up going to concerts and other shows. Scoleri recognizes parents “now want to share those experiences with their kids.”
Beginning this year, the festival includes programming specifically designed for families. Bumbershoot highlights this child-friendly programming as a festival-within-the-festival called Youngershoot.
Youngershoot is an acknowledgement of the fact that families have different needs at the festival. People have brought their children to Bumbershoot for years.
Each day of the festival will include something children should enjoy. Whether it’s a series of film shorts, child-appropriate music acts, or performance art, Youngershoot will deliver.
“We’re going to publish a separate Youngershoot schedule,” Scoleri says. “A parent can get the full Bumbershoot schedule and a special schedule. Both will be available on the Web site, just to make scheduling easier. You can plan out which events you want to see in advance before coming to the center.”
Youngershoot highlights a musical act each of the three festival days. While the bands may be child-oriented, they’re each highly recommended for the adults in the audience, too. Recess Monkey, The Not-Its! and Central Services’ alter-ego band, the Board of Education, will play their styles of child-friendly rock.
“We tried to manage the placement of kids’ programming in the schedule to meet family needs,” says Scoleri. “Youngershoot programming isn’t too late in the day, for example. The festival gates open at 11 a.m., and kids’ programming begins at noon.”
The Youngershoot schedule includes art, theater and dance exhibits, as well. With careful planning, families should find something for every member to enjoy.
Kid-wrangling at Bumbershoot
A day at the Seattle Center amid the Bumbershoot crowds can frazzle the stoutest parent. North Seattle stay-at-home dad Dan Schultz and his two children, Max and Maya, have survived many center events. Schultz says the key is preparing.
“Don’t forget the basics,” he says. Bring food, water, sunblock and everything else children will need throughout the day. Healthful food and drink will be available for purchase, but outside refreshments are not prohibited, so parents can bring their children’s favorite snacks.
“I always bring a swimsuit and changes of clothes, in case my kids want to play in the fountain,” Schultz says. Bumbershoot events last into the night; parents who don’t want to leave early should make sure their kids can stay warm and dry.
Strollers are allowed at Bumbershoot but may be difficult to maneuver in crowds. Frontpacks or backpacks can offer compact resting places for exhausted children.
Some events may be loud. Children, or parents, with sensitive ears should bring ear plugs or other hearing protection.
Bumbershoot’s Web site contains a special “Children” section on its FAQ page to answer most of the questions parents would have.
Douglas Grey is a full-time dad and sometime writer.
Bumbershoot runs Sept. 5–7 under the Space Needle at the Seattle Center. Through Aug. 21, one-day tickets are $35. Beginning Aug. 22, tickets are $50. Children 5 years old and younger get in for free, and discounted tickets for kids ages 6–10 ($15) are available at the Thomas street and Mercer street entrances only (no advance sales).
To explore the Bumbershoot and Youngershoot schedules, visit bumbershoot.com. The site includes a great FAQ page listing festival rules, including a list of what you can and can’t bring with you.