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The Bumbershoot Festival-Goers Guide

Updated on July 28, 2015
relache profile image

Raye was born in New England, grew up in the Mid-Atlantic, spent college out West, and presently publishes Hubs from the Pacific Northwest.

What the heck is a "bumbershoot?"

The term "bumbershoot" is an old slang term for an umbrella, but in this case, it refers to the annual Seattle art and music festival held over several days on Labor Day weekend. Hundreds of musical acts, from unknown solo artists to popular headliners pack each day from start to finish with great music, held simultaneously on various theme stages and in venues around the Seattle Center

Attendees pay one entrance fee and then are able to see whatever musical acts they can catch! Can you think of anyplace else where you could see dozens of musical bands, artists and performances in one day for about $40? If you make it a very busy day, it works out to $1-$2 per act...

Since it's birth in 1971, Bumbershoot has grown into a very large umbrella which offers art shows, spoken word, dramatic and comedic performances, an arts and crafts festival and more alongside the incredible music. Over the years it ranged from one day to as many as eleven days, but now it's been established for many seasons as a fantastically-dense, three-day weekend. Do one day or do them all!

Welcome to Bumbershoot!

Bumbershoot 2015 will take place September 5-7 in Seattle, WA.
Bumbershoot 2015 will take place September 5-7 in Seattle, WA. | Source

2015 Bumbershoot Dates

The 2015 Bumbershoot Festival will take place from September 5th – September 7th (Labor Day Weekend). Tickets are on sale now!

Specialty passes for the weekend and single days are all sold out. Regular three-day admissions and single day admission tickets are still available.

Tips for Attending Bumbershoot

This is gonna be one long day, or a few long days, depending on your budget and individual endurance. Here are some tricks and tips which I've learned over the years which help to get the most out of your Bumbershoot experience.

1) Comfortable shoes - Seattle Center is a nice compact location, but you'll still do a ton of walking around and standing in line.

2) A lawn chair - This will let you park at the outdoor theme stage of your choice and stay comfy all day long. I have a backpack chair and can schlep my stuff all over the site and seat myself at any outdoor stage.

3) A light jacket and/or collapsible umbrella - It may be the least rainy weekend of the year in Seattle, but you still are going to have a chance of rain. Stay dry + stay warm = stay longer!

4) Small binoculars - This lets you get a front-row peek at your favorite musicians even if you get stuck at the back. Totally worth it!

5) A water bottle - Refilling from fountains makes it a lot easier on the wallet over the course of an entire day or weekend, and it reduces trash.

6) Get a babysitter for the little kids - Bumbershoot is hard and noisy if you are an adult, and easily five times as crazy to a small child. Do your little one (and a bunch of total strangers) a favor and leave the children at home with a sitter.

7) Earplugs - sometimes there are just too many overlapping sounds at once. Sometimes you wind up in a spot that's great visually but otherwise too close to part of the PA system. A pair of earplugs lets you keep listening all day long while allowing you to protect your hearing so you can keep coming back year after year.

Saturday Lineup

Bumbershoot's Saturday lineup.  Yes, one ticket would let you see all of these bands if you had a Harry Potter time turner.
Bumbershoot's Saturday lineup. Yes, one ticket would let you see all of these bands if you had a Harry Potter time turner. | Source

Attendance Strategies

If there's one thing that Seattleites and music fans can both agree on, it's that Bumbershoot can be a lot for anyone to take in. There are some well-practiced strategies for attending that long-time fans of the event have developed to help them have a good time without having too much of a good time. Here is a list of ideas for you to consider and possibly incorporate into your own experience.

1) Go for just one day - Pick a day that has the most bands you'd like to see and attend for just that one day. You might be wiped out by the end of it, but it will have been a glorious day.

2) Attend select events each day - Get your hands on the schedule ahead of time and carefully pick and choose which performers you'd like to see.

3) Just do half days - For music fans that want a mix, some have found that just by just going to the earlier half of each day, or the evening half of each day, they get a good variety but don't get burnt out by having to expend the energy that full days require. You might even mix up some early halves with some later ones.

4) Commit to a stage - With theme stages scattered all around the venue, it's possible for fans of a particular musical flavor or genre to camp out in one location and just enjoy band after band in one spot.

Sunday Lineup

The run down from main headliners to tiniest opener for Saturday's stages.
The run down from main headliners to tiniest opener for Saturday's stages. | Source

Extending Your Experience

There are a variety of things which can make Bumbershoot a bit more of a hassle. Here are some suggestions for things you might not want to do at the event.

1) Don't drive your car - Parking down at Seattle Center winds up being either crowded, expensive or impossible to find with an event of this size. Make things easier on yourself and take public transportation. You can get to Seattle Center from numerous bus routes.

2) Go easy on the alcohol - Bumbershoot has no shortage of alcohol sales, but with lots of crowds and very long, busy days, getting wasted can wind up making you miss bands you wanted to see by making you cut short your day. And causing a public nuisance is one of the big things that the cops deal with quickly at an event like this.

3) If you need to take a break, take a break! - There are in-out privileges at Bumbershoot so if you need to escape the crush of people, or the weather or just your energy level is making it so that you can't deal, get outside the event for a bit and see if a break let's you refocus and recharge. It might be nice to sit down somewhere quiet and grab a less-pricey bite to eat too.

Monday Lineup

If you still have the strength and the ears, or maybe you skipped til now, here's Monday's final blowout of bands!
If you still have the strength and the ears, or maybe you skipped til now, here's Monday's final blowout of bands! | Source

The Bumbershoot Site

See what everyone's talking about!

Bumbershoot Fans Sound Off!

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    • profile image

      Mr. Sherman 

      8 years ago

      I would like to see arcade fire, and maybe a couple country acts next year. Wayne Hancock or the like. Anyone care to agree with me?

    • Alternative Prime profile image

      Alternative Prime 

      8 years ago from > California

      I hear the festival can't be beat for the price of admission. Kind of like an all in one entertainment extravaganza for the entire family.

      If you have an interest in arts & crafts or a particular musical preference you can probably find something to pique your interest at the festival.

      Nice hub and very informative.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Bumbershoot means umbrella - especially this year! Great hub, from one Seattlite to another :)

    • Putz Ballard profile image

      Putz Ballard 

      8 years ago

      Sounds like a great event, it seemed to always rain when we had our county fair.

    • bd160900 profile image


      8 years ago from San Diego

      Defiantly need to check this out! Thanks for the info. I thought High Sierra this year and thought it was the best music festival I had ever been to. But this sounds great to. Thanks for the hub!

    • relache profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I didn't although I did manage to get rained on... LOL...

    • J. Kumm profile image

      J. Kumm 

      9 years ago from Washington

      Bumbersooters got soaked this year with about an inch of rain. Seem suiting! Did you make it to the show this year?


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