Heading to Bumbershoot for the first time? First, I suggest you read our Bumbershoot 101 page, which goes over all the basic information you need to know about Bumbershoot. You can find that article here. This article isn’t going to go over the same, generic information about Bumbershoot. This is our insider tips page, things I wish I had known before going to Bumbershoot for the first time. Think of this as passing information/pro tips to the next generation of Bumbershoot first timers. I hope after reading this and our Bumbershoot 101 article you are absolutely, positively 100% ready to head off to Bumbershoot and have a blast.
Bumbershoot is known by some people who attend as ‘Bumbershit’ because the lines get obnoxiously long (see above). I actually haven’t come across any other music festival where patrons complain about the lines as much as I see it with Bumbershoot. Thus, if you really, really want to see a particular act you are going to need to show up at the act before (or two acts) before that act. For example, if you really wanted to see an act at the Key Arena at 9 p.m. you likely need to show up to the Key Arena for the act going on at 7 at the latest. After each act a good amount of people leave so you will be able to move up. Don’t expect to even be able to show up a half hour before any act at Bumbershoot and get a spot, let alone a good one. If you don’t really care about securing a good spot this isn’t as big of a deal, but if you do have a favorite artist there be sure to go early!
Anytime you send a text message add what time you are sending it at to the text. So say “meet at Key Arena entrance – 9:29”. Phone service sucks sometimes at Bumbershoot and people may not get your text until 40 minutes later if the service is bad at the time. Avoid this becoming an issue by just adding the time your are sending the text at the end. Trust me, this is an easy way to save some headaches at Bumbershoot.
Water is free inside Bumbershoot so be a cool guy and help the environment by bringing an empty bottle with you that you just refill for free. This will also save you money at Bumbershoot – win win! Note that some stages won’t allow outside water so you may have to part with your bottle at that point, but still saves you some money for a bit at Bumbershoot.
There are a lot of reasons to use the Bumbershoot app while at the festival. The main reason is it has the schedule built into it, so you always know who is playing where and when. This prevents you from having to memorize everything or carry around a paper copy of the schedule with you. They’ve added some other cool features to the app and it doesn’t even require Internet now so when there’s no service at Bumbershoot you are still all set!
One quirky thing with Bumbershoot is there are different rules for the festival and Key Arena, where a lot of shows happen. For example, you can bring a water bottle into the festival but not Key Arena. You can bring a skateboard to Bumbershoot but not to Key Arena. Know the little differences and rules between the different areas so you don’t end up having to part way with something or choose to miss a show.
Refer to Bumbershoot Tip #1. If you really want to see a certain comedian you are going to have to show up really early. Bumbershoot hands out comedy passes first thing each day, so if there is a comedian at Bumbershoot you really want to see you are going to have to go to the festival really early and snag a comedy pass. You still will want to show up to the event early, even if you have a comedy pass, unless you want to stand for the show as the seating is quite limited.
Labor Day in Seattle is really busy with people everywhere – take advantage of the Monorail which will get you around the Seattle center quickly and inexpensively. It runs every 10 minutes so you won’t ever need to wait long and waste time at Bumbershoot.
The comedy shows provide a nice, relaxing break from the Bumbershoot music performances. The comedy arena is air conditioned and has nice, cushioned seats. If you are feeling tired head over to a comedy show to relax and recharge.
I’ve mentioned this in other posts, but you really shouldn’t drive to Bumbershoot unless you absolutely have to. Bumbershoot is one of the busiest weekends of the year in Seattle, and it being Labor Day weekend makes Seattle even more busy. Parking is overpriced and fills up very early, so spare yourself a headache and don’t drive to Bumbershoot. If you have to drive, drive to a bus stop a bit away where the bus goes to Bumbershoot or park near a Link Light Rail station. Trust me, you will be happy you did not drive.
Part of what makes Bumbershoot unique is all of the art. Unlike a lot of festivals, Bumbershoot really tries to capture the culture of Seattle through it’s art exhibits. I know you will be spending a lot of itme waiting in lines to see your favorite musicians, but be sure to find some time to go see the great art they have around Bumbershoot.
If you’ve been to a music festival before you know the bathrooms can become quite gross. Bumbershoot is no exception to this rule, although better than some other music festivals. The good part with Bumbershoot is there are legit, non-portapotties located throughout the Seattle Center. From experience, the best bathrooms are at the Children’s Theater in the Seattle Center. You should be able to get right in without having to wait in line, saving you precious time for more Bumbershoot activities.
Comfortable shoes are the #1 tip for apparel; you are going to be waiting in line and walking around a lot at Bumbershoot, so be comfortable!
My final Bumbershoot tip is to make some plans, but don’t try to coordinate your whole day. Ultimately, unless you have VIP passes, you are going to be waiting in line a lot at Bumbershoot and miss some things. Maybe your crew will want to go eat at a certain time, maybe suddenly you will want to go see a comedy show, or maybe you will just get too drunk and need to go home. The point is you aren’t going to be able to fully plan your day, hour by hour. Decide on a few things you want to see for sure and leave some room in the rest of your Bumbershoot day to be spontaneous.
Hopefully after reading this you are feeling ready for Bumbershoot! Follow the tips above and you are sure to have a blast at Bumbershoot, and if you discover any other tips while there be sure to let me know (Shawn@EventTrk.com) and I will add it to the list for future generations.