Ready your FREE HUGS signs, Bumbershoot is returning to the Seattle Center Labor Day Weekend, September 2-3. 

This will be the first Bumbershoot under new production partner New Rising Sun and the 50th installment of the festival itself.

There hasn’t been a Bumbershoot since 2019, and that’s not just because of COVID. The festival was struggling with financial problems, production shakeups, and low attendance for years and when event promoter AEG declined to renew their contract in 2019, after taking over main production duties from One Reel in 2015, the Seattle Center and One Reel decided to reassess. They put out a call for proposals in the fall of 2021 and New Rising Sun, a collective founded by Neumos and Barboza co-owner Steven Severin, Museum of Museums and Vital 5 Productions founder Greg Lundgren, and McCaw Hall’s general manager Joe Paganelli won out months later.

In a press release, Severin says they’ve been considering past problems and criticisms.

“We heard from our community and took action—fulfilling our promise of affordability and inclusivity. When re-imagining our festival for this return, we examined everything through an arts lens and expanded upon what art is and can be. We look forward to sharing our vision this Labor Day weekend." 

One noticeable change is lower ticket prices—$50 one-day and $85 two-day early bird tickets go on sale Friday, February 24. Even when prices increase in the coming months, costs max out at $85 for a single-day ticket and $130 for two-day passes. Tickets for Bumbershoot 2019 were $109 for a one-day pass, $165 for a two-day pass, and $220 for a three-day pass, with VIP tickets available for $175-$275 per day.

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A post shared by Fuchsia Lin (@secrettigersmile)

New Rising Sun promises a stronger focus on art, too. The current lineup includes fashion designers Janelle Abbott and Fuchsia Lin (who designed the quinceanera dress above, so fucking cool), a witch temple from Ylva Mara Radziszewski and Kiki Robinson of the Living Altar, SOS Professional Wrestling, and a pole dancing program from the AERO Space and Ascendance Studios (see below, also cool).

There will also be "a large-scale group exhibition" called Out of Sight in Fisher Pavilion and a Bumbershoot 50th Anniversary Retrospective, "a visual and atmospheric reflection on Bumbershoot’s half-century of history as told through crowd-sourced photography, posters, and memorabilia."

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A post shared by Ascendance Pole & Aerial Arts (@ascendancestudios)

As for the music, well, that's still a secret. Organizers aren't saying much beyond that there will be music from both local and touring acts, leaving us to play my favorite festival season pastime ✨speculation✨! I don't know that its their vibe, but so far I'm intrigued by the fact that Botch doesn’t have any more Seattle dates—or plans for Labor Day—listed on their recently announced US tour. Macklmore's US dates are MIA, too, even though he's releasing a new album in a couple of weeks and he has European dates posted through August. I’ve also started inspecting the tour paths for bands playing Chicago's Riot Fest later in September... maybe some of them will be making their way from the West Coast? Man, I love a mystery!

Here's the arts lineup thus far to tide you over: 

Additional creative zones will include: A Fashion District, focused on the Pacific Northwest’s design community with creators working in beauty, apparel and body art such as regional fashion designers Fuchsia Lin and Janelle Abbott, a Nail Art Dome curated by Peka Grayson, runway programs by Laura Cassidy, Nahaan, Mona Real and Ellie Fein, plus Burleskaraoke curated by Ruby Mimosa. The Recess District will redefine the word “play” and blur the lines between performer and performance featuring SOS Professional Wrestling and Roll Around Seatown plus agility performances and more. Some additional offerings include a large-scale sculpture from renowned local artist Wolf Deluxe, and a witch temple curated by Ylva Mara Radziszewski and Kiki Robinson of The Living Altar, featuring tarot, past-life, astrology and palmist readings. The AERO Space and Ascendance Studios will curate a pole dancing program that breaks stereotypes and celebrates pole dancers from throughout the region and prepare to be amazed by BEYOND, the art and technology program curated by Sandy Cioffi and Gretchen Burger of Fearless.