Bumbershoot's New Ticket Option: Skip the Mainstage, Pay Way Less. Great Idea*

During Beck's mainstage set at Bumbershoot '97, mobs of festival attendees stormed the gates and the security guards to gain access to the over-capacity show at Memorial Stadium. When the dust settled, Bumbershoot changed its policy. And for the last 12 years, access to the evening headliner shows have been controlled by a limited number of wristbands or passes that attendees picked up for free at booths around the Seattle Center campus.

An equally significant Bumbershoot change is what has happened to price of a ticket, which has jumped from $9 to $50, day of show, since '97. This year, Bumbershoot's switching things up again.

In response to post-festival comments from two camps of attendees--those who want to ensure their entrance into the mainstage shows, and those who could care less about the Fergie/Modest Mouse/Jason Mraz sets--Bumbershoot has created a new "economy" ticket that will be good for entrance into all things Bumbershoot, except the mainstage shows. Economy tickets purchased before the day of the show are $22, with regular tickets selling for $40. Day-of-show prices jump to $30 and $50, respectively, with a $30 upgrade available for attendees who decide last-minute that they want to see the headliner. Remember, last year's day-of-show tickets cost $50. Period. For folks with no interest in the mainstage, you've already saved at least $20.

"We think that people are going to be really happy with it," says Aubbie Beal, associate director of One Reel's Festival Division. "It is, after all, what the people asked for."

Children under the age of 10--up from 5--will be allowed entrance to the fest for free this year, too. But children of any age must have a paid ticket to get inside Memorial Stadium. And because the general tickets will be limited to the capacity of Memorial Stadium (22,000), it is conceivable the mainstage sets will sell out before the day of the show.

Beal says the Bumbershoot lineup would be announced within the next two months.

* Yeah, this sounds like a great idea. Something had to change, or at least be experimented with. Bumbershoot at its best is a day of wandering and discovery. You didn't need to look at a schedule to fork over $9. The inevitable surprises were worth it. But at $50 a day? We've seen far fewer buskers, and going to the fest often comes down to whether or not the headliner is worth your $50. At $22? Could be a game-changer. But without seeing the schedule, it's a bit early to say "hell, yes!"

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