Seattle’s Folk Life Festival | Top 10 Tips For Attending With Kids

There's Way More Than Music At Folk Life

  • Hands on crafting for all ages!! There will be a Markers Space right next to the EPIC playground. These booths are going to have activities geared towards a younger audience. No one wants a craft mess in their own house!!
  • Fashion shows & materials swap, and hands on workshops. Learn about making and altering your clothing. And I thought Folk Life was all about music. You and your kids can get inspired!!
  • Walk the labyrinth! You know I love a labyrinth and Seattle Center has the biggest one I’ve ever seen. Try to walk it as a family… or let your kids run around the Artist’s At Play EPIC play area while you walk the labyrinth.
  • International Fountain. Let the kids dance with water at the HUGE fountain in the middle of Seattle Center.
  • Music too. You can enjoy the sights and sounds of amazing local artist playing their hearts out!

Tips for bringing kids to the Folk Life Festival:

1. Go on kid time.

If they are jazzed about something, move in that direction. Let them lead and you might end up finding something that you would have never expected. This is the top way to NOT LOSE YOUR KID! (When I was little, my mom lost me in a department store, after a long time she found me in the makeup department, looking at lipstick.)

2. Get them a treat early in the outing.

Let them have their cookies, or buy them a trinket at the very beginning— that way you can remind them when they ask you for something else, that “You are holding your treat in your hand.” Or, “Your treat is already in your belly.” This reminds them that you are a very cool parent vs. you saying “No, you have to wait.” which reminds them that you are mean.

3. Have a plan for getting lost.

Make sure your kid knows your phone number, or it’s written on their arm.

Have a conversation about what you want them to do if they get lost from you. I read on the website that there are over 800 volunteers and any of them over 18 have a background check. Point out what vest or shirt the volunteers are wearing and inform your kid that those are the helpers and safe people to ask for help.

Other moms and dads that have kids with them are another good group to turn to for help.

When I’m out and about, if I see a kid who looks lost, I’ll stop in my tracks until I’m sure they have been reunited. I don’t approach the kid, because that terrifies them, most of the time the issue resolves all on its own.

4. Really, bring the stroller. 

If you have a kiddo who is outgrowing the stroller and can walk solo most of the time-- bring it anyway. There will be a lot of people around, which can get overwhelming for people of all ages.

Kids also get tired and having the stroller can save you a long whining walk towards home when you are ready to leave.

You can keep them safe by putting them in and transporting them through crowds.

5. Expect a mini meltdown.

Don't get out of sorts if you or your kid has a meltdown. It's a big deal to go to a festival! It's fun and exciting but kind of scary and loud at the same time. When someone in your party gets upset, remember:

  • Validate how they are feeling. Their emotions are not wrong-even if they are interpreting what's happening differently than you see it.
  • Let them know it's fine for them to be upset, they are not in trouble for being overwhelmed and you are there to support them.
  • Kind and gentle humor is one of the best ways to get someone back to engagement, but this can only work AFTER validation.
  • It will pass. Even if someone is sour for a while, sulking behind will pass if you stay kind and supportive (not pushy) and continue to treat them with kindness and respect.

6. Have dinner pre-made.

You are all going to be wiped out when you get home. Have a dinner of leftovers, cheese and crackers, or order take out before you leave the Seattle Center grounds. That way you can really enjoy the rest of your night with a lighter mental load.

7. Invite Friends. 

What's better than family chaos, than doing it with friends! Keep in plans light and just let folks know that your family will be there and that you would love to bump into them and hang out for a while if all the stars life up.

8. Pack great snacks. 

As a parent the worst thing is opening up the backpack and learning that your kid dislikes everything you have inside. You can really make their day by letting them pick out the snacks at the store the day before.

One time I was at the park and saw a mom friend call her 4 kids over for lunch. She then whipped out unopened bags of shelf stable snack food from Trader Joe's.

Why hadn't I thought of that!?

9. Let yourself have fun too! 

Sometimes parents start taking themselves too seriously. Once boss mode starts it's hard to, do your best to keep yourself in the mood for fun!

Be silly!

Stay chill by making sure to have on your most comfortable shoes, an adorable hat, and an extra layer in case the clouds roll in.

10. Follow your intuition.

You know your kid best. Leave at the right time. If you sense that everyone has had enough and that the MEGA meltdown is coming, it's time to go.

This will enable your whole adventure to be fun.

Use the walk to and from the event to look at flowers, walk along a rock wall, or stop to play in the fountain.


Make Family Memories At Folk Life

Family traditions is part of what makes your family great. If you love music, art, community, and life in the Pacific Northwest then maybe attending Folk Life is a tradition that will feel right for your family.

Have a tip that should be added to this list? Send it my way and I'll update this blog post.


Thanks for reading,



About Amity Kramer

Amity Kramer has been helping families cultivate unconditional love since 2008. She is a Birthing From Within Mentor, Certified Gottman Educator, and founder of Thresholds. Amity leads soulful workshops for families in transition. She also is a practicing birth and postpartum doula which gives her a unique window into the joys and struggles of family life.