OCTOBER 8, 2017

photo by Christopher Nelson

Listen and Learn

Event Passport

Participation is the name of the game at the Seattle Children’s Festival! Families have the option of snagging an Event Passport that takes them on an interactive journey through the Festival. Passports lead participants through all areas of the Festival grounds and includes the schedules for each venue.

Our BIG Neighborhood

Put your artistic skills to the test with the Our Big Neighborhood coloring book sheets! Thanks to our friends at Gage Academy of Art for the designs. Download and print out all three below:

Did you know?

The Seattle Children’s Festival is a great place to learn about different cultures, traditions, and art forms from around the world and our own backyard. Scroll below to explore them all, or jump directly to more information about Music and Song, Dance, or Traditions and More. Happy exploring!


Music and Song

Beatboxing – Beatboxers use their mouth, lips, tongue, and voice to create sounds that sound like a drum machine. There are two basic sounds that are used to create a drum sound: for the kick drum { say ‘boots’ } and for the snare drum { say ‘cats’ }. Now, say them together. Click here to watch beatboxing in action.

Steel Pans – Steel Pans were originally created out of objects such as car parts, paint pots, dustbins, oil drums and biscuit tins. At some point these percussion instruments were melodically tuned and became steel pans. Click here to listen to Steel Pans.

Songster – A Songster is a traveling musician usually playing a banjo, fiddle or guitar. As Songsters passed through towns and cities, they learned to play music for all kinds of occasions, audiences and environments. Click here to listen to some songster.

Marimba – Shona-marimba music was brought to the United States from Zimbabwe more than forty years ago from Duminsani Maraire. He started the first marimba band at the University of Washington, right here in Seattle! Click here to listen to Marimbas.

Jazz – Jazz music is like a musical conversation. Rather than using words, jazz musicians use music to talk with one another. This is called improvisation. Click here to learn more about Jazz.

Afro-Peruvian Percussion – Afro Peruvian percussion instruments were originally created out of the simplest household items such as spoons, chairs, table tops, and handclaps. Anything that made sound could be used as an instrument including a simple box (cajon) or a donkey’s jaw bone (quijada). Click here to watch Monica Rojas & DeCajoli perform.



Hula – In Hawaii, hula has been used for hundreds of years to tell stories of history, myth, and culture from generation to generation. Hula was created long before the Hawaiian people created a system of writing. Instead they communicated through dance and song. Click here to learn more about the Hula.

Flamenco – Flamenco is an art style from Spain that combines music (toque), song (cante), and dance (baile). Dancers stomp their feet, clap their hands, and snap their fingers which adds to the beats in the music. Many dancers improvise their moves to fit the mood and rhythm of the music, making each dance new and unique!

Tap Dancing – Tap is a dance created from metal plates that are attached to a dancer’s shoe. These metal plates, when tapped against a hard surface, create a percussive sound – making these dancers musicians!

Lion Dance – In Vietnam, the Lion Dance (múa lân) is called the unicorn dance. The unicorn is a mythological animal and tradition has it that wherever a unicorn appears, people will have peace, happiness and wealth.


Traditions and More

Pungmul – Pungmul is a type of Korean folk music that combines work and play. Originally created by farmers, Pungmul is known for its colorful costumes and upbeat drumming, led by a kkwaenggwari (small hand gong). The rhythm and dancing of the artists invites prosperity and good luck for all.

Sign Language – American Sign Language (ASL) is the third most widely used language in the U.S. Many people with hearing impairments communicate by using ASL, which combines hand signs, gestures, and facial expressions to create words and sentences.

Origami – Origami comes from two Japanese words – Ori (folded) and Kami (paper). Traditional origami uses a piece of paper in the shape of a square and does not allow any cutting. An ancient Japanese legend says that if you fold one thousand cranes you will be granted a wish.

Crankies – Crankies are an old-fashioned form of a movie! Made by hand and set to music, the paper scrolls through a box and tells a story. Click here to learn more about Crankies.

Capoeira – Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian art form that is a mix of dance, music, martial art, and gymnastics. Cartwheels and handstands are two of the essentials moves in Capoeira. Click here to watch a Capoeira demonstration.