AskDefine | Define bumbershoot

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings


Apparently a variation on UMBrella + paraCHUTE; primarily British usage. Others note that it is definitely not British in origin; see:


  1. A whimsical term for an umbrella.
    It smells like rain. Perhaps we should take along a bumbershoot.


  • 1912, L. Frank Baum, Sky Island
    "It--it belongs in our family," said Button-Bright, beginning to eat and speaking between bites. "This umbrella has been in our family years, an' years, an' years. But it was tucked away up in our attic an' no one ever used it 'cause it wasn't pretty."
    "Don't blame 'em much," remarked Cap'n Bill, gazing at it curiously. "It's a pretty old-lookin' bumbershoot."
  • 1968, Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman (lyrics), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
    "Me ol' bamboo, me ol' bamboo, you'd better never bother with me ol' bamboo, you can have me hat or me bumbershoot, but you'd better never bother with me ol' bamboo."

Extensive Definition

Bumbershoot is also another name for an umbrella.
Bumbershoot is an annual international music and arts festival held in Seattle, Washington. One of North America's largest such festivals, it takes place every Labor Day weekend at the 74-acre (299,000 m²) Seattle Center, which was built for the 1962 World's Fair. Seattle Center includes indoor theaters, outdoor stages, McCaw Hall, and Memorial Stadium. The name of the festival was taken from bumbershoot, a colloquial term for umbrella, probably coined in the 19th century as a portmanteau of umbrella and parachute.

The early years

Bumbershoot began as a city-funded ($25,000 budget) arts and music festival called "Mayor's Arts Festival", also known as "Festival '71", held at Seattle Center on August 13-15, 1971. This event had a total attendance of 125,000 visitors. Amidst the local economic depression triggered by the near collapse of Boeing, the festival attempted to revive local spirits, and was the largest event held in Seattle Center since the 1962 World's Fair. Liberal talk radio host Irving Clark Jr. chaired the fair committee, and avant-garde impressario Anne Focke used one-fifth of that for light shows (which incorporated lasers, still something of a novelty at that time), computer graphics, enormous inflatable soft sculptures by the Land Truth Company, and an electronic jam session. Other events included dance, theater, folk music, arts and crafts, art cars, body painting, a Miss Hot Pants Contest, amateur motorcycle races, and one out-of-town performer: country singer Sheb Wooley. a mid-1980s attempt by Seattle Center itself to wrest back control was overruled by the City Council. As the One Reel Vaudeville Show, they had been involved in the event since its second year, 1972, but with their new role as festival producer came big change. Once again the festival again featured headlining national and international talent (acts that year included Emmylou Harris, Chuck Berry, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Etta James, Clifton Chenier, Eugene Fodor and Martin Mull), but added an admission charge. Initially that admission charge was US$2.50 a day
The new formula featured world-class acts while continuing to ground the festival on a bedrock of Pacific Northwest talent. Record numbers of art and music lovers flocked to the 15 stages, galleries, outdoor venues and food, art and craft vendors. Artists such as The Eurythmics, James Brown, Spinal Tap and Tina Turner shared the turf with art oddities like the gigantic flying pencil, the Bumbernationals soapbox derby and robotic art. Although initially resistant to hip hop, in the mid-'90s Bumbershoot introduced some of the first large-scale hip hop shows ever held in Seattle, a tradition that's still very much alive in 2007. From the ashes of the grunge rock scene came a new brand of Seattle sound; influential alternative rock bands such as Sleater Kinney, Modest Mouse, and Death Cab for Cutie have played Bumbershoot.
In the new millennium, international artists have included groups such as Baba Maal, The Grand Kabuki Theatre of Japan, and an Ethiopian youth circus. The One Reel Film Festival, held within Bumbershoot, celebrates American independent film shorts. Bumbershoot incorporated new arts forms such as poetry slams and break dancing as well as older arts such as circus, contortion, aerial, and street theater.
As the largest single showcase for regional talent, Bumbershoot became a cultural tastemaker. The festival—which has become Seattle's longest-lived music and arts festival—paved the way for other Seattle-area outdoor events, festivals, and happenings. Many of these, such as the Northwest Folklife Festival that premiered at Seattle Center on Memorial Day weekend the following year, have become established traditions in their own right..



External links

bumbershoot in Slovak: Bumbershoot
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