Outdoor productions of Shakespeare and other plays are a fun way to experience the arts in the summer time. Bring a picnic, spread a blanket out on the grass, and enjoy! (If you prefer sitting in a chair to on the ground, be sure it’s a low profile chair so you don’t block anyone’s view.)
Although you can see Shakespearean tragedies outdoors, I personally prefer big, rollicking shows outdoors – the comedy and music play better in situations where there are Frisbee players in the far distance, dogs sniffing by, and airplanes flying overhead.
Outdoor theater is a good venue for kids because it gives more leeway for squirming and wiggling than an indoor performance with theater rules. However, you should still endeavor to keep kids quiet and well-behaved. Most of the shows listed here are good for ages 7 or 8 and up, but I would save King Lear and Henry IV for teens and up. We have brought preschoolers to shows, but don’t expect them to pay full attention – bring snacks, toys, and sticker books to entertain them quietly.
July 14 and 15 is the Seattle Outdoor Theatre Festival in Volunteer Park in Seattle, which features performances from Wooden O and Greenstage (see above) plus Last Leaf, Theatre Schmeater, Jet City Improv, 14/48 projects, Freehold, and Young Shakespeare Workshop. Our favorite for years has been Jet City Improv’s Lost Folio, where they improvise Shakespeare (yes, dialect and all) based on suggestions from the audience. Free, please donate to support it!
Greenstage Shakespeare in the Park is performing Henry IV, part 1 and the Three Musketeers this year in Burien, Fall City, Lynnwoood, Maple Valley, and Seattle; their smaller scale Backyard Bard performances are of Two Gentlemen of Verona and Winter’s Tale at various Seattle parks. Season runs July 13 – August 18. Free, please donate!
Outdoor Trek becomes Outdoor Star Wars… For the past several years, Hello Earth has performed live an episode of Star Trek The Original Series. Simple props like hula hoop and streamer transporters are surprisingly effective and always entertaining. This year they’re doing Star Wars – A New Hope. Blanche Lavizzo park in Seattle. August 4 – 26. Free. (Donate!!) Schedule here.
Snoqualmie Falls Forest Theatre is doing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. July 14 – August 19. $10 to $20. Ages 5 and under free. Optional dinner 5 – 18 per person. Can combine nicely with a day trip to Snoqualmie Falls.
Theater Schmeater. July 14 – August 18. Pinocchio – Seattle parks, free.
Wooden O is doing King Lear and Merry Wives of Windsor (set in swinging 60’s London). (Learn more.) July 12 – August 12. In Bellevue, Des Moines, Edmonds, Federal Way, Issaquah, Lynnwood, Mercer Island, Seattle. Free but please donate so they can keep doing them for another 25 years!
Day Trips or Overnights
Island Shakespeare Festival – Langley. July 14 – September 3. Thursdays – Sundays. Sense & Sensibility, Othello, Twelfth Night. Free. (Donate!)
Kitsap Forest Theatre (near Bremerton) is doing Tuck Everlasting the Musical. (They did Peter Pan on the weekends from Memorial Day to Father’s Day.) Saturdays and Sundays 2 pm, July 28 – August 19. $10 – 20, 6 and under free.
Leavenworth Summer Theatre is presenting Sound of Music, My Fair Lady and Little Women. July 6 – August 30, Tuesdays – Sundays. $14 – 32.
Skagit River Shakespeare Festival (near La Conner, SW of Mt. Vernon). July 13 – August 18. King Lear, Titus Andronicus, the Grimm Shakespearean Tales of Uncle Dicky. $10 – 13.
Other Summer Arts Opportunities
Library Summer Reading Programs
Library programs for ages 3 – 12 happen all summer long, and include story time and much more.
King County library: This year’s theme is Libraries Rock, so the shows are all music or sound related. Go to this page https://kcls.bibliocommons.com/events/search/index, and you can filter for events that work for you, or type the name of a show you want to see into the search bar at the top of the page. Some theater style shows to consider: Bing Bang Boom, Fiddler in the Forest, Magic Sound Show, Musicians of Bremen, Reading Magic Show, and Too Much Noise.
The Seattle Public Library summer reading theme this year is “Make a Splash.” Check out Thumbelina, the Vain Little Mouse, Stellaluna, and more.
I have a full post about cinema morning movies, outdoor movies in the parks, and drive-in theaters: https://gooddayswithkids.com/2018/06/08/summer-movies-2018/
Red Tricycle has already assembled this great Guide to Free (and Cheap) Summer Concerts. It includes info about kid-friendly concerts – some free, some pricey. At the Ballard Locks, the zoo, Issaquah’s Spring Free trampoline, U Village, downtown Seattle, Seattle Center, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Kirkland, Issaquah, Sammamish, Everett, Kenmore, Redmond, and Tukwila. Also check out ParentMap’s listings: www.parentmap.com/article/outdoor-summer-entertainment-for-families-seattle-eastside-north-sound
Other Activities for Kids in the Seattle area:
If you’re looking for other fun ideas for the summer, check out my series on “Cheap Dates with Toddlers and Young Kids”, or reviews of Eastside Parks or find hands-on STEM enrichment activities for kids age 3 – 7 at www.InventorsOfTomorrow.com.
For school year activities, if you have kids age birth to 7, check out info about info about fabulous classes at local community colleges that are great for kids AND include parent education for you,- register now before they fill up!!