OLYMPIA – The Hands On Children’s Museum, Washington State’s largest and most-visited children’s museum, is announcing the launch of a new festival to bring more visitors and guests to the museum and the South Sound region all summer long.
Summer Splash!, a new summer-long festival of fun, replaces the popular Sand in the City® format the museum has hosted for the last 15 years. The goal is to expand featured festival activities from just two days at the end of August to three months starting in June.
“Sand in the City® was an amazing two-day community festival, but in many ways, had become a victim of its own success,” said Jocelyn McCabe, president of the Hands On Children’s Museum Board of Directors. “Through the years, the size of the event has grown dramatically and the museum has had to shift more of its resources to event management, rather than providing inspirational hands-on learning activities.”
“The new Summer Splash! format spreads the fun and learning over three months and centers the activities at the museum, rather than on the streets around it,” said McCabe. “With three months of new themes featuring guest performers, artists, events and new activities, we hope the festival will attract visitors to the region throughout June, July and August.”
Museum Executive Director Patty Belmonte said Sand in the City® has grown to become one of Thurston County’s largest events serving 25,000-35,000 visitors in a weekend.
“When the event started, it was a free event designed to introduce the community to the engaging and interactive art and science activities the museum is now widely known for,” said Belmonte. “At the same time, event sponsorships and donations helped to fund the museum’s free- and reduced-access programs year-round.”
The shift to a summer-long festival will create better experiences for museum visitors, spread visitation throughout the summer, allow for new and exciting learning themes, reduce costs and better fund year-round museum access programs, said Belmonte.
All of the major event sponsors will continue to support Summer Splash! headline events and several new activities. And Sand in the City®’s most beloved components, including the display sand sculpture, carved by West Coast artists, will be featured as well. The new festival will also include free access days each month.
Summer Splash! will kick-off in early June with the opening of a national traveling exhibit, Children’s China: Celebrating Culture, Character and Confucius. In July, Sand, Forts & Water Adventures will be featured with master sand carvers returning for a three-day sculpting demonstration to create an outstanding display sculpture. Pirates & Parrots will take over the museum in August featuring a 40-foot-long pirate ship, live parrots and a crow’s nest climbing wall.
Throughout the summer, the museum will also host select performers on both the indoor and outdoor stages. Nonprofit partners will also visit the museum to facilitate some of the most beloved activities. As with Sand in the City®, the Summer Splash! festival will conclude with an adults-only Party with a Purpose Summer Gala at the museum on Friday, Aug. 26.
“With so many new exhibits and activities on the calendar, it’s going to add a whole new element of fun to summer in the South Sound,” said Belmonte.
About the Hands On Children’s Museum The Hands On Children’s Museum is the premier early learning destination in the South Sound region. It serves nearly 300,000 visitors annually, making it the most visited children’s museum in Washington State. The museum’s mission is to stimulate curiosity, creativity and learning through fun, interactive exhibits and programs for children, families and school groups. Its programs and exhibits are designed to encourage interaction and inquiry, as well as participation from the entire family.