We can think of at least 363 reasons to visit the Oregon Coast this summer— one for every gorgeous and publicly-accessible mile of it. One look at the map — Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia and Brookings, near the California border — gets us thinking about the squeak of sand under bare feet and the kiss of the breeze rolling in off the Pacific.

But for those of you needing a little encouragement, we suggest you plan your trip around one of the many summer festivals on the coast. Whether you are traveling with your children, your sweety or your friends, Oregon’s coast festivals have a flavor for everyone. Here’s a sampling:

Culture and arts

Kilts will fly with the first Newport Celtic Festival and Highland Games, which honor the heritage of the seven Celtic Nations of Brittany, Cornwall, 
Galicia, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Scotland and Wales. Organizers expect at least 30 professionals to compete in traditional Celtic events — like the kilted run (what it sounds like) the caber toss (basically throwing a tree trunk), Scottish hammer throw and other ancient Celtic sporting events. “These are the original strongman events,” said Liam Hughes, festival organizer. Spectators will also enjoy Celtic food, whiskey tasting, music, folk dancing and lots of kid-specific activities. (June 10-12)

The 44th annual Scandinavian Midsummer Festival in Astoria celebrates the culture brought to Oregon’s shores by immigrants from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and the like. Events include music — featuring Harald Haugaard and Helene Blum of Denmark — dance and theater performances, arts and crafts, and Scandinavian fare. (June 17-19)

Cannon Beach will hold its 3rd annual Plein Air and More with more than two dozen artists creating art on location — painting, photography and sculpture. (June 24-26)

For the art of words, consider the Summer in Words Writers Conference, also in Cannon Beach, with workshops and discussion with Oregon authors. (also June 24-26)

Festivals for families

The Lincoln City Summer Kite Festival, in its 27th year, features gigantic, colorful exhibition kites flown by 25 professional fliers on June 25-26. More than 5,000 spectators will line up to watch the many kite flying demonstrations at the beachside festival. Maggie Conrad, special events coordinator for Lincoln City Visitor and Convention Bureau, recommends the quad-line kite demonstration, which features kites that fly to music. “It’s like a kite ballet,” she said.

For more kiting, check out the Southern Oregon Kite Festival in Brookings. (July 16-17)

The 47th Annual Cannon Beach Sand Castle Contest lets families the chance to create or spectate. A limited 150 participants build in their 21 x 21 foot sandboxes, with many more spectators looking on. (June 18)

Ocean Fest in Reedsport will appeal to the family that paddles together. Featuring races on the Umpqua River for wind kayaks, single pedal and paddle kayaks and tandem pedal and paddle kayaks. The weekend also includes the Bayside Bazaar along Beach Boulevard as well as U.S. Coast Guard demonstrations and gem and quilt shows. (July 18-20)

Off the beaten track

You don’t have to be a windsurfer to be wowed by the Pistol River Wave Bash — the second stop on the American Windsurfing Tour. Chosen for great early season swell and growing summer winds, the Pistol River site just outside of Gold Beach will bring 80 competitors, including several past world champions, to compete in jumping and wave riding. “People are going to be catching massive air,” said Tour Director Sam Bittner. Stand Up Paddling competitions will be held each day, too. (June 16-19)

The Oregon Divisional Chainsaw Sculpting Championships in Reedsport is your first chance to watch professional and semi-pro chainsaw carvers sculpt wood before your eyes. This year’s theme is “Oregon Heritage.” (June 16-19)

SandFest 2011, in North Bend, offers another gasoline-powered kind of fun with ATV racing (for adults and kids), relay races, a treasure hunt and a sand dune slip-n-slide. (June 29-July 3) For more ATV racing, check out DuneFest in Reedsport, also with various races and kid-specific events. (August 3-7)

About the Author: Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin is the editor of Travel Oregon’s Seasonal Features, enewsletters and annual visitor guide. When she’s not cooking up trip ideas, Oregon Dreamer profiles and outdoor adventures to write about, she’s out exploring Oregon.

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  1. laurel says…

    Just back from Beachside State park an Nehalem Bay ./ Had a great time only the service seems to have fallen off since last year. Doggy doo bag dispencers not filled. Often out of towels in Bathrooms. Little or no site clean up when people depart. Still a great place to be and nothing beats the beaches

    Written on June 10th, 2011 / Flag this Comment
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