Oregon’s festival season is springing upon us, which means sunshine and warm weather are within arm’s reach. Oregon has a myriad of festivals hosted around the state each year, but I am going to share with you some our biggest and best music festivals — because music is what makes the world go round, after all.
Oregon has an eclectic mix of music festivals that will satisfy an array of different genre lovers, while also being fun for all ages and reasonably affordable — festivals featuring indie rock, pop, country, bluegrass/folk, electronic, classical, jazz… and the list goes on. We have big festivals that receive national attention and we have lots of little festivals that cater to a local audience.
Waterfront Blues Festival (July 4 – 7, 2019)
The Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland is the largest blues festival on the West Coast. It not only brings a stellar lineup each year, but is the number one fundraiser for the Oregon Food Bank (raising over $10 million and 1,000 tons of food for hunger relief in its 30+ years). The festival has grown steadily in size and reputation each year and is now recognized as one of the nation’s premier blues festival. In 2019 look forward to Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Shemekia Copeland, Trombone Shorty & Oreleans Avenue, MarchFourth Marching Band, Ron Artis II & the Truth and more.
Northwest String Summit (July 18-21, 2019)
Set at the lakeside retreat of Horning’s Hideout in North Plains, just 40 minutes west of Portland, the Northwest String Summit is the ultimate family-friendly festival for jam-band fans. When attendees aren’t busy dancing to the biggest names in bluegrass, there are plenty of other distractions like food and craft vendors, a kids play area and a beer garden, plus wandering peacocks to admire. This year’s showstoppers include Yonder Mountain String Band, Trampled by Turtles, Galactic and Fruition.
PDX Pop Now! (July 20-21, 2019)
Celebrating 16 years in 2019, PDX Pop Now! is Portland’s premier all-ages art and music festival. The free event runs for two days at AudioCinema, under the Hawthorne Bridge, with heaps of music, vendors, food and games to keep the whole family entertained. Best of all, it’s for a great cause; the organization provides educational programming to schools across Portland.
Vanport Jazz Festival (August 3, 2019)
The Vanport Jazz Festival pays tribute to the former city of Vanport, which was destroyed by flooding in 1948, and its once thriving jazz music scene. Held near the historic site at Colwood Golf Center, the festival is a cultural revival of Vanport, featuring renowned jazz musicians and artists. Gracing the stage in 2019 are Jazz Funk Soul, Eric Darius, Euge Groove, The Queens of Soul Jazz, Andy Stokes and WAR.
Pickathon (August 2-4, 2019)
Pickathon, the “biggest little music festival in the Northwest,” is a truly unique multi-day outdoor music experience, taking place each year at the beautiful Pendarvis Farm in Happy Valley (about 30 minutes outside of Portland). While Pendarvis Farm’s 80 acres offers plenty of space, Pickathon wants to remain intimate by offering only 3,500 tickets. It’s also the first outdoor music festival in the U.S. to go plastic free. With over 50 bands representing just about every genre of music and multiple hand-built stages (art pieces of themselves), the music never stops. Pickathon is also family-friendly; kids under 12 get in free with their families and can choose from a jammed-packed schedule of activities, including 3.5 miles of LED-lighted trails. This year, get excited for Phil Lesh & the Terrapin Family Band, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Kruangbin, Fruit Bats, Laura Veirs, Black Belt Eagle Scout and many others.
Oregon Bach Festival (June 28 – July 13, 2019)
This festival is an annual celebration that celebrates the music and legacy of Johann Sebastian Bach. Based in Eugene, The University of Oregon presents three weeks of an unequaled environment of performance, discovery and community. See and hear the best the classical music world has to offer, from masterworks for chorus and orchestra to rare gems from the vast classical repertoire, performed by internationally heralded music stars under the direction of Helmuth Rilling.
Oregon Country Fair (July 12-14, 2019)
Celebrating 50 years in 2019, the Fair is a three-day celebration of counterculture art, music and food. The labyrinth layout leads to more than 700 artisans, 75 food booths and 12 stages featuring musicians, magicians and acrobats. Nourish your mind, body and soul. This anniversary year brings legendary Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead, homestate heroes The Dandy Warhols and electronic music favorite The Polish Ambassador to the main stage.
Oregon Jamboree (August 2-4, 2019)
This the Northwest’s unrivaled country music and camping festival set among 20 acres on the foothills of the scenic Cascade Mountains. The Jamboree offers a full festival experience in the main venue and a more intimate atmosphere on the second stage area. Every year some of the biggest names in country perform at this family-style event, which draws attendees from all of the United States.
Walnut City Music Festival (August 30-31, 2019)
The Walnut City Music Festival takes place in McMinnville, the heart of Oregon wine country, with a mission to build a new amphitheater in the city’s green space. This year’s musicians include Seratones, The Yawpers, Valley Queen, The Deltaz, The Solarists and Sunny War.
Astoria Music Festival (June 22-30, 2019)
With more than 90 musicians performing opera, symphonic and chamber music, the Astoria Music Festival celebrates all the classical greats in two weeks of concerts. Anyone who appreciates Astoria’s small town elegance can imagine listening to first-rate classical musicians in the art deco grandeur of the historic Liberty Theater.
Oregon Coast Music Festival (July 13-27, 2019)
Each year for two weeks in July, the small coastal town of Coos Bay comes alive with the sounds of music for the Oregon Coast Music Festival (OCMF). During week one attendees are treated to the sounds of big band, blues, barbershop, folk and jazz among others. Bands, choirs, quartets and solo performers spend the week playing at venues throughout the town. Week two is where the real musical magic begins when over 80 professional orchestral players, regional and national, come together to perform three orchestral pieces, including a family-friendly POPS Concert.
Britt Music Festival (June 13 – September 15, 2019)
Britt is a non-profit performing arts festival located in the historic, charming town of Jacksonville. It’s one of the Pacific Northwest’s premier outdoor music and arts festival featuring world-class jazz, folk, country, pop, dance and classical music artists. The Britt’s performance venue is a naturally formed amphitheater set among spectacular natural scenery. This festival brings tens of thousands of music lovers from all over the West to enjoy the world-class performances, educational programs and a casual, beautiful and relaxing atmosphere. Get excited for the likes of Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Umphrey’s McGee, John Butler Trio, CAKE, Gov’t Mule and much more.
4 Peaks Music Festival (June 20-23, 2019)
This festival gets its name from the four Cascade Mountain peaks that form a majestic backdrop at the venue: Broken Top, South, Middle and North Sister. The festival strives to bring nationally touring bands to Central Oregon to create an intimate and family-friendly community experience for both the attendees and artists. This year features The Wood Brothers, Billy Strings and Los Lobos, among others.
Sisters Folk Festival (September 6-8, 2019)
As if you needed another reason to visit the sweet community of Sisters, the annual folk festival has all the string music to make your heart sing. For 2019, the festival hosts Bruce Cockburn, Le Vent Du Nord, Rising Appalachia and more. In between sets, explore the art created by students in a collaboration between Sisters Folk Festival and local schools.
Pendleton Whisky Music Fest (July 13, 2019)
When the world-famous Pendleton Whisky puts on a music festival, you know the outcome will be epic. Now in its third year, the Pendleton Whisky Music Fest has attracted big names every year, and it shows no signs of slowing down. In 2019 Post Malone headlines the festival, which takes place at the Pendleton Round-Up Grounds just one month before the annual rodeo.
Juniper Jam (August 31, 2019)
For 11 years, the Juniper Jam has drawn songwriters and musicians to Enterprise for “the sweetest little music festival in Eastern Oregon.” With the awe-inspiring Wallowa Mountains as the backdrop, the Juniper Jam is a humble gathering with a lot to celebrate. MAITA, Far Out West and King Cardinal are some of the featured acts.
So, now that you’re a little more in tune with Oregon’s music festivals, I hope you’ll invite your friends and family and come experience one of them firsthand. Start your music trip planning!