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, 2018)
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.
Northwest String Summit (July 19-22, 2018)
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.
PDX Pop Now! (July 21-22, 2018)
Celebrating 15 years in 2018, 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 4, 2018)
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 at the historic site, now Portland Meadows, the festival is a cultural revival of Vanport, featuring renowned jazz musicians and artists.
Pickathon (August 3 – 5, 2018)
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.
Oregon Bach Festival (June 29 – July 14, 2018)
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 Jamboree (August 3 – 5, 2018)
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.
Willamette Country Music Festival (August 16 – 19, 2018)
The charming town of Brownsville hosts some big names in country music for the four-day Willamette Country Music Festival. This year legendary band Alabama will grace the stage over the weekend along with Eric Church, Lady Antebellum and Kid Rock.
Walnut City Music Festival (August 31 – September 1, 2018)
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. Indie rockers The Helio Sequence headlines this year’s festivities, along with The Stone Foxes, Kuinka, Ben Rice, Scratchdog Stringband and more.
Astoria Music Festival (June 15 – July 1, 2018)
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 24-28, 2018)
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 25 – August 11, 2018)
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.
Country Crossings Music Festival (July 26-29, 2018)
Big-name country music artists grace the stage at Country Crossings in Central Point. This year the four-day festival brings Cole Swindell, Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley and Eric Church to the charming Jackson County community.
4 Peaks Music Festival (June 21-24, 2018)
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.
Sisters Folk Festival (September 7-9, 2018)
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. In between sets, explore the art created by students in a collaboration between Sisters Folk Festival and local schools.
Pendleton Whisky Music Fest (July 14, 2018)
When the world-famous Pendleton Whisky puts on a music festival, you know the outcome will be epic. Now in its second year, the Pendleton Whisky Music Fest has attracted big names like Maroon 5 and the Zac Brown Band, and it shows no signs of slowing down. The festival takes place at the Pendleton Round-Up Grounds just one month before the annual rodeo.
Juniper Jam (September 1, 2018)
For 10 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.
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!