When the rain finally stops in May, the people of Oregon gear up for a full summer of non-stop fun. Portland seems like one continuous festival, with something happening every week from food and wine to foreign films and music. But the action isn’t limited to Portland. Most other towns along the coast and in the mountains put on a handful of small-town festivals to cut loose. As one might expect, craft beers play a role in almost every festival, while wine and food are rarely far behind.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
The little arts town of Ashland hosts one of America’s top Shakespeare festivals each year from February through November. A professional repertory performs around 11 different plays during the season, including a few by Shakespeare himself of course. The main venue, an outdoor authentic theater in the round, is a highlight of the performances as well. Special lectures, tours of the theater, and other events keep Ashland in a theatrical mood all summer long.
Portland International Film Festival
This non-competitive movie festival in Oregon attracts around 100 films from 30 countries every year. Screenings take place in the NW Film Center and several other nice venues around Portland over the course of a week in February. As the focus of this festival is primarily films from outside the US, it’s a great chance to see some creative work being done in other cultures.
Portland Rose Festival
Portland’s big summer festival is actually an umbrella for dozens of different events spread over the months of May and June. Flowers certainly play a role, especially in the big event known as the Grand Floral Parade. Other highlights include the Starlight Parade, Waterfront Village, and Rose Festival Court. This is a great time to be in Portland.
Oregon Brewer’s Fest
Oregon is known as one of the leading lights in America’s craft beer movement, and for four days every July the city of Portland invites the best and brightest from around the state to show off their skills. The McCall Waterfront Park transforms into a giant outdoor carnival with beer tasting at its core. More than 70 breweries attend, backed up by loads of great food and live music in the most perfect outdoor setting one could imagine for sampling hundreds of beers.
Bend Fall Festival
Fall in Bend is one of the most magical seasons in this mountain town. Every October they throw one last party before the winter sets in at the lovely outdoor amphitheater park. The festival covers all kinds of events, from craft beer tastings to a craft marketplace. Loads of kid activities make this a prime event for families, but there is also gourmet food to sample, live bands, and even green building workshops.
Northwest Food & Wine Festival
You can experience the bounty of Oregon’s coast, valley farms, and vineyards in one convenient spot every November in Portland’s Memorial Coliseum. Gourmet dishes from 50 restaurants around the state and wines from most of Oregon’s wineries are offered up to the public. Chefs and vintners are on hand to answer questions, and many products are for sale. Live music fills the background.