A Complete Guide to Summer Music Festivals in the Pacific Northwest

Every single fest worth knowing, from Memorial Day to Labor Day.


Timber Outdoor Music Festival. Photo by Jason Neuerburg

Music festivals are nothing new. Even before the '60s, when Woodstock imprinted the idea of the festival as a kind of pop cultural touchstone, Americans have gathered in large fields before large stages and received positive vibrations beneath the brilliant blue of a limitless sky. In the last decade, though, these gatherings have begun popping up like dandelions. This is especially true in the Pacific Northwest where the temperate summers, awe-inspiring scenery, and tremendous regional talent can so easily coalesce into magnificence. But the festivals are so many, and a few new ones seem to pop up every year. So to help you navigate the terrain and plan the perfect musical weekend, we present this complete list of the best summer fests in the Northwest.

May

22–25 Northwest Folklife Festival For 44 years, this gathering has celebrated the music and art made by people who make the Northwest home, drawing an estimated 250,000 revelers to Seattle Center each Memorial Day weekend. Fittingly, it remains free for anyone to attend. Seattle Free (donations accepted)
nwfolklife.org
Notable acts: Clinton Fearon and Boogie Down Band, Passenger String Quartet, Eleni Mandell, Mindi Lind, Tomo Nakayama, Cahalen Morrison, Mikey Mike the Rad Scientist

22–25 Sasquatch! Started in 2002, this pop-oriented destination festivals hosts some of the world’s hottest acts in a breathtaking setting, filling the Gorge Amphitheatre with pop, hip-hop, EDM, comedy, and lots of people in costumes. George, Wash. Four-day pass, $350 (camping not included)
sasquatchfestival.com
Notable acts: Kendrick Lamar, Robert Plant, Modest Mouse, Sleater-Kinney, Lana Del Rey, Ryan Adams, St. Vincent

29–30 Volume Music Festival Doggedly regional, this event—hosted by local weekly newspaper The Inlander—features up-and-comers from throughout the Northwest in clubs (and one outdoor stage) around the city. Spokane Weekend pass, $20
volume.inlander.com
Notable acts: Kithkin, Shaprece, Smoke M2D6, Fauna Shade

June

5–7 Camp RAHH! This “summer camp for grown-ups” makes its registrants turn in their phones and focus on an immersive experience that includes arts and crafts, yoga, and hiking, with a bit of music. Sammish Island, Wash. $395 (all-inclusive)
camprahh.com
Notable acts: Zach Fleury, Suzy Sun, Manatee Commune

5–7 Elkfest Continuing to fill the streets of the historic Browne’s Addition neighborhood with music for more than a decade, this grassroots weekend of performances spurns sponsorship and puts truly indie acts front and center. Spokane Free
wedonthaveone.com/the–elk/elkfest/
Notable acts: The Grizzled Mighty, Ayron Jones and the Way, Lyrics Born

5–7 Levitation Vancouver With a delicious blend of psychedelic, electronic, and metal acts, this jam-packed offshoot of Austin’s Psych Fest bends ears and musical boundaries. Vancouver, B.C. Weekend pass, $153
levitation-vancouver.com
Notable acts: The Black Angels, Black Lips, Black Mountain, Dead Moon, Tacocat, La Luz, White Poppy

19–22 What the Festival Held on the 250-acre Wolf Run Ranch in Mt. Hood National Forest, this large-scale beach party features three stages, a wading pool, an illuminated forest, and lots of electronic music. NBC calls it “the millennial generation’s Woodstock.” But if you’re taking your tips from NBC news, this isn’t the place for you. Dufur, Ore. Weekend pass, $250–$350 (parking and camping not included)
whatthefestival.com
Notable acts: Odesza, Machinesdrum, Keys N Krates, TOKiMONSTA

19–20 Solstice Music Festival The Fremont Solstice Fair’s parade, and its nude cyclists, gets the most attention, but the music has become just as titillating an experience on its own—OK, almost as titillating. Seattle Two-day pass, $45
fremontfair.org
Notable acts: Presidents of the United States of America, Deltron 3030

19–28 Victoria International Jazz Fest Jazz, blues, and world-beat music flood the town’s historic streets, as well as 35,000 attendees. Victoria, B.C. Prices vary
jazzvictoria.ca
Notable acts: The Bad Plus plus Joshua Redman, Lisa Fischer and Grand Baton, Pink Martini, Eliane Elias

26–27 Paradiso Festival The largest annual EDM gathering in the Pacific Northwest regularly attracts some of the genre’s premiere DJs. George, Wash. Two-day pass, $185 (camping not included)
paradisofestival.com
Notable acts: Skrillex, Armin Van Buuren, Knife Party and Alesso

Capitol Hill Block Party. Photo by Connie Aramaki (Coco Foto)

July

2–5 Waterfront Blues Festival The largest blues festival west of the Mississippi, this annual event benefits the Oregon Food Bank. Portland Prices vary
waterfrontbluesfest.com
Notable acts: Buddy Guy, Gregg Allman, Galactic, Macy Gray, Allen Toussaint

10–13 Bass Coast Now in its seventh year, this relatively intimate gathering hosts emerging electronic artists on four stages two and a half hours east of Vancouver. Revelers can dance (of course), explore installations, do yoga, or play in the Coldwater River. Merritt, B.C. Weekend pass, $280
basscoast.ca
Notable acts: Zebra Katz, Mat the Alien, Om Unit, Woodhead

10–12 Chinook Fest Summit An offshoot of the Naches, Wash., Chinook Fest (which has now been rebranded Chinook Fest Central and is scheduled for Sept. 11–13), this newcomer promises a lineup built around high-quality regional roots and pop acts. Snoqualmie, Wash. Weekend pass, $120 (camping not included)
chinookfest.com
Notable acts: Allen Stone, Barcelona, Austin Jenckes, Vicci Martinez

10–12 Vancouver Island Musicfest Roots and world music are the focus here, with six stages on the banks of the Tsolum River in the Comox Valley as well as workshops and crafting opportunities. Courtenay, B.C. Weekend passes, $99-169 (camping not included)
islandmusicfest.com
Notable acts: Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, Buddy Guy, Graham Nash, Leftover Salmon

10–12 West Seattle Summer Fest Now in its 33rd year, this community celebration’s musical offerings have become more and more impressive, with some of the region’s most powerful club acts. This year’s lineup—booked by Shadowland owner Ben Jenkins and KEXP DJ Troy Nelson—is no exception. Seattle Free
wsjunction.org/summerfest
Notable acts: The Thermals, The Cave Singers, Vox Mod, S, La Luz

11–12 Ballard Seafood Fest The name might not bring to mind music, but this four-decade-strong event is a culmination of all things Ballard, which of course includes lots of songs . . . to go with your salmon. Seattle Free
seafoodfest.org
Festival lineup TBA

16-19 Pemberton Music Festival Last year New Orleans-based Huka Entertainment revived this long-dormant four-day event set at the foot of Mount Currie in the pastoral Pemberton Valley, 25 minutes from Whistler, with a lineup that put it in league with other big-time destination festivals. It was a rough restart, hampered by organizational miscues and a death, but organizers promise a better experience this year. Pemberton, B.C. Weekend pass, $299 (camping and shuttle not included)
pembertonmusicfestival.com
Notable acts: Kendrick Lamar, The Black Keys, Missy Elliott, Tiesto, The String Cheese Incident

16–18 Timber! Outdoor Music Festival This earth- and ear-friendly gathering features impressive acts from a wide variety of genres in an intimate setting with lots of foliage and canopy. A great alternative to fans unable to secure Doe Bay Fest tickets (see below). Carnation, Wash. Weekend pass, $65 (camping not included)
timbermusicfest.com
Notable acts: The Dead Milkmen, La Luz, Beat Connection, David Bazan, Jon & Josiah (of The Head and the Heart)

17–19 Darrington Bluegrass Festival The longest-running bluegrass event of its kind in the Northwest, this 38-year-old fest has stayed true to its roots and is so esteemed that they named a park after it. Darrington, Wash. Three-day pass, $45 (camping not included)
darringtonbluegrass.com
Notable Acts: The Gibson Brothers, The Gentlemen of Bluegrass, Gold Heart

17–19 Project Pabst Jam-packed with high-caliber pop artists, local food trucks, and massive unicorn statues, this beery event is a gift from the Milwaukee brewer to the city where, it says, the brand was “reborn.” Portland Two-day pass, $75
projectpabst.com
Notable acts: Blondie, Run the Jewels, Buzzcocks, Against Me!, TV on the Radio

17 –19 Vancouver Folk Music Festival The artists who take the eight stages at Jericho Park for this 37-year-old event are as likely to come from Africa as from a neighborhood away—but all uphold the folk ideal of music of the people, by the people, for the people. Vancouver, B.C. Weekend pass, $100-145
thefestival.bc.ca
Notable acts: Taj Mahal, Phosphorescent, Basia Bulat, Blind Pilot, Lucius, Richard Thompson

17–16 Victoria International Busker Festival Now four years old, this unique festival provides a venue for professional street performers from around the globe to take center stage. Victoria, B.C. Free
victoriabuskers.com
Notable acts: Violinist Darth Vader, Basketball Jones, Cate Great, Chocolate Man

17–19 Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival Started in 1988, this gathering brings some of the best blues artists to the Eastern slope of the Cascades. Winthrop, Wash. Weekend pass, $90
winthropbluesfestival.com
Notable acts: Elvin Bishop, Los Lonely Boys, Bobby Rush, Ayron Jones & the Way

18–19 Rock the Shores Just like its name says, this fest brings rock to the beachfront just outside Victoria, a location resplendent with views of Mount Baker and the Olympics. Colwood, B.C. Two-day pass, $149.50
rocktheshores.com
Notable acts: The Black Keys, Jane’s Addiction, Father John Misty, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, TV on the Radio

24–26 PDX Pop Now! It’s more than likely you won’t recognize many of the acts playing this entirely free, entirely all-ages celebration of one of the country’s most eclectic and energized music scenes. That’s by design—and what makes this event great. Portland Free
pdxpopnow.com
Festival lineup TBA

24–26 Capitol Hill Block Party Yes, it is a nightmare for hill residents not into music—who are you? But this annual neighborhood takeover regularly features the city’s most cathartic musical moments from an array of exceedingly hip artists. And for those who don’t have the luxury of exploring club shows throughout the year, it’s a great place to discover fresh local talent. Seattle Weekend pass, $125
capitolhillblockparty.com
Notable acts: RATATAT, TV on the Radio, The Kills, Built to Spill

31–Aug. 2 Pickathon Having long since strayed from its bluegrass moniker, this low-density, low-impact music fest features a wide variety of artists, though its heart and soul is still found in its Americana offerings. Happy Valley, Ore. Weekend pass, $150-270 (camping included)
pickathon.com
Notable acts: Cloud Nothings, Alice Gerrard, Giant Sand, King Tuff, Shabazz Palaces, tUnE-yArDs, Ty Segall

August

6–9 Summer Meltdown Set in the heart of the scenic Darrington Bluegrass Music Park at the Whitehorse Mountain Amphitheater, this fest promises a 40-acre playground for revelers to shake it. Darrington, Wash. Weekend pass, $55-165 (includes camping)
summermeltdownfest.com
Notable acts: STS9, Iration, Tycho, Greensky Bluegrass, Galactic, Sol

6–10 Doe Bay Fest Now in its seventh year, this festival invites top talent from the Northwest (and beyond) to an island for an intimate weekend of camping and music. It’s one of the most sought-after tickets around. Orcas Island, Wash. Four-person ticket packet, $650.10 (all inclusive)
doebayfest.com
Notable acts: Champagne Champagne, Lee Fields & the Expressions, Bryan John Appleby, Motopony, Bhi Bhiman

14-16 Helsing Junction Sleepover With the dissolution of Anacortes’ What the Heck Fest a couple years back, this gathering of K Records artists and friends is the best bet for those looking for put some vitamin D in their D.I.Y. Rochester, Wash. Weekend pass, $65 (camping included)
helsingfarmcsa.com/gather.php
Notable acts: Malaikat Dan Singa, LAKE, Young Pioneers, Calvin Johnson, Tender Forever

14–15 Stopover Festival It may be one of the last stops on the festival circuit, but the diverse lineup, camping opportunities, and local beer prove it’s definitely not least. Walla Walla, Wash. Two-day pass, $199 (camping included)
gentlemenoftheroad.com
Notable acts: Foo Fighters, Mumford & Sons, Flaming Lips, Jenny Lewis

21–23 MusicfestNW Two years after its move out of local clubs and into the city’s Waterfront Park, this festival, created by Willamette Week, focuses on big acts, though it still makes room for locals on its mainstage. Portland Weekend pass, $140
musicfestnw.com
Notable acts: Modest Mouse, Beirut, The Tallest Man on Earth, Twin Shadow, Beat Connection

September

5–7 Bumbershoot Seattle’s premiere celebration of the arts, this massive three-day event has undergone major changes as both its Seattle Center home and the music festival landscape have transformed. But the gathering—which also features film, comedy, and literary events—remains a touchstone for anyone who calls themselves a Seattleite. Seattle Weekend pass, $169.50
bumbershoot.org
Notable acts: The Weeknd, Faith No More, Ellie Goulding, Flying Lotus, Hozier, Ben Harper, Bassnectar, Social Distortion

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