Top 5 NW Summer Music Festivals
With sunny weather forecasted for this weekend, I thought it might be a great time to take a look at some of my favorite annual Summer music festivals around the northwest. Of the five that I picked as my tops, three are huge, corporate-sponsored affairs that can be a bit of a challenge for my forty-something patience and sense of personal space, but that’s balanced by two tiny little gems that present a much more personal experience for the festival goer. Now, where are my sunglasses?
May 25 – 28 : The Gorge Amphitheater, George, WA (sold-out)
The Gorge Amphitheatre is just about the most gorgeous outdoor venue in the world. Located on the edge of a cliff on the Columbia River gorge near George, Washington, it’s a nine-time winner of Pollstar Magazine’s award for Best Outdoor Music Venue and is nominated once again this year. The Gorge has played host to the Sasquatch! Music Festival for the past ten years.
The 2012 vintage shows headlining notes of Jack White, Beck and Bon Iver with hints of the Shins and Little Dragon. See the full flavor profile on their website or check out our recommended schedule if it’s too much for you to take in. This one is a monster, but keep in mind that half the fun of music festivals is wandering around, discovering new bands & making new friends, so don’t sweat it if two of your faves are scheduled at the same time.
Thanks to Pindobussu for putting together this video preview of artists performing at Sasquatch! 2012
CAPITOL HILL BLOCK PARTY
July 20 – 22 : Downtown Seattle
The 16th annual Block Party will be a 3-day, 6-stage, 120 artist urban bash spanning 6-city blocks of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. A partial lineup has been announced including Neko Case, Phantogram, The Lumineers, Grimes, Porcelain Raft and Father John Misty, but additions to this are guaranteed to follow soon. I’ll update when that happens.
August 3 – 5 : Pendarvis Farm, near Portland, OR
Continuous three day weekend of “indie roots music” presented on 6 stages (Mt. View Stage [outdoor], Fir Meadows Stage [outdoor], The Woods Stage [Solar Powered - outdoor], Starlight Stage [All Ages - Late Night - outdoor], the Galaxy Barn [indoor], and the Workshop Barn [indoor workshops]. The Galaxy Barn stage becomes a late-night (21+) venue at 9pm until 2AM. Pickathon features several musical workshops taught by the performing artists. The 2012 lineup features Neko Case, Dr. Dog, Blitzen Trapper, the Cave Singers and TheeSatisfaction (!!).
Pendarvis Farm provides lush meadow and forested campgrounds with hiking, audience views of Mt. Hood, local food and goods vendors, three unique beer gardens, beautiful site and stage designs, free drinking water, an array of shade and venue covering, and much more.
DOE BAY FEST
August 9 – 12 : Doe Bay Resort, Orcas Island, WA (sold-out)
Each summer for the past four years, Doe Bay Resort and Retreat on Orcas Island has transformed itself into a Mecca for northwest music lovers. This weekend festival with two stages features an extensive line-up of musicians, local cuisine, camping and activities in one of the most unique and picturesque venues the Northwest has to offer.
Smaller even than Pickathon, this one qualifies as tiny (-1000 guests) and is really something special. There are very few barriers between the artists and the festival goers. Everyone camps together, eats together and hangs out together at the beach or the (clothing optional) geothermally-heated tubs. Security, what little there is, has never been needed. It’s as close to a musical nirvana as I’ve ever experienced.
For the past two years, remaining tickets for Doe Bay Fest have sold out in less than five minutes of their release (Doe Bay pre-sells tickets to visiting guests who stay at the resort throughout the slower Winter months). The most remarkable aspect of their selling out so quickly is that tickets are sold solely on the reputation of the festival since they don’t announce the lineup before tickets are sold.
BUMBERSHOOT : Seattle’s Music & Arts Festival
September 1 – 3 : Seattle Center
Since 1971, Bumbershoot has drawn artists representing the best in music, film, comedy, spoken word, dance, theatre, performance, and visual arts to the Seattle Center over Labor Day weekend. North America’s largest urban arts festival, with over 100 musical acts across six stages, Bumbershoot takes place in the heart of the city at the 74-acre Seattle Center. Over 100,000 visitors from near and far spend the weekend reveling in the world of Bumbershoot, experiencing everything from regional favorites to international superstars across all arts disciplines.
Check out the Bumbershoot 2012 initial lineup video below (there will be more artists added), then buy your tickets at http://bit.ly/IO33Ec. If you’re thinking about grabbing premium tickets, check out our article “The Platinum Side of Bumbershoot” from last year.
Runner-Up: MUSICFEST NW
September 5 – 9 : Portland, OR
Portland’s largest and most successful music festival turns 12 this year and is promising to be bigger than ever! Produced by Willamette Week, MFNW teams up with music professionals from the local, regional, and national music scene to curate this multi-venue festival featuring bands from indie, hip hop, punk and more musical backgrounds.
Why runner-up, you ask, Mr. Portlandia? It’s mostly indoors, and spread amongst multiple venues all around town. Usually a KILLER lineup, but it’s almost impossible to move from venue to venue quick enough to catch all the shows that you want to see.