Summer in Bend means many different things to different people.
For some, it’s lazy, idyllic days by the riverside, hitting a brewpub or two in the evening then gazing at the stars over the moonlit silhouette of the Cascades.
For others, it’s time to load up a backpack and hit the trails, witnessing the spectacular beauty of the mountains in the most intimate way possible. Or, maybe it’s time to grab your climbing gear and head to the world-renowned Smith Rock. Then there’s mountain-biking, competitive running, horseback riding, et cetera et cetera.
Maybe summer means outdoor concert season for you. Or maybe it means continuing the daily grind then hitting weekend festivals and other fun events with your family. Whatever your fancy, there’s a common denominator here: summer is a good time to be in Bend.
Looking for some specific examples, or for some inspiration to get you excited about the summer ahead? Then look no further than our Definitive Guide to Summer in Bend for 2018.
Bite of Bend and Bite of Bend Beer Run : June 17-22
Bite of Bend is a culinary and cultural extravaganza, formally ushering in the summer with a week of art, music, beer, and some seriously amazing culinary treats.
The festivities kick off June 16 and 17 when top area chefs will vie for the Top Chef Bend crown downtown. Organizers will offer chefs a mystery ingredient that they must assemble into an unforgettable meal within an hour. Will 2017 champion George Morris from Bos Taurus retain his crown? Come find out.
June 17 marks the return of the Bite of Bend 5k Beer Run, something of a cultural institution for Bend. The course winds its way through Drake Park, continuing along the Deschutes River and then back through Columbia Park. Beer from several local breweries, including 10 Barrel, Cascade Lakes, Deschutes and Immersion, will be located at strategic points along the way.
Bite Week, beginning the 18th and continuing through the 22nd, features four days of chefs’ dinners, cooking demonstrations, classes, and cocktail experiences. The streets of Downtown Bend transform into a festival-like scene, with live music, a Conscious Living Showcase, and a marketplace with local products and services.
Check out the event website for further inspiration and more info as the big date approaches.
Summer Soulstice Festival : June 21
Summer technically begins with the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Being in touch with the seasons is an excellent way to enhance your life, and we encourage you to mark the occasion however you see most fit.
One excellent option is to head to Crow Feet Commons, where local artisans, musicians and food trucks will converge for an afternoon and evening of locally-fueled, sun-assisted bliss. Some of Bend’s finest craftspeople will be offering wares aimed at enriching “body, garden, and soul.” The festivities begin at 3 pm.
Pacific Crest Endurance Sports Festival : June 22
Deschutes Dash Sports Festival : July 14
High Cascades 100 : July 21
Haulin’ Aspen : August 11
Want to launch into and blast through the summer with heart-pounding, hair-raising flair? Well, these events may be just the thing for you.
The Pacific Crest Endurance Sports Festival and Deschutes Dash Sports Festival both offer a medley of endurance sports ranging from aquabike to duathlons, triathlons, Beastman, bike racing, trail running, marathons and more.
The High Cascades 100 is the West Coast’s largest single-day endurance mountain-biking event. It features seventy miles of breathtaking mountain bike singletrack with 30 miles of pavement. Haulin’ Aspen is a trail-running extravaganza, featuring a marathon, half-marathon, and 6.5 mile “half as” course, starting and finishing at gorgeous Wanoga Snow Park.
To be fair, although Bend is a mecca for extreme athletes of all stripes, endurance sports definitely aren’t for everyone. But the first two events offer a wide range of races for both children and adults, including “splash and dash” races for kids and 5k and 10k races.
You may also just want to show up in order to catch some of the secondhand adrenaline that is sure to be coursing through the air. The Deschutes Dash, located in the heart of the Old Mill District, is set up particularly for spectators. There will even be Deschutes beer on tap!
4 Peaks Music Festival : June 21-24
When it comes to Bend scenery, nothing is more iconic than the four peaks that form its skyline: Mount Jefferson, Washington, Bachelor, and the South Sister. And as the name implies, this isn’t just another music festival: it’s a festival featuring music that is iconically Central Oregon.
Of course, what exactly constitutes “Central Oregon music” is a fairly subjective thing. But the festival organizers have obviously put a lot of care into selecting a lineup of bands that align with a particular mountain vibe. Headliners include Greensky Bluegrass, North Mississippi Allstars, Nahko and Medicine for the People, Poor Man’s Whisky, The Mother Hips, and many more national and regional bands.
The musical action unfolds across two stages, and the main Cascades stage features unforgettable views of the festival’s namesake four peaks. Organizers strive to make the event highly kid-friendly, with a “Kidlandia” featuring games, crafts, and special performances. There’s a beer tent for adults too. For tickets and more info, visit the event website.
PRIMUS WITH MASTODON AND JJUUJJUU AT LES SCHWAB AMPHITHEATER : June 23
Forgive the block lettering, but this is simply an all-caps kind of event. Primus are legends, featuring arguably the greatest bassist of all time in Les Claypool, while their prowess as a touring band is unquestionable. This is an amazing chance to see them practically in your own backyard–that is, if your backyard had capacity for 8,000 souls with amazing acoustics and views of the Deschutes River.
Mastodon aren’t half-bad themselves: over the years, they’ve garnered a reputation as one of the most innovative and exciting metal outfits of the new millenium. They’ve even snagged a few Grammy nominations along the way. Perhaps more meaningfully, they’ve won four Metal Storm awards. So basically, you’re getting two legendary bands for the price of one.
Then there’s JJUUJJUU, a SoCal Psych-Rock band with a rapidly-growing profile. Check them out here. Trust us: this is going to be a musical event for the ages.
July 4 Pet Parade and Old Fashioned Festival : July 4
After you’re done with endurance sports and Primus, or Primus and endurance sports are done with you, you’re probably ready for something a little more mellow. It’s true that most towns do the 4th of July, and many do it well, but none do it quite like Bend.
To mark our nation’s independence, Downtown literally goes to the dogs for the morning. We’d already suspected that they’re the ones running the show, but this is a unique chance to pay homage to our canine overlords as they strut their stuff down Bend’s streets.
The parade begins at 10 a.m. at City Hall, winding its way to Drake Park, where the festivities continue with music, food, local arts and crafts, and free fun and games for the kiddos. Fireworks will launch later from Pilot Butte–we suggest you leave the dogs at home for that, preferably somewhere sound-protected for their sensitive ears.
For the Love of Pets Benefit Festival : July 7
Events in Bend can tend to follow a fairly predictable themeset: Beer, extreme sports, and pets. Bend residents definitely love their pets, but like any other place, there are many pets who are looking for a place to call home.
This festival supports the efforts of the several local shelters, including Brightside Animal Sanctuary, who care for and advocate for the lives of unhoused pets. There’s an impressive lineup of events scheduled, including dog yoga, a “kissing booth,” raffle and silent auction, “Fare for Felines,” and more. Oh, and there’s also an IPA tasting, just to add a little local color to the proceedings.
Bring your own pet, and don’t be surprised if you end up bringing home a new family member: a number of dogs will be available for adoption at the event. Donations of pet food and other products are also gratefully accepted. Come between 11am to 7pm, and click here for more info and volunteer opportunities.
Munch and Music : Thursdays July 12 – August 16
Free concerts centrally located in Drake Park next to Downtown with food trucks and beer close by. If that sounds like a winning combo, it’s because it is. Why wait for the weekend to let loose a little bit? The music starts at 5:30pm each Thursday. We don’t have a list of performers yet, but head to the event website for more details as summer draws nearer.
Bend Summer Festival : July 13-15
The title says it all: this is The Bend Event of the Summer. If you’re in Bend the weekend of July 13 – 15, you’re either there or you’re a square. Well, not really, but we think you’ll want to show up to join an estimated 75,000 other people in experiencing the sounds, tastes and sights of a city in the full grip of summer fever.
Shall we start with the music? The mainstage on Oregon Street features The Brothers Reed, Grand Royale, JuJu Eyeball, the Boxcar String Band, Corner Gospel Explosion, and a handful more of the region’s best bands. For the hyper-local, go to the Locals Onlys Stage, or hit the Jazz Food and Wine Stage for, yes, jazz, food, and wine, in that order.
Shoppers and lovers of arts and crafts will find plenty to tug at their purse and man-bag strings, with the SOUK back in full splendor. What’s an SOUK, you ask? We’re actually not sure either, and the event website fails to clarify. But one thing’s for sure: there will be a multitude of items from around Bend and around the world that have not been significantly altered by manufacturing. That means, basically, handmade and brought to you with love.
Visual arts lovers will dig the Fine Artist Promenade, while kids will likely be tugging you in the direction of the Family Fun Street. There will, as a matter of course, be food, beer, wine, and the mysterious essence of summer on hand. Come check it out.
The Newberry Event Music and Arts Festival : July 27-29
Located between Sunriver and LaPine just south of Bend, this festival is indeed an Event, with three days of rock, blues, jazz, reggae, folk, bluegrass, art, crafts, beer, wine, camping and good times all around. And all of it is for a good cause: the festival is fully nonprofit, and proceeds support the Oregon chapter of the national Multiple Sclerosis Society. It’s also family-friendly, with kids under 13 admitted free!
The festival lineup has yet to be finalized, but check the festival website for more details as the big weekend draws nearer.
Balloons Over Bend : July 27-29
If you thought that the scenery around Bend couldn’t get any more spectacular, then think again. Imagine a majestic hot air balloon drifting slowly up into the sky as the sun rises above rose-colored mountain peaks. This vision will become reality the weekend of July 27-29.
On the eve of the 27th, hot air balloons will be inflated in the Old Mill District’s Riverbend Park and sent aglow up into the night. The fun continues from there, with additional balloon launches, a children’s festival, and Bend’s annual Bacon and Brew Festival all rolled into one. If that doesn’t sound like a good time, what does? Click here for a full list of events.
Deschutes County Fair and Rodeo : August 1-5
There’s so much going on in and around Bend that we could almost forgive you for overlooking this most quintessential of all summer events. But come on: summer wouldn’t be the same without a visit to the county fair, and this one is going to have one heck of a rodeo to boot.
Head just north of Bend to Redmond and the Deschutes County Fairgrounds to get a taste of the action. This year’s theme is “Cheers to 99 Years”–that’s right, this particular fair is quite the venerable institution. Personally, we suspect that the rodeo will offer the clearest window into the Bend of yore: come for the evening on the 1st through the 4th, and hold on to your cowboy hats and bacon-wrapped corn dogs!
Sunriver Music Festival : August 10-22
We haven’t forgotten you, classical musical lovers, and neither has the Bend region. Go to Sunriver just south of Bend for an unforgettable two weeks of world-class instrumental performances.
Can’t make it to Sunriver? Bend’s Tower Theater and Nazarene Church will also host events related to the festival. More info is available here.
Bend Brewfest : August 16-18
Okay, this is the summer event you’ve really been waiting for. For a significant portion of residents, visitors, and envious onlookers alike, Bend means beer. Fun fact: Bend has more micro-breweries per capita than any other city in the United States.
That wouldn’t mean much if the beer weren’t very good, or all of these microbreweries were pumping out more or less the same product. But Bend beer is some of the most delicious and unique you’ll find anywhere. You’ll find a heck of a lot of excellent cider too. Bend Brewfest features both beverages.
Envision: more than seventy breweries. Close to two hundred unique brews. A dozen of Bend’s finest food trucks. Sun, warmth, and good vibes at Les Schwab Ampitheater. And your chance to help crown the 2018 People’s Choice Award winner.
Bend beer and cider of course feature most heavily, but you’ll also find some brews on tap from elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest and several from further afield. We don’t think you’ll need any further convincing, but check out the event website just in case. Go forth, and be merry.
Art in the High Desert : August 24-26
Did you know that Bend is home to one of the nation’s top ten Fine Art Fairs? Well, it is, and this is that art fair. This is one of Bend’s flagship cultural events, drawing art aficionados from across the country.
What makes Art in the High Desert so special? Well, start with over 100 of some of the finest visual artists in North America. Each item on display is carefully hand-picked by a jury and selected based upon originality, craftsmanship, style and presentation, and overall concept.
One of the most special things about this event is that all of the artists will be on hand to share their stories and pass on their creations to art lovers. There’s another thing: admission is completely free. The event begins at 10am on the 24th at the Old Mill District.
Little Woody Barrel-Aged Beer, Cider & Whiskey Festival : August 31 – September 1
The Little Woody festival has been going strong in Bend for 9 years now, perhaps thanks in part to its endearing title, but more likely due to the excellence of the brews on hand. Then again, maybe barrel-aged beer, cider and whiskey just taste better if you’re wearing a gnome costume, which the organizers encourage you to do.
So what’s the big deal about barrel-aging? There’s a medieval mystique involved–after all, the process has been around for thousands of years. That aside, barrel-aging imparts the quality of the wood–usually oak–onto the drink. The inside of the barrel is often charred slightly to add smokiness and intensity. Lighter charring gives a sweeter product.
The result may not be everybody’s pint glass of pilsner, but this event may just make you a convert. And if you’re one of the many beer, cider, and whiskey lovers who have already become addicted to the unique bliss of barrel-aging, you’ve probably already had this one on your calendar for months now. Show up at noon on either day, and remember your gnome costume. Click here for tickets.