Five Ways

Northwest Festival Forecast: May

Make time for outdoor music festivals, traditional canoe races, and maypole dancing.

By Liz Weber May 3, 2017

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With views like this, the stage is only part of the draw at the Sasquatch Music Festival.

Though festivals happen year-round, the number of gatherings around the state jumps in the spring. This month's activities include dancing around a traditional maypole, watching traditional canoe races, or donning a not-so-traditional music-festival bracelet.

Portland: Bridgetown Comedy Festival

Portland's comedy event made its name by showcasing up-and-coming comedians alongside big name acts. While a festival pass is required for most acts, individual tickets will be sold for Lance Bangs Presents Come Laugh With Us on May 6 (featuring comedians Janeane Garofalo, Baron Vaughn and more) and  An Evening with the Guys From Mystery Show 3000 on May 7. This year's three-day event hosts more than 100 comedians from around the country. May 4–7

Leavenworth: Maifest

Though there are as many festivals as brotworst in the Bavarian mountain town, Leavenworth's annual spring festival is a notable combination of old and new. It features maypole dancing, traditional music, and big pints of Bavarian beer, but also hallmarks of modern Pacific Northwest living, like morning yoga and, well, big pints of Bavarian beer. The event stretches down Front Street, from live music at Icicle Brewing to maypole dance lessons at the gazebo, include a salute to mothers (it's Mother's Day!) with free seed packets at Front Street Park. May 12–14

Electric City: Sunbanks Festival

It's a music festival scene but way more laid-back than Sasquatch!, located near the Grand Coulee Dam. The Sunbanks Festival is heavy on Americana and jazz artists, held against the backdrop of Banks Lake, and attendees get access to a lake beach, boat launch, and miniature golf. The party continues throughout the weekend with acts like Billy Stoop and the Dirt Angels, Charlie Butts and the Filter Tips, Lisa Mann and her Really Good Band, and Bakin' Phat. May 18–21

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Sunbanks Festival is the right mixture of laid-back lake vibes and quality blues music.

Coupeville: Penn Cove Water Festival

Taking place on the banks of Penn Cove on Whidbey Island, the Water Festival is an annual gathering of representatives from more than 22 tribes. The festival features canoe racing, family games, crafts displays, oral histories, and traditional music and dance performances. This year will also mark their first Native Spirit Art Show, showcasing prints, carvings, and weavings from Northwest artists. May 20

The Gorge: Sasquatch! Music Festival

The start of summer means the start of big music festivals. Sasquatch! 2017 will bring a few new changes, this year shifting away from classic rock and gearing towards a younger audience at the Gorge. Frank Ocean, Twenty One Pilots, and Chance the Rapper headline the Memorial Day Weekend event, and the event shrinks from four days down to three, though more than 60 acts will perform. Planning on camping? Check out this must-read guide to surviving car-camping, Sasquatch! edition before purchasing your $100 camping ticket. May 26–28

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