Concerts, comedy shows, and festivals move back outside this summer, in a big way. Here are our picks for a few of the season’s finest at Portland’s greenspaces.
East Portland Summer Arts Festival, July 9–10
Originally scheduled for summer 2020, this year brings the great (re)launch of the first-ever two-day East Portland Summer Arts Festival at spiffy Ventura Park in Hazelwood—don’t miss the neat public art installations by local artist Pete Beeman while you’re there. Kids will dig the all-ages interactive arts activities, and the parks department says it’s planning a “a killer lineup” with esperanza spalding as the headliner.
Aaron Nigel Smith and Red Yarn, July 30
Kindie musicians Aaron Nigel Smith and Red Yarn, one beloved for his gentle, family-friendly reggae-funk songs and the other an Americana-roots-puppeteering legend in his own time, are on tour together to support their new album collab, Smith & Yarn. They’ll hit Peninsula Park in North Portland for one of the season’s happiest shows—wear your bathing suit for a dash through the splash pad.
Washington Park Summer Festival, August 5–7
Somewhat curtailed from the weeklong programming of years past, the crowd-favorite Washington Park Summer Festival is nevertheless back at the Rose Garden Amphitheater for three nights this summer. Expect flamenco dance from Espacio Flamenco and world-class opera from Portland SummerFest’s Opera in the Park.
DJ Prashant with Jai Ho! Dance Troupe, August 13
Bridgerton’s Sharma sisters, the belles of all the balls, would abandon their quadrilles and throw away their dance cards if they could come rock out instead at this interactive, all-ages dance party at crowd-favorite Laurelhurst Park. The namesake DJ is a former Intel engineer who blends dance music from all cultures into his sets; nab a seat up front for the dance instruction so you too can shake what your mama gave you in sync with the dancers on stage.
Donovan Scribes and Mat Randol, August 26
The Kidz Outside festival, presented by the Gentrification Is WEIRD! project comes to to George Park in St. Johns, featuring multi-hyphenate artist Donovan Scribes and local hip-hop artist Mat Randol, plus 12-year-old rapper J Prodigy. Their goal is to get more people to climb on the bandwagon with the efforts to give a glow-up to this park, a trusty neighborhood anchor that’s showing its age. Expect fun activities including face-painting, foam machines and other family-friendly choices from 6:30-8:30 pm.