What to Do in Oregon in April

Oregon Shakespeare fest opens, tulips bloom, horses plow, and stars come out.

By Dalila Brent, Shannon Daehnke, Michelle Harris, and Margaret Seiler April 1, 2022

Ah, sun-soaked April, our first full month of spring and daylight savings time! You'd be forgiven for simply spending the month moving your picnic blanket around a city park or contenting yourself with a wildflower stroll, but road trips near and far can fill your flower quota, too, or fill you with cheese or land you in an open-air theater at the Shakespeare Fest.

Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest

9 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon–Fri, 8 a.m.–7 p.m. Sat–Sun, through May 1, Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, 33814 S Meridian Rd, Woodburn

It’s tulip time in Oregon, so grab a good pair of walking shoes and get your cameras ready for the 38th annual Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival. Spend the day wandering around 40 acres of colorful tulip fields with more than 100 varieties, and take silly family photos you might regret later at the cutout board. Not in the mood for walking? Take a ride on the Tulip Tour Train ($10 per person, noon–5 p.m. daily), which has several photo stops. Other activities include wooden shoe making demonstrations, the infamous duck races, and hot air balloons (if weather allows). Visit the Tulip Market and Field Greenhouse Tent for flower purchases. Those over 21 can take a guided tour of Wooden Shoe Vineyards and enjoy wine pairings along the way. Tickets for the wine tour start at $60, while individual entry tickets for the festival vary by age and day. All tickets must be bought online in advance.  

Plowing with Horses and Mules at Champoeg State Heritage Area

9 a.m.–3 p.m. Saturday, Apr 2, 8239 Champoeg Rd NE, St. Paul
Sure, that modern John Deere has its charms, but for a dose of agriculture's past head to Champoeg for this living history presentation, where horses and mule teams will pull 19th-century equipment to plow, disc, and plant a wheat field. The state park, on the site of a since-washed-away town that hosted the vote to establish Oregon's first provisional government in 1843, is also home to a visitor center and museum, trails for a leisurely bike or stroll, Willamette River access, and a disc golf course. A $5 parking fee or state parks pass is required. 

Oregon Cheese Festival

11 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.–4 p.m Sunday, Apr 2–3,  Jackson County Expo, 1 Peninger Road, Central Point
If cheese is your jam, you’ll want to get your dairy-ere to the Oregon Cheese Festival in Central Point, near Medford. The event, which takes place at the Jackson County Expo, will house 19 cheese vendors—including Portland Creamery and Tillamook—and more than 50 other food and drink vendors to sample and support. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Oregon Cheese Guild. Leave the kiddos behind (maybe with a lactose-intolerant baby-sitter), as this event if for adults 21 and up. Tickets start at $20/day.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2022 Opening Shows

Apr 12–Oct 30, various stages, Ashland
Following "18 months of crisis, closure, and now rebirth," according to artistic director Nataki Garrett, the 2022 Oregon Shakespeare Festival opens April 12 with the musical Once on This Island, first produced on Broadway in 1990, and the West Coast premiere of Mona Mansour's Unseen. Those are contemporary works, but Shakespeare titles on the way include The Tempest and King John. Look for lower ticket prices this year (that ... happens?), part of OSF's effort to increase accessibility.

Dark Skies Exhibit at the High Desert Museum

9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, exhibit runs Apr 16–July 10, 59800 US 97, Bend

Tetons at night.

If you’ve never visited the High Desert Museum, it might be high time to make the three-hour trek to Bend to check it out. This April, the museum will be unveiling Vanishing Night: Conserving Dark Skies in the High Desert, a new exhibition displaying gorgeous photos of the starry night sky, while simultaneously warning onlookers about the environmental toll of urban light pollution. Vanishing Night aims to educate about the high desert’s “disappearing darkness,” discuss the impact of light pollution on wildlife, and offer solutions as to how we can limit our artificial light usage. And, of course, it will make us ooohh and ahhh at pretty pictures of stars that very frustratingly can never be properly captured with our phones. General admission $20, April–October.

Harney County Migratory Bird Festival

Apr 21–24, various locations in Burns and around Harney County, Oregon
See the spectacular spring migration for yourself at the annual Harney County Migratory Bird Festival. Started in 1981, the event celebrates the larger-than-life migration of birds passing through Harney Basin on the Pacific Flyway. Over 300 species of birds pass through each spring. This year’s festival is bringing fluorescent back with a 1980s throwback theme, which includes a retro logo design. Join fellow birders and get a chance to meet with biologists and other bird experts while driving through up to 10 select birding locations in Harney County during the bird crawl—kind of like a pub crawl but with feathered friends instead. You can also register for one of the timed experiences, which includes guided birding tours, a movie in the park (Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, and Jack Black play competitive bird-watchers in 2011’s The Big Year, from the director of The Devil Wears Prada), and a working ranch tour. Can’t make it to Eastern Oregon? You can still take part in the festivities virtually with interactive presentations throughout the week. For an added bonus, purchase a Bird Crawl Passport, and if you get it stamped at a minimum of eight locations, you’ll earn yourself a commemorative pint glass and discounts at select local shops. Some scheduled activities run $15–100, but the bird crawl and movie screening are free.

Astoria Warrenton Crab, Seafood, and Wine Festival

4–9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Sunday, Apr 22–24, Clatsop County Fairgrounds, 92927 Walluski Loop, Astoria (see website for parking and shuttle info) 
Summer might be beach season, but seafood lovers know months with an r in their names are prime time for eating. So this 40-year-old shoulder-season coastal food fest, back in person after two years off in the pandemic, is timed just right. Arts and crafts and beer and wine vendors join food stalls offering seafood ramen, crab and shrimp melts, and more. Day tickets $10–20 advance, $15–25 at door.