Five Oregon Festivals You Probably Didn’t Know Existed

While festival season has already begun for the music industry across the world, spending $500 on one weekend pass to stand 200 rows away from your favorite band just doesn’t cut it sometimes. Luckily, Oregon has plenty of alternatives to stuffy music festivals, and they’re along the lines of tacos, lavender, pirates, rainbows, and hot air balloons. We cherry-picked the weekend celebrations you probably haven’t heard about, but really should experience, each for a great price. Happy celebrating, folks.

Festival of the Balloons
June 23-25

Tigard is hosting the 30th anniversary of its Festival of Balloons this year, but nope, no riding allowed in these hot air balloons. Three days can easily be filled with eating contests, live local music, a soccer tournament, and carnival rides. The main events take place each morning between 5:45 and 6:15 a.m., when each hot air balloon launches into the sky before breakfast. Each evening is topped off by the dusk night glow where you can walk amongst the illuminated balloons. All of this for the stunning price of $7 for an entire weekend. For info, visit

Rainbow Family of Living Light Gathering
July 1-7

Known historically as one of the most welcoming festivals in the states, the Rainbow Family of Living Light Gathering has been living the rainbow way since 1972. Held in annual East Coast-West Coast rotation, the “tribe” welcomes anyone who has a belly button. A genuine celebration of life, the Earth, unity, space, and time, the Rainbow Gathering practices tribe anarchy, meaning attendees are responsible for themselves, but also each other, because all are one. Attendees can really get to work, with their choice of a spattering of free workshops, by joining in on some prop play and fire dancing, or by volunteering at the various kitchens, which provide free sustenance throughout the day. Gathering locations are not decided upon until just weeks within the event date, usually the first week of July. The gathering is entirely free. Alcohol is discouraged, and designated to a specified camp. For info, visit

Oregon Lavender Farm Tour
July 8-9

The Oregon Lavender Association (yeah, who knew?) will feature its statewide lavender farm tour event with 22 participating lavender farms across the state to celebrate the summer bloom. This annual event opens the gates to many farms that don’t normally do so throughout the year. Each farm hosts its own series of events ranging from full-blown festivals, to food and music, to simple tours. Farm entry is completely free and open to the public; see specific farm websites for details. For info, visit

SeaDog Nights and Gypsy Carnival
July 20-24

If you’ve always wondered whether the pirate’s life actually was for you, SeaDog Nights is your opportunity to find out. Hosted in Lebanon, this five-day festival is rooted in immersion, meaning attendees dress, live, eat, and work like pirates (land pirates, that is). It’s complete with a written code of ethics, etiquette, and language that attendees should study prior to participating. Don’t own any pirate garb? They’re ready with an outfit loaning system. SeaDog Nights even uses its own currency for the week, called Dogpounds. This is just to get you started—but $25 will buy you a ticket for the entire week. For info, visit

Portland Taco Festival
Aug. 26-27

What’s a summer without tacos and margaritas? Portland is hosting what they claim is the largest celebration of the taco, featuring the city’s finest at Portland Meadows. Each vendor will have at least one $2 taco among their menu items, but the festival doesn’t stop there. Tequila will be a prominent feature throughout the weekend, celebrated alongside Chihuahua racing and Lucha Libre wrestling. Tickets are $12 each day. For info, visit

By Regina Pieracci