Big-name events like Coachella and Outside Lands in California, South by Southwest in Texas, and Summerfest in Wisconsin are on everyone’s festival calendar, but the Pacific Northwest doesn’t always have its due despite an abundance of outstanding local talent and several multi-day festivals. Whether you’re planning a road trip or just trying to finalize your summer plans, these music festivals in the Pacific Northwest should definitely be included on your itinerary.
Top Music Festivals in the Pacific Northwest
There are so many amazing music festivals in the Pacific Northwest and so many great road trip destinations; it’s best to get planning early if you want to nab a spot at one of these events.
One of the earliest shows in the festival calendar, Boise’s Treefort features acts from a range of genres, including indie rock, hip hop, and electronica. Headliners this year include Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Dinosaur Jr., and Ani DeFranco — though there are literally dozens of lesser-known bands to catch on the smaller stages. It’s also more than just a music festival, with film screenings, art galleries, and comedy shows to enjoy between sets. A single-day pass will set you back $100, but there is the option of only attending the main stage shows, which is $50. A five-day festival pass is $290.
Boise gets another festival a few months later, this one lasting just one night and with only a handful of acts. Fortunately, it’s also one of the cheapest. For just $30, you can see rapper Ludacris, country/hip-hop superstar Jelly Roll, bluesy songstress Elle King, and dance-pop pioneers C+C Music Factory. The event has a carnival atmosphere with amusement park rides and midway games to accompany the musical performances.
Washington’s Columbia River Gorge is perhaps the most picturesque festival venue in the U.S., making it the ideal location for Beyond Wonderland’s electronic dance extravaganza. A two-day ticket will cost you $220, but it’s well worth it for the chance to see over 50 acts in this amazing setting. The night’s camping permit will set you back another $130 for the most basic site.
If you’re willing to shell out nearly $2000, you and a friend can sleep in an air-conditioned canvas tent with flush toilets and a real bed and sheets.
Bass Canyon is the region’s premier electronic music festival, featuring everything from dubstep to trap and everything in between. The pulsated tracks reverberate off the Columbia River’s steep canyon walls to create an immersive experience found nowhere else. This year's lineup hasn’t been announced yet, but the first tier of tickets has already sold out.
The cheapest general admission spots now go for $290, and camping fees are another $140 just for a tent space; campsites with electrical hookups for your RV start at $430.
Watershed - George, WA (August)
Washington and the Pacific Northwest are better known for their alternative scene, but the Watershed Festival at the Gorge ranks as one of America’s best country music festivals. With artists like Keith Urban, Luke Bryant, and Lainey Wilson taking the stage, you know you’re going to have a good time at this festival.
A three-day pass sells for $250, but the price does increase the longer you wait. A tent camping permit for the two-night festival is only $180, but a powered 30-amp RV space is $870 or $1320 for a 50-amp connection.
PDX Pop Now - Portland, OR (August)
Festivals can be murder on budget, which is why the completely free PDX Pop Now festival should be on every budget traveler’s itinerary. If you’re not from the Portland area, you may not recognize most of the bands on the schedule, but that only makes it more exciting to discover an unexpected gem. Despite the name, PDX Pop Now covers nearly every genre, from reggae to electronica to indie rock.
Bumbershoot - Seattle, WA (September)
Bumbershoot is Seattle’s premier art festival and a great place for closing out the year’s festival season. Not only does it attract an eclectic roster, including Fat Boy Slim, the Dandy Warhols, and the Revivalists, but the downtown festivities also include films, interactive art, food vendors, and beer gardens.
Being in the heart of a major city, there are loads of options for accommodations too. In 2019, the last year Bumbershoot was held, tickets were around $100 for a one-day ticket. Thankfully, organizers slashed ticket prices to ensure everyone could attend, with one-day passes costing only $50 and two-day passes going for $85.
Pacific Northwest Music Festivals With Cruise America
Camping fees at some of the bigger name festivals are incredibly expensive, especially when compared to the abundance of campsites found outside the festival grounds. One of the best ways to save money is with an RV rental from Cruise America, which gives you the option to boondock or stay in a nearby private or state-run campground for a fraction of the price.
Sleeping in a Cruise America is certainly more comfortable than a tent surrounded by thousands of your fellow festival attendees.