Tom McCall Waterfront Park by Hawthorne Bridge Early July
Portland’s Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival, presented by First Tech Credit Union, is a massive musical extravaganza spanning five days and culminating in a July 4 fireworks display over the Willamette River. Since its quiet kickoff in 1988, this incredibly popular festival owned and operated by the Oregon Food Bank has raised more than $10 million and collected more than 1,000 tons of food—all to help alleviate hunger and its root causes in Oregon and Clark County, Washington.
Waterfront Blues Festival O Safeway – Best USA Festivals Portland Photo Gallery
This award-winning festival annually hosts more than 100 music acts, ranging from the biggest names in Blues to up-and-coming local singers and bands. This is largely a shoulder-to-shoulder event, particularly when well-known musicians take the stage. Each year’s lineup is announced months in advance on the event website. The festival offers a variety of multiday passes, each with a different set of benefits. Five-day passes start at about $40 (with early bird pricing), making the Waterfront Blues Festival the best entertainment value for the July 4 weekend.
The festival offers myriad food and beverage vendors. Festival attendees should consider bringing a fold-up chair, and should check out the “What to Bring” section of the event website before venturing to Waterfront Park. Parking is always a challenge for an event of this magnitude, with curbside parking nearby nearly impossible; however, about a dozen pay-to-park lots (SmartPark and City Center Parking) are located within a reasonable distance. Naturally, many festival veterans have learned to get downtown early in the day and relax over a cup of coffee and perhaps breakfast somewhere in the area after finding parking as close as possible to Tom McCall Waterfront Park, the site of the event. Attendees also park across the river, on the east bank, and walk across the Hawthorne Bridge.
Public transportation—MAX light rail and TriMet—is another excellent option, and TriMet runs extra buses to accommodate the event.
Waterfront Blues Festival annually features more than 100 music acts playing to huge crowds at Waterfront Park.
Bicycle riders can safely leave their bikes at either of two designated and volunteer-staffed parking locations.
Whether you’re a hardcore Blues fans or a casual listener, the Waterfront Blues Festival is an event not to miss. Many attendees plan entire vacations around this colossal celebration, and each year people come from every state in the union and dozens of foreign locales, traveling from afar just for this extraordinary party. For visitors planning to spend most of the week in the Portland area for this event, consult Travel Portland, (877) 678-5263, www. travelportland.com, for information about lodging and the countless sights and activities you can enjoy in and near Oregon’s largest city.
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