Art, Music & Culture

Bend’s art and music scene has quickly followed its vibrant beer culture as another potent part of the city’s culture. Music has especially become an important part of the Bend economy in the past 10 to 15 years, but there’s something for everyone here – so let’s talk about it!

Music and Performance Destinations Around Bend

Bend has a lively music scene that celebrates small and upcoming bands of all genres. Nearly every pub, bar and food court has a music night at least once a week, and many have special performances by larger bands on the weekends – so there’s always new music to find! Everything comes together during First Friday Art Walk of each month, where galleries and shops open their doors, bands play in the street and carts offer food and libation (including many free samples) to everyone walking by.

For larger bands and bigger crowds, you may want to stop by the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Old Mill for the next concert, or take a look at tickets for Tower Theatre performances. We’ll also mention Volcanic Theatre Pub and Cascades Theater as venues worth visiting for concerts and events.

© Dave Liedman

Bend’s Many Art and Music Festivals

Thanks to Bend’s mild climate and many days of sunshine (and often despite the colder weather in winter), the city is a hotbed for festivals of all kinds, celebrating the seasons, beer, art and much more. These festivals are an excellent way to experience Northwest culture and check out the latest food trends to hit Bend.

Sections of downtown are usually shut off entirely to make room for long lines of vendors selling art or food, while band stages are set up at intervals to entertain with music — ensuring there really is something for everyone. Downtown Bend turns into one big street party with iconic festivals such as Oktoberfest and Winterfest, which feature art and hand-crafted products, food and drink, live music and lots of activities for the whole family.

© Dave Liedman

Additional Art and Music Events Unique to Bend

Apart from general festivals, there are many events focused primarily on specific art and music, which may be especially appealing to fans. Art in the High Desert  features fine artwork from around the country, the 4 Peaks Music Festival is a great way to start off summer music plans, and the Munch & Music series combines innovative bands with a mini-festival of local vendors.

Though there are way too many events in Bend to mention, Bend Fall Festival, Bend Christmas Parade, Pole Pedal Paddle, July 4th Pet Parade & Old-Fashioned Festival, Bite of Bend, Balloons Over Bend and Night Glow & Children’s Festival are some yearly traditions, that have become local favorites. Here is a great resource for all of Bend’s local events.

For performance and movie buffs, there is the BendFilm Festival, Cascade Adventure Film Festival, Bend A Cappella Festival and much more. More eclectic events are put on by groups like High Desert Chamber Music, Cascade Chorale and OperaBend.

© Nate Wyeth

Taking Part

Whether you want to start a band of your own, open up a stall at one of the festivals or just get involved on a local level, Bend is full of opportunities for you. With regard to the fine arts, we’d particularly recommend getting in touch with the Central Oregon Arts & Culture Alliance to try volunteering at one of the events that interests you the most.