Portland is Oregon’s cultural capital, and the city’s symphony orchestra, ballet, and opera are all well regarded. A lively theater scene includes plenty of mainstream and fringe theater companies that offer classic and contemporary plays. In summer, festivals move the city’s cultural activities outdoors to Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Washington Park, and the Oregon Zoo.
To find out what’s going on during your visit, pick up a copy of Willamette Week, Portland’s free weekly arts and entertainment newspaper. The Oregonian, the city’s daily newspaper, also publishes entertainment-related information in its Friday A&E section and in the Sunday edition of the paper.
It’s All Happening at the Zoo
When summer hits, Portlanders like to head outdoors to hear music. The city’s top outdoor music series is held at the Oregon Zoo, 4001 SW Canyon Rd. (www.oregonzoo.org; tel. 503/226-1561; which brings in the likes of Joan Baez, Indigo Girls, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. You can picnic on the lawn—and, believe it or not, there aren’t any mosquitoes! It’s best to arrive early to claim a good spot. The sound system is state-of-the-art. And the crowd is pure Portland—parents with kids, boomers, hipsters and GenXers, all rolled into one happy summer scene.
For the most part, the Portland performing arts scene revolves around the Portland Center for the Performing Arts (PCPA), 1111 SW Broadway (www.portland5.com; tel. 503/248-4335), which comprises five performance spaces in three buildings. The Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall , 1037 SW Broadway, known locally as the Schnitz, is a restored 1920s movie palace that still displays the original Portland theater sign and marquee out front and is home to the Oregon Symphony. This hall also hosts popular music performances, lectures, and many other special events. Directly across Main Street from the Schnitz, at 1111 SW Broadway, is the Antoinette Hatfield Hall. This building, constructed in the 1980s, houses the Newmark and Dolores Winningstad theaters and Brunish Hall. The two theaters host productions by local and visiting companies and performers.
A few blocks away from this concentration of venues is the 3,000-seat Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St., home of Portland Opera, the Oregon Ballet Theatre, and a venue for traveling Broadway shows.
One other downtown performing arts venue worth checking out is the Old Church , 1422 SW 11th Ave. (www.oldchurch.org; tel. 503/222-2031). Built in 1883, this wooden Carpenter Gothic church is a Portland landmark and serves as a concert venue; every Wednesday at noon it hosts free lunchtime concerts.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.