Cheap & Easy

The Best Bang for Your Buck Events in Portland This Labor Day Weekend: Sept 2-5, 2022

Waterfront Concert and Festival, Lents Cultural Fair, and More Cheap & Easy Events Under $15
September 2, 2022
Enjoy the last days of outdoor concert season with the Oregon Symphony's Waterfront Concert and Festival. (Oregon Symphony)
It's the unofficial end of summer and we've got a wealth fun activities to pack your long weekend with, from Waterfront Concert and Festival to the Lents Cultural Fair and from the opening days of The MAiZE at the Pumpkin Patch and Chapman Swift Watch. Whether you need more ideas or want to plan out the month ahead, check out our our guide to September events in Portland.

Oregon’s statewide mask mandate has been lifted, venues may have their own health guidelines in place. We advise directly checking the specific protocols for an event before heading out.

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Kickstand Comedy in the Park Add to a List
Kickstand Comedy has reprised its hugely popular Comedy in the Park series in Laurelhurst Park, so grab your pals with a sense of humor and spread out your blankets early—the event has been known to draw crowds of 2,000 or more.
(Laurelhurst Park, Laurelhurst, free)


Les Gold with Tango Alpha Tango and Nosila Add to a List
Les Gold is a Portland-based indie rock outfit known for their catchy melodies and sometimes dark lyrics, which they describe as “gloom disco” or “bummer fun.” They will flaunt tracks from their latest EP, The Gloom Room, after opening sets from blues-rock duo Tango Alpha Tango and dream pop singer-songwriter Nosila.
(Doug Fir Lounge, Buckman, $14)

Whisper Hiss, Nonbinary Girlfriend, and Love in Hell Add to a List
Portland's Whisper Hiss brings their shape-shifting post-punk and darkwave the stage for a hometown show alongside dream pop outfit Nonbinary Girlfriend and like-minded newcomers Love in Hell. The evening promises "luxuriant and melodic experimental music for serious and casual Enya fans," so prepare to be blissed out.
(The Fixin' To, St. Johns, $10)



Ukrainian Day PDX Add to a List
Celebrate the embattled country and its rich culture with live music and dancing, traditional Ukrainian food, and other activities. The profits raised from the event will go towards medical and military safety equipment for Ukraine.
(Westmoreland Park, Southeast Portland, free)


National Cinema Day Add to a List
In celebration of the first-ever National Cinema Day in the United States, moviegoers can catch flicks for only $3 at participating theaters.
(Various locations, $3)


Cully Central Street Food Fest 2022 Add to a List
Scoop up some Asian street foods, sip local beers and specialty cocktails, participate in activities, and enjoy live music performances at this outdoor community event.
(Cully Central, Cully, free)

Erica's Soul Food Pop-Up Add to a List
If you've missed the beloved Southern cart Erica's Soul Food, which is currently on hiatus as it searches for a new location, here's a chance to catch some of its comforting fare. Erica herself will sling a menu of entirely never-before-seen dishes, while the plant-based pastry pop-up Emma & Lottie’s will serve up treats.
(Hemp Bar, Foster-Powell)


The Veldt with The Prids and Ten Million Lights Add to a List
Pioneering shoegaze band The Veldt, led by twin brothers Daniel and Danny Chavis, uniquely infuse their fuzzed-out dream pop with inspiration from soul and R&B, which has led them to tour alongside goth household names like Cocteau Twins, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and Echo & the Bunnymen. If you're unfamiliar with their music, we recommend you check out their 1994 debut, Afrodisiac, which Pitchfork hailed as one of the top 50 shoegaze albums ever released. Post-punk quartet The Prids and psych-rock outfit Ten Million Lights will lend local support. 
(Dante's, Old Town-Chinatown, $15)

Waterfront Concert and Festival Add to a List
To see summer off with a bang, the Oregon Symphony is bringing back its popular Waterfront Concert and Festival with a lively program of works from popular films, masterworks by the world's finest composers, and classical favorites, culminating in Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. Other featured performers include drum ensemble Portland Taiko, powerhouse vocalist Alonzo Chadwick and his band Zoulful Muzic, blues and gospel queen LaRhonda Steele, renowned flutist Jan Michael Looking Wolf, and psychedelic cumbia group Orquestra Pacifico Tropical.
(Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Downtown, free)


Dropped Notes: An Outrageous Musical Revue Add to a List
The cast of Dropped Notes knows no more about what the evening will bring than the audience does—the musical revue promises to be a hilarious mash-up of song, dance, and storytelling entirely determined by audience suggestions. Each night they'll tackle new themes, so submit yours for a chance to see it translated on stage.
(Curious Comedy Theater, King, $15-$20)


Portland Storyteller's Guild: Myth, Mirth, and Truth – Shaping the Improbable Add to a List
This season-opening performance by the Portland Storytellers' Guild spotlights veteran storytellers Brian Rohr, Kriya Kaping, and Eric Foxman, each sharing tales of the mysterious, unexpected, and unknown. Rohr often weaves folklore and myth into his stories, while Foxman shares a mix of personal stories and traditional legends; Kaping's tales are informed by her work as a storytelling facilitator.
(Artichoke Music, Richmond, $15)



11th Annual Arab "Mahrajan" Festival 2022 Add to a List
Organized by the Arab American Cultural Center of Oregon (AACCO), this celebration of Arab culture will return after a two-year pandemic hiatus. The festival spotlights Arab communities in Oregon through traditional cuisine, henna, dance performances, poetry, and a vendor bazaar.
(Oaks Amusement Park, Sellwood, free)

Lents Cultural Fair Add to a List
The Lents International Farmers Market is a hidden gem, and its commitment to diversity makes it the perfect locale for this weekend's cultural fair. Drop by Lents Town Center for Latin funk tunes and performances by Break Thyself Breakdancers, Rose City Escrima Martial Arts, and others. You'll also find a scavenger hunt and a selfie station, plus delicious fruit, tamales, and fresh-cut flowers from the market’s multicultural vendors.
(Lents Town Center, Lents, free)


Church of Film: Son of The White Mare Add to a List
Pop an edible and head to this free screening of Son of the White Mare, a dreamlike, mythical quest to the underworld. The film is a psychedelic swirl of Hungarian folklore and Freudian freakishness (the hero breastfeeds for 14 years) with a kaleidoscopic, anxiety-tinged plot, which "unfolds like artwork etched into a cave wall...brought to restless life by an unclassifiable spell that only cinema can muster," according to Indiewire. Whoa.
(The Red Fox, Humboldt, free)


BLK ODYSSY: The BLK Revolution Tour Add to a List
Houston-based artist Blk Odyssy fuses together contemporary hip-hop, R&B, '70s rock, and jazz for some of the smoothest sounding songs in existence. He will support his latest album, BLK VINTAGE, which Alternative Press described as "a tale of how music can be more than a fleeting moment of fun and challenge us to question the world we live in."
(Holocene, Buckman, $15)


Heartbeat Silent Disco Sundance Sundays Add to a List
Tune into rotating live DJ channels on provided (and sanitized) noise-canceling headphones while dancing silently under the sunset. Bringyour own blankets, snacks, props, or whatever helps you get into the groove.
(Laurelhurst Park, Laurelhurst, $10)

Sunday Sessions Add to a List
This bi-weekly block party-style summer shindig will bring the North Portland community together to congregate around yummy food, local vendors, and dazzling live performances. 
(Alberta Abbey, King, free)



Bottle Rocket Add to a List
Wes Anderson's '96 debut stars Luke and Owen Wilson as buds on a poorly planned crime spree. (James Caan makes an appearance, too—RIP!) Bottle Rocket was reportedly one of Scorsese's favorites of the decade; in a 2000 Esquire interview, he praised the film as "convey[ing] the simple joys and interactions between people so well and with such richness." That's a solid endorsement.
(Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District, $8 - $10)


Kamikaze Palm Tree Add to a List
Kamikaze Palm Tree, the experimental rock project of lifelong friends Dylan Hadley and Cole Berliner, merges together noise and post-punk elements with theatrical art-pop for a sound that is both abrasive and accessible. They will support their new Drag City-released album, Mint Chip, alongside like-minded punks Self Improvement and Fib. 
(Mississippi Studios, Boise, $12)


Now Here We Are Thirty Years Later: A Memoir in Mountain Goats Songs Add to a List
Author Richard O'Brien (not to be confused with the Rocky Horror Picture Show writer/actor) will celebrate the release of his experimental memoir Now Here We Are Thirty Years Later: A Memoir in Mountain Goats Songsinspired by John Darnielle's indie-folk project. Check out the new book, photos of the beloved band, deep cuts from their live archive, and a Mountain Goats-themed open mic.
(Turn! Turn! Turn!, Humboldt, Donations welcome)



Chapman Swift Watch Add to a List
Every September, thousands of Portlanders flock to Chapman Elementary School to witness the phenomenon of Vaux's swifts funneling into the school's chimney to roost. Arrive early to snag a prime birding spot, settle in, and enjoy the early fall evening while you wait for the sun to descend. Close to sunset, the birds begin their sky show before tucking in for the night. Plus, Portland Audubon will be on hand most nights of the week with info about the swifts.
(Chapman Elementary School, Northwest Portland, free, Friday-Monday)


The MAiZE at the Pumpkin Patch Add to a List
Have a corntastic day navigating immaculately cut pathways through corn stalks at Portland's eight-acre corn maze. This year's theme is "Cinnamon and Sugar"—warm up with the "easy" section of the maze before tackling the more challenging section, and don't forget your boots!
(The Pumpkin Patch, Sauvie Island, $8, Saturday-Monday)


The Blob Add to a List
Ooze on over to Hollywood this weekend for a cult classic of globular glory. The Blob stars Steve McQueen as a cool youth who's tasked with warning his small town about an invasion of gooey terrors—and the film, which transcends the schlock of its genre to ingenious effect, helped launch his career.
(Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District, $7, Saturday-Sunday)

Three Thousand Years of Longing Add to a List
George Miller takes a break from desert dystopia in Three Thousand Years of Longing, which stars Tilda Swinton as—what else—a stylish academic, and Idris Elba as a djinn who grants her three wishes in exchange for his freedom from a cramped bottle. As you might have guessed, things get fantastical and utterly complicated. If the premise sounds a little chintzy, just remember, this is the guy who somehow directed both Mad Max and Happy Feet—maximalism is his middle name, so at the very least, this'll be a visual magic carpet ride.
(Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District, $8-$10, Friday-Monday)


Adam Sorensen: Water Color Add to a List
Adam Sorensen's paintings may seem dreamy and fantastical, but they're rooted in real climate anxieties. Sorensen's works, inspired by everything from 19th-century romanticism to ukiyo-e Japanese woodcuts, seem to illustrate the continued idealization of our rapidly-changing world. His sublime, rainbow-tinged interpretations of landscapes suggest that we're still in denial about the dire state of the planet, but Sorensen's ambiguous approach prompts more questions than answers.
(PDX CONTEMPORARY ART, Slabtown, free, Friday-Monday)

Benny Fountain Add to a List
Benny Fountain's dreamy oil paintings in Landscapes: Palouse and Provence feel blissful and meditative—almost like you're spending an afternoon among the rolling dunes of the Palouse region, or vacationing in the south of France. Fountain's muted, subtle color palette and emphasis on light and form are just enough to transport the viewer, but still leave a little room for mystery.
(Froelick Gallery, Pearl District, free, Friday-Saturday)

Cairnatopia: Nan Curtis Add to a List
Interdisciplinary artist Nan Curtis constructs found object and handmade assemblages inspired by cairn formations in this solo exhibition. Referencing material memory and subtle humor, Cairnatopia feels both playful and grounded.
(SATOR Projects, Central Eastside, free, Friday-Sunday)

Collective Rage Add to a List
If you're furious about the recent SCOTUS decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, try channeling that righteous rage into something positive—this group benefit print show prices each piece at $125, and all proceeds will be donated to the National Network of Abortion Funds. Prints can be purchased online and viewed in person at Strange Paradise Gallery, housed within Oregon Contemporary.
(Oregon Contemporary, Kenton, free, Saturday-Sunday)

Dinolandia Add to a List
Whimsical illustrator Mike Bennett presents his latest installation, a two-story immersive museum filled with illustrated life-size dinosaurs. Who needs a trip to Jurassic Park when we've got Dinolandia in the heart of Portland?
(710 SW Yamhill St., Downtown, $5, Friday-Sunday)

Smart Objects and Flattened Images Add to a List
Curated by Well Well Projects member Kelda Van Patten, this lens-based exhibition brings together a whopping 51 artists from across the United States, each interpreting their own experiences of the artificial and the real in our increasingly digital lives. Local and more far-flung faves like Brian Doody, Colin Kippen, Melanie Flood, and Todd Molinari will share their work among dozens of other artistic talents.
(Well Well, Kenton, free, Saturday-Sunday; opening)

To the River Add to a List
Created over the summer by a gathering of multimedia artists, this six-week sculptural site incorporates a "matrix of waveforms" that lead visitors on an immersive journey from the base of the Portland Aerial Tram to the Willamette River. The salvaged wood sculptures are accompanied by wind-activated soundscapes, considering rivers as connective networks that unite us across geography and time.
(Zidell Yards, South Waterfront, free, Saturday-Sunday)

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