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Best Outdoor Events of 2016

...and what to watch out for in 2017

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The year 2016 was a great time to be outside: extreme sport start-ups let Bendites bungee off a bridge or dive into the sky; rare wolves and foxes made brief cameos in the wild; Bachelor debuted a new ski lift; even Pokémon Go helped out, if only fleetingly. To help you start planning your outdoor adventures, here are some of our favorite outdoor events from this year to check out in 2017.

WinterFest

The Source staff might be slightly biased, but we think the new year doesn't truly start until WinterFest. This annual event takes over the Old Mill District for three days of seasonal fun. Artists showcase masterful works with fire, ice, metal and more, while food artisans cook up some of the tastiest dishes in town. Kids and kids-at-heart can watch acrobatic feats like the Metal Mulisha stunt riders or the K9 Kings, learn and explore in the kids area, and meet the enchanting Ice Queen and Fire King. Plus, there's always great music, special events and delicious beer to enjoy. No matter how cold it is outside, WinterFest is the place to be.

Oregon WinterFest

February 17-19

Old Mill District, Bend

OregonWinterFest.com

Freedom Ride

In this especially divisive year, we developed an extra appreciation for events that brought people together for a common cause—even if that cause happened to be a bit of a traffic nightmare. Love it or hate it, the Freedom Ride is a Bend tradition. Despite loose organization and attempts to quell it, this annual downtown bike ride grows bigger every year, and 2016 was no exception. Watching the streets fill up with creative red, white and blue outfits (or lack thereof, in some cases) is a sight to behold. While the event can be a bit of a headache for drivers, the spirit of it all is definitely worth celebrating, so hop on some wheels and wave your American flag when the Fourth of July weekend rolls around next year.

Freedom Ride

July 4

(Since the event is all about anarchy there's no website. Get info via word of mouth or check back here!)

Twilight Crit

Between the High Cascades 100 and the Tour des Chutes, the top cyclists in the world all eventually pedal their way to Bend for a race or two. If you only went to one race this year, though, we hope it was the Downtown Twilight Criterium. Also known as the Twilight Crit, this high-speed race loops through downtown as penultimate leg of the Cascade Cycling Classic. Their intensity makes for equally exciting spectating, as evidenced by the throngs of people that fill the sidewalks to catch a glimpse of these speed machines. If you didn't go this year, make sure to grab a seat early for the 2017 Crit race on July 22.

Cascade Cycling Classic

July 19-23, 2017

Cascade-Cycling.org

Pole Pedal Paddle

Watching the pros race head to head is exciting; watching your friends and family race head to head is exhilarating. There are plenty of amateur races in Bend, but few capture that exhilaration as well as the U.S. Bank Pole Pedal Paddle. For an amateur race, this event is tough: this six-leg relay traverses the slopes of Mt. Bachelor, skims the waters of the Deschutes River, and covers nearly 30 miles of paved and unpaved roads. Whether you're in it to win it, competing for fun, or running a small cheering section for your team, the PPP showcases Bend at its best. Plus, all proceeds from the event go to the Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation.

Pole Pedal Paddle

May 20, 2017

PPPBend.com

Solar Eclipse

While we always keep an ear to the ground here at The Source, we also couldn't help looking up to the sky this year. The heavens provided plenty of awesome distractions in 2016, including the annual Perseid Meteor Shower and three supermoons. The construction of a Hopservatory at Worthy Brewing in Bend provided a new opportunity to whet both our astronomical and beer palates.

But it gets better: next year's total solar eclipse will pass directly over Central Oregon. This will be THE astronomical event of the decade, and Bend is in a perfect position for stellar viewing. Be sure to stop by Pine Mountain Observatory or Sunriver Observatory (as well as Worthy) in mid-August to safely witness this spectacular eclipse, or camp out at Oregon Solar Fest to immerse yourself in the full experience near Madras.

Oregon Solar Fest

Full eclipse August 21, 2017

OregonSolarFest.com

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