Whether you’re checking out the live music scene, dancing the night away on a neon-lit club floor, or performing karaoke at a cozy neighborhood pub, Portland’s nightlife combines the energy and accessibility of the big city with the congeniality of a small-town community.
Portland's Old Port & "Uptown"
Visitors can choose between the cobblestone streets of the Old Port, dancing through the night at clubs that line these Europeanesque byways, or take a stroll to what is affectionately referred to as "Uptown” by the locals. While the Old Port offers waterfront bars, such as Ri Ra's Irish Restaurant & Pub
where visitors can drink a beer while observing lobstermen surveying their catches, "Uptown" Portland offers a myriad of venues in which to catch a local band or attend a themed party. This is undeniably a more artsy part of town, whereas the Old Port is plain entertainment and energy. "Uptown" Portland mingles dance clubs and concerts with artist talks, community events, film screenings, and theater events; the Old Port invites visitors to drink, dance and celebrate the summer, weekend, or vacation.
Microbreweries & Pubs
Exchange Street, the Old Port’s main thoroughfare, offers beer gardens, classy wine bars, and microbreweries with an old-world feel, such as Gritty McDuff’s Brewing Co
. Visitors can choose from a variety of fine ales, all brewed on site, while they people watch from a cozy front booth that provides a perfect view of the nighttime crowds.
Bull Feeney’s, with its turn-of-the-century Irish pub décor, hosts an open mic session every Tuesday night and live music every Thursday through Saturday. For live music any night of the week, and fresh off-the-boat "pub style” seafood, visit Andy’s Old Port Pub. Dockside, Portland Lobster Company also offers nightly live music; grab a cold one at their outdoor, tented bar and enjoy some of the best views in town while the night fills with foot-tapping sounds.
Enjoy a cocktail by the sea
Walk outside after an evening of belting out your new favorite tune, and you’ll encounter the smell of the ocean not far away. This city’s nightlife all happens within walking distance of the ocean; the seagulls are often up just as late as you are, circling overhead or lining the piers as the last ferries leave for the islands.
Artsy bars, music & galleries
A short stroll from the Eastland takes visitors to the Uptown scene – artsy bars with a more urban feel, a variety of music and art venues and gallery openings. At the Dogfish Bar & Grille
, the live music is mostly acoustic, blues and jazz and the atmosphere is casual and laid-back. Try Local 188’s
lounge for dinner and drinks; art lines the walls and old records and record-players invite visitors to wax nostalgic. Local 188, or "local” as it is affectionately referred to by the, well, locals, epitomizes the rare character of this city’s nightlife: there is small-town community here but the décor, the food, the liveliness, hint at big-city life and a worldliness that is unmistakably urban yet authentically Portland’s.
Enjoy our local musicians & comedians
Local talent is ripe in Portland; Mainer’s that have hit the national scene include musicians like Jason Spooner, a multi-award winning New England-based songwriter, and Pete Kilpatrick who was voted Maine’s best local act in 2006, 2007 and 2009 (Portland Phoenix). One of the hottest and most sought-after comedians in the country, Bob Marley, is celebrating 15 years in stand-up; if your timing is right you might catch Bob at The Comedy Connection
on Portland’s Custom House Wharf. In the peak summer months, don’t miss the Thursday evening Alive at Five free concert series in Monument Square where you can enjoy popular bands as the summer sun wanes and sip a cold drink in the beer garden, presented by Sebago Brewing Company.
by Heather Clarke