Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, it’s sort of a time-honored tradition to head to the great outdoors for some weekend R & R. For some, that means 18 holes at the golf course, others prefer firing up the barbeque in a quest to grill the perfect burger. After you’ve shot your last par and downed the last bite, head out to catch a great band at one of Cincinnati’s outdoor music festivals and events.

MusicNOW (May 13-15 http://www.musicnowfestival.org) Fair enough, MusicNOW is not an outdoor event at all, but it’d be a crime to not mention this festival founded in 2006 by Cincinnati native Bryce Dessner of The National. MusicNOW attracts artists who pair risk with genre-defying performances, creating music that’s unique, innovative, and unlike anything you’ve ever heard. Sample last year’s fare – Robin Peckhold from Fleet Foxes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QonFFPzehrQ (video by eachnotesecure)

Fountain Square Indie Summer (Fridays, June 3 – September 2 http://www.myfountainsquare.com/musicseries) A musical sampler of what’s to come at MidPoint Music Festival, Fountain Square plays host to the Indie Summer series every Friday for most of the summer. The musical equivalent of “try before you buy,” Indie Summer has featured SXSW breakout bands, local favorites and more.

Northside Rock’n Roll Carnival (July 2-3 http://www.northsiderocks.com) Nothing says “Happy Birthday, USA!” like a rock ‘n’ roll carnival. Since 2006, Northside has held their annual Fourth of July event in Hoffner Park. The highlight is a nightly concert series that has included noteworthy locals like The Sundresses; You, You’re Awesome; State Song and more.

Macy’s Music Fest (July 29-30 http://www.macysmusicfestival.com) For two nights, Paul Brown Stadium transforms into a stage for some of the biggest names in R&B, jazz, hip-hop and soul. Originally launched in 1962 as a jazz festival, the Macy’s Music Festival lineup for 2011 includes  Chaka Khan, Frankie Beverly & Maze, Charlie Wilson and El DeBarge to name just a few.

Cincy Blues Fest (August 5-6 http://cincyblues.org/2011_blues_fest) The Ohio River is the perfect backdrop for the 18th annual Cincy Blues Fest, held at Bicentennial Commons at Sawyer Point. With 40 acts on four stages, there’s plenty of blues to go around. Last year’s performers included Miss Lissa and Company, Robin Lacy and DeZydeco and Joe Louis Walker. This year’s lineup should be announced soon, so check the event website for details.

MidPoint Music Festival (MPMF) (September 22-24 http://mpmf.com) Celebrating its 10th anniversary, MPMF has become a true counterpoint to Austin’s SXSW. Spanning venues all across the city (indoors and out), bands converge on Cincinnati in a frenzy of musical mayhem. Last year brought the likes of Best Coast, Phantogram, Surfer Blood and Caribou on the national front; expect plenty of international and local bands, too. MPMF is the final hurrah for the summer season, and offers music fans a chance to check out three nights of great music.

Know of any outdoor music fests that I missed? Or is your favorite just a short drive from Cincinnati? Share them with Cincinnati Profile readers in the comments section. And while you’re here, check out some tunes from a selection of local artists: http://cincinnatiprofile.theallnightparty.com.