Portland’s best annual festivals

Celebrate all year long at these can’t-miss events in Portland.

PDX_AdultSoapboxDerby_JDP_2015-893Whimsical handmade carts speed down Mt. Tabor at the PDX Adult Soap Box Derby.
Jason DeSomer

With a never-ending roster of events in Portland, you’re sure to find plenty worth celebrating every month of the year. Here are dozens of our favorites.


  • Fertile Ground Festival: This celebration of creativity spans 11 days of performances featuring brand new theater, dance, visual art and comedy works by local artists.
  • Reel Music Festival: Celebrate the connection between image and sound at Whitsell Auditorium with this music-fest-meets-film-fest hybrid, which features archival concert footage and biopics of famous artists.
  • Old-Time Music Gathering: Tap your toes to tunes by the Northwest’s best old-time Appalachian-style string bands at this concert series, going strong since 2000 at the Tiffany Center.
  • Chamber Music Northwest Winter Festival: Ditch the post-holiday doldrums at this cozy midwinter fest, which features four nights of timeless classical music.


  • Chinese New Year at Lan Su Chinese Garden: Immerse yourself in the color and excitement of the Chinese New Year during this two-week celebration, which includes a lion dance and four glowing nights of lantern viewing at the stunning Lan Su Garden.
  • Portland Winter Light Festival: Designed to bring light to the wintry darkness, this free four-day festival brightens several sites around town with imaginative works that combine light and technology to create interactive experiences.
  • Portland International Film Festival: Founded in 1977, this storied fest spans three weeks and captivates cinephiles with feature films and shorts from around the world.
  • Portland Jazz Fest: This festival honors jazz legends, highlights local musicians and provides jazz education through films and lectures at top Portland venues.



  • Design Week Portland: Touting design as the City of Roses’ most promising cultural resource, this weeklong event is jam-packed with installations, panels and after-parties.
  • Soul’d Out Music Fest: This music festival invites attendees to define “soul music” for themselves with an impressive roster of performances and impromptu jam sessions at venues across Portland.
  • Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest: Ring in spring by frolicking in 40 acres (16 hectares) of rainbow-hued tulips at the picturesque Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, only 30 miles (50 km) south of Portland.


  • UFO Festival: Alien-themed parades, pet costume contests and spaceship landing parties unfold at this long-running UFO fest, a destination for alien abduction survivors and those who want to believe. The otherworldly event is held in McMinnville, 38 miles (61 km) southwest of Portland.
  • Portland Cinco de Mayo Fiesta: The largest multicultural festival in Oregon, Portland’s annual Cinco de Mayo Fiesta held at Waterfront Park features a wide breadth of live music, dancers from sister city Guadalajara, rides, amateur boxing and an artisan village.
  • Portland Rose Festival: With more than 100 years under its belt, this civic celebration has it all, including fireworks, dragon boats and the second largest all-floral parade in the United States.
  • Northwest Animation Festival: Animation geeks and newbies alike are treated to nearly 200 spectacular short films during one week at the historic Hollywood Theatre.


  • PDX Beer Week: The region’s top brewers join forces with some of Portland’s best- known snack spots for limited-edition pints and plates, plus 11 days of beer-filled events.
  • Portland Scandinavian Midsummer Festival: Get in the summer solstice spirit, Scandinavian-style, with bonfires, traditional Nordic tunes and, of course, a maypole all at Southeast Portland’s Oaks Amusement Park.


  • Waterfront Blues Festival: Crowds of more than 100,000 gather in downtown Waterfront Park to celebrate Fourth of July weekend by grooving to a star-studded lineup of blues artists in downtown.
  • Cathedral Park Jazz Festival: The longest-running free jazz festival west of the Mississippi honors blues, soul and R&B with three days of musical exuberance beneath the St. Johns Bridge at the scenic Cathedral Park.
  • Chamber Music Northwest Summer Festival: Grab a blanket and a bottle of wine and head to the lawn of Reed College to pregame top-caliber chamber music, with concerts spanning five weeks.
  • Oregon Brewers Festival: Tapping some of the world’s best brews since 1988, this annual rite of summer in downtown Portland’s Waterfront Park draws more than 85,000 discerning drinkers with pours from more than 90 craft breweries over five days.


  • Pickathon: What started out as a small music festival has grown into one of Stumptown’s most anticipated weekends of the year, luring acts like Phil Lesh, Beach House and Mac DeMarco to nearby Pendarvis Farm.
  • Festa Italiana: Festa Italiana brings the best of Italy to Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square, including a bocce tournament, a loaded musical lineup and Mass held in Italian at the Grotto.
  • India Festival: Celebrate India’s Independence Day in Pioneer Courthouse Square, which encapsulates the tastes, sights and sounds of India through dance, musical performances and bites from Portland’s best Indian eateries.
  • Dahlia Festival: The elusive dahlia takes center stage at the free Swan Island Dahlia festival, which allows visitors to stroll through 30 acres (12 hectares) of dahlias at the peak of their bloom and peruse more than 400 floral arrangements.
  • PDX Adult Soap Box Derby: Creativity and horsepower are put to the test as 40 or so competing handmade carts — many boasting whimsical designs — boldly whizz downhill at Mt. Tabor Park.


  • Swift Watch: Looking for a magical way to spend a September evening? Watch in awe as hundreds of Vaux Swifts circle the chimney of Chapman Elementary School before descending for the night to roost.
  • Feast Portland: Founded in 2012, this renowned food fest rapidly cemented Portland’s unique and important place on the national food scene. Gorge on plates handcrafted by big-name chefs at events like the Brunch Village and Night Market.
  • Northwest Animation Festival Best of Fest: If you missed May’s NW Animation Fest, the Hollywood Theatre has you covered with one awe-inspiring night featuring the top dozen fan favorites drawn from 1,300 submissions.
  • Rose City Comic Con: Comic culture reigns supreme at the Oregon Convention Center during this celebration, brimming with costume contests, expert panels and celebrity guests.
  • Mt. Angel Oktoberfest: For over half a century, Mt. Angel, a small town about 36 miles (59 km) south of Portland, has celebrated the harvest season with street dancing, alpine folk music, an adult-only biergarten and other Bavarian activities.
  • Portland Fashion Week: Independent designers exhibit their latest eco-couture styles on the Pure Space catwalk at the world’s only comprehensively sustainable fashion week.


  • The Wedge: Cheese gets its due at this farmers’ market-style event, where local cheeses are peddled alongside choice pairings. Guests can even try their hand at cheese wheel bowling!
  • Portland Greek Festival: Folk dancing, cooking demonstrations, gourmet imports and more are all celebrated at the annual Portland Greek Festival hosted at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral. Don’t leave without loading up on specialty pastries like baklava and kadaifi.
  • Portland VegFest: Come for hundreds of delicious (and healthy!) food samples at the Oregon Convention Center; stay for the plant-based speakers, films and cooking demos.
  • Portland Film Festival: Named one of the coolest film festivals in the world by MovieMaker, this weeklong fest is packed with workshops, guest speakers, premieres and networking events.



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