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.
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    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 54 of our favorites.

    January

    ChocolateFest: Gorge on samples of inventive cacao products, including indulgences like chocolate pasta, with more than 10,000 other cocoa fans at the Oregon Convention Center.

    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.

    Collabofest: This annual celebration at Base Camp Brewing invites Portland’s top brewers to pair up to create a series of never-before-sampled brews — which are then offered on tap at participating breweries through the month of February.

    Chamber Music Northwest Winter Festival: Ditch the post-holiday doldrums at this cozy midwinter fest, which features four nights of timeless classical music.

    February

    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 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, such as premier jazz club Jimmy Mak’s.

    March

    Portland Oregon Women’s Film Festival (POWFest): This four-day event takes place at the Hollywood Theatre and seeks to inspire the next generation of female media makers with roughly 50 films and Q&A sessions.

    Cider Rite of Spring: Named the Best Northwest Cider Festival by Sip Northwest Magazine, Cider Rite of Spring brings together the top regional cider makers for a sweet, tart and bubbly afternoon at downtown Portland’s Tiffany Center.

    Portland Spring Beer and Wine Fest: Shake off the last vestiges of winter at the Oregon Convention Center by previewing the season’s best new brews at this gathering of top West Coast breweries, wineries and distilleries.

    Kell’s Irish Festival: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Kells Irish Pub at the largest St. Paddy’s celebration in Stumptown, which fills four days with traditional pipers, Irish dancing, boxing and plenty of beer.

    Umbrella Festival: Alberta Rose Theatre spotlights theater’s most eccentric mediums with an eclectic collection of circus, burlesque, puppetry and cabaret acts.

    April

    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.

    May

    UFO Festival: Alien-themed parades, pet costume contests and spaceship landing parties unfold at McMinnville’s long-running UFO fest, a destination for alien abduction survivors and those who want to believe.

    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.

    June

    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.

    Bridgetown Comedy Festival: Some of the biggest names in comedy descend upon Portland to perform side-splitting stand-up and improv at the city’s most treasured venues during this five-day event.

    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.

    Vegan Beer & Food Festival: Celebrate Portland’s status as a vegan Mecca with craft brews, kombucha, live music and plenty of plant-based eats (like a meatless Big Mac) at Zidell Yards.

    July

    Oregon Berry Festival: Oregon’s juicy summer bounty is celebrated in full force at Ecotrust with a berry-licious marketplace, cooking demonstrations and the ultimate blackberry pie contest.

    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.

    August

    Pickathon: What started out as a small music festival has grown into one of Stumptown’s most anticipated weekends of the year, luring acts by the likes of Beach House, Mac DeMarco and Ty Segall to nearby Pendarvis Farm.

    Bite of Oregon: Samples and celebrity chefs abound at Waterfront Park for this culinary bonanza featuring cooking demos, live music and an all-Oregon-made craft beer garden.

    Organic Beer Fest: Overlook Park hosts sustainability-minded vendors serving up more than 50 organic beers, ciders and mead, so you can “drink organic and save the planet.”

    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.

    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.

    September

    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: Bon Appétit hosts this renowned food fest, which has 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 Sandwich Invitational.

    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.

    October

    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.

    Handmade Bike and Beer Festival: Oregon Bicycle Constructors Association celebrates two of Portland’s most treasured pastimes in one weekend, hawking handmade rides, live music and plenty of local pours.

    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.

    November

    Wordstock: Portland’s beloved book festival touts a vast book fair, writers’ workshops and readings by local luminaries like Cheryl Strayed and Ursula K. LeGuin.

    Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival: This festival features new works by regional filmmakers, connecting audiences to artists and enriching the Northwest’s film community for four decades and counting, with screenings at Whitsell Auditorium.

    Holiday Food & Gift Festival: For those looking to get a head start on holiday shopping, this event at the Oregon Convention Center hosts more than 300 exhibitors peddling one-of-a-kind gifts. More holiday shopping events >>

    December

    Japanese Currents: Whitsell Auditorium hosts Nipponese films of all varieties offer viewers intimate looks at issues relevant in contemporary Japanese society.

    Festival of Trees: Local designers gather at the Oregon Convention Center to create pine-y magic with more than two-dozen decorated and themed Christmas trees for this Portland holiday tradition.

    Christmas Festival of Lights: All are welcome to witness more than 160 choral performances held inside the dazzling Grotto, which glows softly with 500,000 lights throughout the month of December. More holiday events >>

    Holiday Ale Festival: Sip hearty mugs of holiday cheer in downtown’s Pioneer Courthouse Square at the annual Holiday Ale Festival, which proffers 50 strong ales and barley wines.


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