Portland comes by its eclectic reputation honestly. Sure, we celebrate normal stuff like roses and beer, but we also throw in regular events dedicated to quiet music, strange films and riding bikes while wearing crazy costumes — or nothing at all. From quirky to downright bizarre, here are some of our favorite “Keep Portland Weird” events.
Year-Round Weird Events
Weird Karaoke Nights
In addition to standard karaoke bars, Portland has several unusual singalong offerings: Karaoke from Hell (which happens at multiple bars around Portland, including Dante’s and Spare Room) lets you sing with a live band. In Southeast Portland, Baby Ketten Klub features custom mixes of impossible-to-find songs (and was called “America’s greatest karaoke night” by The New York Times.)
And while karaoke is great, drummers and strummers at heart will love Rock Band Karaoke at Ground Kontrol. This regular gathering of Rock Band video game players offers an astounding selection of more than 3,500 songs, along with professional-level lighting and sound systems. Organized like classic karaoke, musicians can take the stage to be background performers on any song (any level of experience is welcome).
Last Thursdays on Alberta
Closing off 15 blocks of Northeast Alberta Street to cars during summer months, Last Thursday on Alberta has grown fantastically since it started more than 20 years ago. With artists, performers and craftspeople filling the streets and sidewalks, Last Thursday is a great place to get a purely Portland souvenir. And with thousands of people in attendance, it’s also a great place to take in the local flavors.
Weird Events by Month
Filmed by Bike Festival
Showing just how bike-crazy Portland is, the Filmed by Bike festival at Northeast Portland’s historic Hollywood Theatre features bike-themed short movies (each no longer than eight minutes) made by independent filmmakers worldwide.
UFO Festival in McMinnville
Thousands of earthlings flock to McMinnville, a quiet Willamette Valley town located an hour southwest of Portland, every May to attend the city’s famous UFO Festival. Second in popularity only to the UFO festival in Roswell, New Mexico, Oregon’s annual celebration features three full days of parades, costume contests, expert speakers, dance parties, live music and family-friendly fun.
Every summer since 2002, local cyclists have crammed the calendar with hundreds of bike-related events over multiple weeks. The Pedalpalooza roster includes everything from Portland’s iconic World Naked Bike Ride (see below) to the Flamingo Ride (where people dress up themselves and their bikes as — you guessed it — flamingos).
World Naked Bike Ride
Wearing nothing but helmets and smiles (and maybe some body paint and fairy wings), thousands of bicyclists take to Portland streets every summer to protest oil dependency. Portland’s edition of the World Naked Bike Ride is the largest on the planet, but it’s not as serious as it sounds — the nighttime ride snakes all over the city with crowds cheering on the buck-naked bikers.
PDX Adult Soapbox Derby
Every August since 1997, the PDX Adult Soapbox Derby has seen select teams of grown-up kids piloting homemade soapbox derby cars down Southeast Portland’s Mt. Tabor Park. Vehicles have included miniature A-Team vans, Batmobiles and the always popular Flintstones-mobile. Crowds line the track with picnics and bring-your-own beer and wine, cheering on the daring speedsters.
Every year in December, Santa Claus comes to town. A mob of Santas. The annual Stumptown Santacon takes over Portland with hundreds of jolly St. Nicks making the rounds to local bars, spreading holiday cheer over holiday beers.
Uncover Portland’s dark side on this spine-tingling walking pub tour. In the early 1900s, unsuspecting sailors were often ruthlessly abducted and whisked away through the notorious Shanghai Tunnels. Tour guides will tell you how notorious criminals kidnapped thousands of people and why their ghosts still haunt Portland today. This is Portland’s longest-running ghost tour with…
Experience the eccentricity of Portland, Oregon and visit one of its quirkiest neighborhoods on this walking pub tour. This tour is a must-do for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in the fascinating history of the city, including stories of UFO sightings, Bigfoot sightings, exploding whales, wacky bike rides, strange locals, hijackings, hipsters, artists, and…
You show up at a bar or music venue. You grab a drink, and within minutes you’re singing the hell out of your favorite rock song with a hundred other folks and – wait for it – a live band of nationally known musicians. In three-part harmony, no less. Wait, what just happened? Welcome to…
Combining fast-paced comedy, high-energy rock & roll, seductive burlesque, and jaw-dropping acrobatic numbers, this show is the kind of ridiculous spectacle that will have audiences texting their friends, “What did I just see?!”. Seattle hitmakers (Seattle Vice, Bohemia) Mark Siano and Opal Peachey are making their Portland debut with a bawdy new comedic script that…
When hinges creak in a doorless theater, and strange and frightening sounds echo from the stage — that is the time when ghosts are present, practicing their bump and grind with ghoulish delight, in search of foolish mortals like YOU to join their nine hundred and ninety-nine happy haunts at a cabaret like no other….
Stinkfest Queens and Ecotrust present The Annual 2023 Portland Fermentation Festival Come out for the 2023 return of the Portland Fermentation Festival. Joining will be the honorary guest speaker, Kirsten Shockey, co-founder of The Fermentation School and renowned author of several excellent and bestselling fermentation books, including her expert guide, Fermented Vegetables and latest hit,…
Taste the luscious charms and delectable cheekiness of Vintage Portland nightlife as Lacy Productions presents THE BELLE SUPPER CLUB: A Burlesque Dinner Cabaret at the Victorian Belle Mansion in Portland. Escape the everyday and delve into cabaret dreams at THE BELLE SUPPER CLUB (located inside the enclosed and heated garden space) while enjoying dinner, cocktails,…
For lovers of the strange, unusual and bizarre… The Oddities and Curiosities Expo showcases hand-selected vendors, dealers, artists and small businesses from all over the country with all things weird. You’ll find items such as taxidermy, preserved specimens, original artwork, horror/Halloween-inspired pieces, antiques, handcrafted oddities, quack medical devices, creepy clothing, odd jewelry, animal skulls/bones, funeral…
This annual race series consists of paddlers piloting a gaggle of gigantic gourds through a watercourse.
The Portland Zine Symposium is an organization that hosts, among other events, a yearly free conference and zine social exploring facets of independent publishing and DIY culture. This event has been held in Portland, Oregon in the summer since 2001 and hosts over 150 tablers from around the world each year, as well as many…
Join Alberta Abbey on Sunday, October 29th for just the best party as they present the tale of two young, ordinary kids who find themselves in a strange castle with a very eccentric cast of characters. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a cult midnight classic, a Queer sexual awakening, and an all-around good time….
Due to popular demand, Weird Portland United, Portland’s only nonprofit dedicated to keeping things weird, is bringing back the much-hyped Weird Portland Gala for just the second time ever this November. The inaugural event in 2019, billed as a gathering, party, fundraiser, and celebration of weird all rolled into one, featured local celebrities like Darcelle…
Kumoricon showcases anime and Japanese culture every November in Portland. Gaining its namesake (kumori) from the Japanese word "cloudy," Kumoricon embodies the best parts of fandom and what it is to live in the Pacific Northwest. Stretching across generations, anime fans have gathered together for an amazing annual event. The Kumoricon family grows yearly, making…
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