Every year for more than a century, the City of Roses* has thrown itself a massive party in the form of the Portland Rose Festival. Declared the city’s official festival in 2010, the celebration includes more than 60 events, starting in late May and ending in mid-June. With the festival comes parades, carnival rides, art shows, dragon boat races, fun runs and more. (Best of all, everyone is invited) For a full list of events and activities, check the festival’s website.
Know Before You Go
*Portland is known as the “City of Roses” because the weather is ideal for growing them. There are three fabulous rose gardens in Portland. The best-known is the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park. Whatever you do during Rose Festival, take time to smell the roses.
Portland Rose Festival Events in 2023
Portland Rose Festival festival kicks off with a spectacular Opening Night Fireworks Show on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. For a great view, grab a seat on the Ferris wheel at CityFair, a celebration spanning three weekends at downtown Portland’s Waterfront Park. CityFair features carnival rides, food and beer and live music, along with a headlining performer that’s a guaranteed party starter.
A stroll along the waterfront will yield a much different view, as the Portland Rose Festival has acted as a U.S. Port of Call for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy for over 80 years. Known as Fleet Week, gigantic naval ships line the shore, giving visitors an up-close view of our nation’s seafaring military vessels and a chance to meet sailors, take on-board tours and learn about the U.S. Navy firsthand.
The Portland Rose Festival Dragon Boat Races bring the party to the Willamette River as 60 local, national and international teams compete in ornate boats provided by the Portland-Kaohsiung Sister City Association.
The popular evening Starlight Parade features illuminated floats and a section with syncopated drummers and roller derby teams (and is preceded by a 5 km [3.1 mile] race filled with runners dressed in costumes).
The festival’s hallmark event, the Grand Floral Parade, has delighted crowds for over 115 years with all-floral floats, marching bands and equestrian units — in addition to vintage vehicles, colorful dancers, vintage vehicles, llamas and so much more.
Dating back to 1973, Portland locals have been showing off their ingenuity and creativity at the Royal Rosarians Milk Carton Boat Race. Racing human-powered boats made out of recycled milk cartons and jugs. The innovative mariners compete in different categories, including the esteemed Best in Show.
The Rose Festival Court is presented, and a new reigning queen is named during the Rose Festival Queen’s Coronation. The new queen is judged based on several factors, including school activities and civic involvement. She will represent Portland and the Rose Festival for one year at appearances both nationally and internationally and receives a scholarship.
Get to the fragrant source at the Portland Rose Society Annual Spring Rose Show, the nation’s largest and longest-running rose show, which brings more than 4,000 blooms to Lloyd Center in Northeast Portland.
When the sun finally comes out, Portlanders celebrate their favorite things: festivals, music, beer, art and food.
Portland Parks & Recreation offers over 400 free events including free movie screenings, concerts and rock climbing.
Portlanders' pent-up desire for sun may explain our skill at making the most of summer's long days and warm nights with outdoor concerts.
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