Know Before You Go
The Big Float 2020 has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. People are encouraged to do The Big Float On Your Own (TBFOYO). For the most up-to-date information, please visit the event organizer’s Facebook page.
Every summer since 2011, thousands of wet and wild revelers have formed a massive flotilla on the Willamette River next to downtown. Why? From Portland’s mayor to a bare-chested Batman, they do it because they can.
Every July, The Big Float sets sail! A celebration of the river that runs through the city, this collection of inner tubes, floating loungers and inflatable toys makes a scene with a pre-float parade, but nothing beats the image of this motley crew enjoying the sun and splashing around at the height of Portland’s summer.
The flotilla drifts downstream about half a mile before putting out at the Tom McCall bowl just south of the Hawthorne Bridge in downtown’s Waterfront Park. Floaters supply their own tubes and life jackets, and the most outlandish watercraft and costumes earn awards.
The Big Float usually begins with a morning beach clean-up, followed by a synchronized swim performance by the Rose City Raindrops. Two inner tube parades then take to the street to march toward their put in point at Poet’s Beach, while a floating barge with live music sets the mood throughout the day. The Big Float culminates in an after party at Tom McCall Bowl Beach where the most creative float and costume winners were crowned.
More of a landlubber? You can watch from the Hawthorne Bridge or breeze into the beach party, where food carts and live music make a real splash. The Big Float is also the main annual fundraiser for the Human Access Project, a non-profit local organization that helps increase access to the Willamette River.
Swimming Holes Near Portland
Stay cool all summer long at these serene swimming spots, surrounded by the stunning natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest — and all less than an hour away from Portland.
Make a Splash in the Willamette River
The river, which bisects the city into east and west sides, is a virtual aquatic playground, with kayakers, fishers and swimmers enjoying the water.
Amusement & Water Parks
Portland and the surrounding region offer a variety of amusements and entertainments for the young and young at heart.
Kayaking in and Around Portland
When the weather heats up, folks flock to the water. For paddlers, that typically means hitting one the many rivers in and near Portland.
Where to Stand-Up Paddle Board Around Portland
Find a fresh perspective on local waterways with these paddling classes, lake tours and even SUP yoga classes.
Whitewater Rafting Near Portland
Conquer rapids, spot wildlife and experience nature in a new way at these favorite spots for whitewater rafting near Portland.
Open every Saturday and Sunday from March–December, Portland Saturday Market is the largest arts-and-crafts fair in the U.S.
Every Fourth of July weekend, the Waterfront Blues Festival takes over downtown Portland’s Waterfront Park.
Portland hosts dozens of beer festivals every year, but none compares to the Oregon Brewers Festival. With offerings from 80 craft brewers, the event draws nearly 70,000 attendees to the downtown waterfront every July.