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.
Portland Saturday Market, the largest arts-and-crafts fair in the United States, opens every Saturday and Sunday from March–December. The market combines the vibes of an arts show, a live street concert and an open-air bazaar, this riverside market has been a beloved Rose City tradition since 1974. In fact, the market is considered the largest…
Shop for handmade crafts, snack on traditional recipes and enjoy entertainment straight from Guadalajara at this popular Cinco de Mayo festival.
Every year, Pedalpalooza brings over four weeks of biking fun with special rides and events throughout Portland. With over 100 different events (most organized by individuals), bikers of all persuasions are likely to find many events of interest. Nearly all events are free.
Portland Beer Week spotlights Portland’s breweries, high-quality brews and vibrant beer culture.
Every June, the Portland Pride Festival & Parade makes a name for itself — and LGBTQ+ community members — all over town.
At the 35th Festival of Balloons in Tigard, the hot air balloons are definitely the featured attraction, but it’s more than balloons! The Festival of Balloons is a place for families and friends to gather, play and relax. Join up in the pre-dawn hours as approximately 20 hot air balloons launch into the morning sky…
Sequins, boas and a rainbow of talent mark LGBTQ variety show Peacock in the Park’s takeover of Washington Park.
Every Fourth of July weekend, the Waterfront Blues Festival takes over downtown Portland’s Waterfront Park.