Know Before You Go
Pre-registration is encouraged for this event, and life jackets are required for all participants. For the most up-to-date information, please visit the event website.
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.
Upcoming Dates & Times
- July 9
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.
Pedalpalooza 2021 will last all June, July and August to allow more opportunities for smaller group rides. All ride leaders and participants will be required to wear face masks. Visit the Pedalpalooza website for more details. Every year, Pedalpalooza brings over four weeks of biking fun with special rides and events throughout Portland. With over…
Every June, the Portland Pride Festival & Parade makes a name for itself — and LGBTQ+ community members — all over town.
Open every Saturday from March–December, Portland Saturday Market is the largest arts-and-crafts fair in the U.S.
Juneteenth Oregon celebrates the date in 1865 when Major General Gordon Granger read “General Order No. 3,” in Galveston, Texas, declaring that all slaves were free. This year live stream this annual celebration at pdxjazz.com or juneteenthor.com.
The popular Woodstock Farmers Market features fresh produce, baked goods, fresh juices, sweets, cheese, meat and more from 30+ vendors, along with artisan-made products like jewelry, ceramics and art.
This boisterous street fair attracts independent artists, performers, local bands, troupes of acrobats, buskers, makers and more to celebrate their art on Northeast Alberta Street. Held year-round, the event is biggest from June through August, when the street is closed to traffic during the festivities from 15th Avenue to 30th Avenue.
EVENT CANCELED FOR 2021 . Please visit the event website for current information. Bring family and friends to enjoy non-stop Italian food, entertainment, dancing, vendors, wine and beer gardens at the annual Festa Italiana.
Hot-air balloons take flight mere minutes from downtown Portland every summer.
Was this page helpful?