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
When summertime heats up in Portland, cooling off is as easy as heading to one of the city's many riverfront beaches or docks for a refreshing dip or getting the gear for water sports such as kayaking, or SUP.
With a major river smack-dab in the center of the city, it’s no surprise that Portland and the surrounding region offer an abundance of water-centric fun, from whitewater rafting and swimming to fishing and windsurfing.
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 Paddleboard Around Portland
Find out where to stand-up paddleboard in Portland, as well as where to find SUP lessons, paddleboard rentals, guided lake tours and 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.
With its carts and vendors selling delicious meals under a lush green canopy of trees, this downtown farmer’s market at Shemanski Park is a popular lunch spot for good reason. Portland residents and visitors also use this shaded destination to buy locally grown groceries for dinner — or supplies for an al fresco picnic. (Wednesdays…
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.
Open every Saturday from March–December, Portland Saturday Market is the largest arts-and-crafts fair in the U.S.
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.
EVENT ON HIATUS IN 2021 AND EXPECTED TO RETURN IN 2022. Please visit the event website for current information. Considered the “hub” of the annual Portland Rose Festival, CityFair fills Waterfront Park with carnival rides, concerts, food and fireworks for multiple weekends during the festival.
EVENT POSTPONED UNTIL 2022. Please visit the event website for current information. For more than 40 years, Portland’s Starlight Parade has offered funky, eclectic fun for everyone. From traditional marching bands and flood-lit floats, to glow-in-the-dark umbrellas and unique hand-built entries, you’ll see the best of Portland’s diverse community groups (and surrounding Northwest region) together…
EVENT POSTPONED UNTIL 2022. Please visit the event website for current information. A cherished highlight of the Portland Rose Festival, this popular procession is more than a spectacular floral-filled parade; it’s a beloved annual tradition. For more than 100 years, Portland families, visitors and community groups have been making memories at the Rose Festival Grand…
“The Nation’s Greatest Fourth of July Rodeo” will return for the 84th year with the promise of top rodeo action, family fun and patriotism. Six rodeo performances, sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, will feature the top rodeo cowboys and livestock in the World. Also featuring a Wild West Art Show, Tack Room Saloon,…
2021 event has been canceled. The festival will return in 2022 at the following July dates. The Portland Craft Beer Festival brings a huge outdoor party to the Fields Neighborhood Park, along with a huge selection of local beers, ciders and wine, originating from Portland, Oregon breweries. Only beers, plus ciders and wine, crafted within…
The annual Harefest music festival in Canby presents the Northwest’s best tribute bands performing on three stages over two days. The Harefest experience has been described by many attendees and performers as “adult summer camp” not only for the fun-loving, good-natured attendees but also because of its rustic location and tent camping around the festival…
Every summer since 2011, thousands of people swim and float in the Willamette River for the annual Big Float event.
Portland Fashion Week, the Sundance™ of Fashion Weeks, is the 3rd oldest fashion week series in the United States, TIME ™ Magazine’s “BEST Indie Fashion Week in the USA since 2012, and the only carbon-negative fashion week in the world as outlined by The Huffington Post. From top-of-the-line eco-chic fashion experiences to our support for…
Multi-Platinum songstress Alicia Keys is bringing her brand new ‘Alicia’ tour to Portland on Aug 31, 2022. Alicia Augello Cook, known professionally as Alicia Keys, is an American singer-songwriter. A classically-trained pianist, Keys began composing songs by age 12 and was signed at 15 years old by Columbia Records.
Meet Oregon’s Wine Country. People around the world have fallen in love with its premier pinot noir, and once you’re here it’s hard not to fall in love with the place too. Here you’ll find that communities are tight-knit, talented, and creative. While the country roads are quiet, the sweeping vistas, pods of old-growth forest,…
Was this page helpful?