One of Portland’s most prestigious—if not the most well known—festivals, the Rose Festival, was established more than 100 years ago.
Although Portland is most commonly known as the city of Roses, it very well could be titled the city of Festivals. Each year Portlanders come out mingle and celebrate at the numerous festivals around town. The festivals reflect the local culture of Portland and reveal what Portlanders are passionate about—whether it be nature with the Rose and Muddy Boot Organic Festivals, food and drink with the Oregon Brewfest and Taste of Oregon, or music with the Waterfront Blues and Music City Festivals.
Portland Rose Festival
One of Portland’s most prestigious—if not the most well known—festivals, the Rose Festival, was established more than 100 years ago. The first Rose Festival occurred in 1905 when Portland Mayor Harry Lane decided a festival was appropriate to celebrate the successful Lewis and Clark expedition. More than two million festival-goers attend annually, and in 2007 the Rose Festival was named the best festival in the world by the International Festivals and Events Association.
Portland International Film Festival
Drawing an audience of more than 35,000, the Portland International Film Festival is the largest of its kind in the state. The festival showcases a range of visiting artists and film genres that include international films, shorts, documentaries and animation. Festival screen locations include the Regal Broadway Metroplex and the Portland Art Museum.
Portland Pirate Festival
Bust out your old Captain Hook and Jack Sparrow outfits, and go experience the slightly strange but entertaining Pirate Festival. In 2009, the festival claimed the Guinness World Record for the most pirates gathered in one place. This family-oriented festival offers plenty of pirate music, re-enactments, merchants, grub and grog.
For individuals who perceive themselves as bookworms, the annual Wordstock Festival could be considered heaven on earth. Celebrating books, writers and storytelling, the festival boasts 10 author stages and a book fair with more than 150 exhibitors.Wordstock is the largest festival of literature and literacy in the Pacific Northwest.
Holiday Ale Festival
Held in the middle of winter, the Holiday Ale Festival will warm up the body and spirits of all who attend. With more than 50 winter ales to choose from, drinkers are sure to have a great time under the clear-top tent that spans over Pioneer Courthouse Square. If the ale does not keep you warm, the gas heaters scattered throughout sure will.
Portland Seafood and Wine Festival
This event takes place in the Oregon Convention Center in downtown Portland and can be described as upscale and festive. More than 50 wineries are represented with their products available for sampling, and events include a wine competition, the celebrity crab cracking and the oyster shuck and swallow contest. Portions of the admission charge go to the Oregon chapter of the National MS Society.
Muddy Boot Organic Festival
This annual festival celebrates local organic foods and sustainable living in Portland. The Muddy Boot Organic Festival is comprised of live music and entertainment, local vendors offering organic cuisine and craft, workshops and educational forums. The festival provides open space for attendees to reflect and explore the spirituality of caring for the earth.
Christmas Festival of Lights
With more than half a million lights on display, this festival will get visitors in the holiday spirit. In addition to the lights, puppet shows, the Grotto Carolers, a petting zoo and theatrical performances will entertain. For individuals who love to overindulge in Christmas music during the season, the festival puts on more than 140 holiday music concerts.
Spring Beer and Wine Festival
Established in 1994 by native Oregonian Steve Woolard, the Spring Beer and Wine Festival is known as the nation’s largest springtime sampling event. Located in the Oregon Convention Center, enjoy fine craft beer, wine and spirits while watching chef demonstrations and the various food and craft vendors.
Situated on the banks of the Willamette River, the Oregon Brewfest is the perfect place to quench a July thirst with fine craft beer. With up to 70,000 attendees during the four-day event, the Oregon Brewers Festival is one of the nation’s largest and longest running craft beer festivals. The festival features more than 81 hand-crafted beers from breweries across the nation. The event also includes live music, beer memorabilia displays, beer writers and publishers, home brewing demos and a plethora of food vendors.
River City Music Festival
Established in January 2005, the River City Music Festival celebrates the bluegrass, acoustic and Americana genres of music. The structure of the performances break down to 70 percent bluegrass music and 30 percent acoustic Americana, which includes folk music, Texas swing, gospel and country music. The festival encourages attendees to bring their own instruments so they can “jam” in between onstage performances.
Waterfront Blues Festival
Waterfront Blues Festival is the largest blues festival on the west coast and the second largest blues festival in the nation. In addition to music on land blues cruises are offered on the Portland Spirit which goes up and down the Willamette River. There are three different stages on the boat and cruises are offered in the afternoon and evening. Past performances at the festival include Keb Mo, Johnny Winter, Isaac Hayes, Canned Heat, Taj Mahal along with hundreds more. Four stages are set up and more than one-hundred and fifty artists perform each year.
The Bite of Oregon
Held on the Tom McCall Waterfront, the Bite of Oregon offers more than 80 menu items from restaurants throughout Oregon. To wash down the tasty eats, stop at one of the 38 vintners or any of the 12 local beer brewers present at the event. Several stages are located around the grounds that allow local chefs to display their talents.