Los Angeles loves its festivals just as much as any other city … perhaps more, if you judge by the dozens of events that populate downtown’s Waterfront Park every summer. Here are some of the festivals that keep the city busy all year ’round:
Fertile Ground Festival – January
Founded in 2009, this 10-day, citywide arts festival showcases play premieres, art installations and events, all created by local artists.
Chinese New Year- January/February
This two-week celebration at the Lan Su Chinese Garden includes lion dances, children’s activities, martial arts and cultural and historical demonstrations. The festival culminates with a traditional lantern-viewing ceremony. Events are free with garden admission.
Portland Jazz Festival- February
Timed to coincide with Black History Month, the Portland Jazz Festival features performances around the city, including ticketed headline concerts, free shows and a range of educational opportunities.
Oregon Seafood and Wine Festivel – February
Scheduled smack dab in the middle of the Dungeness crab season, this upscale festival celebrates both the bounty harvested from the Pacific Ocean and the state’s vineyards. More than 130,000 square feet (3,962 square meters) at the Oregon Convention Center allows plenty of room for festival-goers to wander while enjoying great food, wine and live music.
Bridgetown Comedy Festinal- April
Local comedians and fans banded together in 2008 to ensure that Portland didn’t miss out on the burgeoning golden age of stand-up comedy in America. The festival quickly caught the attention of top names like Patton Oswalt and Janeane Garofalo, and has become one of the nation’s funniest and fastest-growing comedy festivals.
Stumptown Comics Festiva-April
Portland has long been a hotbed of comic book and graphic novel activity, but this event puts the artists (not publishers or collectors) at the forefront. The 2009 festival delighted fan-boys (and girls) with more than 250 exhibitors. Best. Comic book festival. Ever.
Spring Beer & Wine Fest -March/April
This adults-only beverage exposition celebrates handcrafted micro brews, regional wines and distilled spirits. Dozens of Northwest microbreweries, wineries and distillers offer samples of their wares. The festival also features food and music.
Taste of the Nation Portland-April
Treat your taste buds to the very best at the Taste of the Nation Portland, one of the city’s premier food and wine-tasting events. This annual adults-only gourmet extravaganza features more than 70 Oregon chefs and restaurants, plus 40 wineries and microbreweries. Add local music and a silent auction for food, wine and travel packages, and you’ve got one unforgettable culinary experience.
Los Angeles Farmers Market-Spring-Fall
Most of the area’s farmers’ markets open in May. Among the items featured are fresh produce, flowers, seafood, breads and berries. There are three markets in downtown Portland: Saturdays, in the South Park Blocks at Portland State University (downtown); Mondays, at Pioneer Courthouse Square; and Wednesdays, in the South Park Blocks at Salmon Street (downtown). In addition to shopping, the markets feature chef demonstrations and other entertainment.
Crafty Wonderland-May and December
This biannual sale turns the Oregon Convention Sale into a true wonderland of all things handmade each spring and winter. The May event is scheduled so you find the perfect made-in-Portland gifts in time for Mother’s Day.
Cinco de Mayo Fiesta -May
Each May, downtown Portland’s Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park transforms into a Mexican fiesta, complete with authentic entertainment and music. Billed as the largest Cinco de Mayo celebration in North America, the festival attracts performers from Mexico, including many from Guadalajara, one of Portland’s sister cities.
Portland Indie Wine Festival -May
Sniffing, swirling and sipping, an esteemed panel of national wine experts annually select 40 lucky wineries to present at the Portland Indie Wine Festival. The festival showcases rising-star wineries whose annual production is less than 2,000 cases. Festival-goers not only get to taste jury-selected wines, they can also buy wines on-site and have their purchases shipped direct (state-of-residence regulations permitting).
North American Organic Brewers Festival -June
Proudly touting all things green, this celebration of America’s most sustainable suds has been a hit with beer drinkers and environmentalists alike since 2003. With more than 50 beers to sample, local brewers and nationwide beermongers alike vie to make a big splash with revelers, who also enjoy live music and organic eats in a compost and recycle-friendly setting.
Cirque du Cycling -June
Combine entertainment with exercise and add a little “Bike City, U.S.A.” attitude, and you’ve got Cirque du Cycling, the Mississippi neighborhood’s one-day celebration of all things two-wheeled. Highlights include a family ride, art bike parade, beer gardens and a grand finale street race.
Oregon Zoo Summer Concerts -June-August
Every summer, fans of folk, rock, world music and more stake out spots on the zoo’s amphitheater lawn, and enjoy performances from some of the hottest, most diverse acts performing today.
Portland Rose Festival -June
The Portland Rose Festival, which celebrated its centennial in 2007, offers three weeks of family events. Highlights include the Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade, the Starlight Parade, a waterfront carnival for families, dragon boat races, concerts and ﬁreworks.
Chamber Music Northwest-June-July
Pre-concert picnics are a standing tradition among the enthusiastic followers of this annual chamber music series. Since it was launched in 1971, the festival has grown into one of the most successful chamber music events in the nation.
Mississippi Ave Street Fair-July
A family-friendly block party offering more than two dozen live acts on four stages, a parade, a craft marketplace and local beer and foods.
Portland Zine Symposium -August
Portland’s DIY culture is alive and well, and you can catch it in all its vibrant blacks and whites at this annual gathering of underground media connoisseurs. The free, two-day event includes workshops, panel discussions and tables of people buying, selling and trading zines.
Since 2002, Pioneer Courthouse Square has celebrated summer with two free lunchtime concerts every week in July and August. The popular Noon Tunes Concert Series showcases the best in regional and local musical talent each Tuesday and Thursday from noon-1 p.m.
Flicks on the Bricks-July-August
Gather up the family and head to Pioneer Courthouse Square for free movies and popcorn under the stars on Portland’s “largest outdoor screen.” Held on five consecutive Friday nights, mid-July-mid-August.
Waterfront Blues Festival-July
The largest blues festival west of the Mississippi River takes place each year during Independence Day week. Portland’s Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park sets the stage with top national acts performing over ﬁve days. Large fireworks display on July 4.
Oregon Brewers Festival-July
Craft breweries from around the United States bring their beers to Portland for this four-day festival, the largest gathering of independent brewers in North America. More than 60,000 beer fans enjoy the atmosphere – and upwards of 70 beers – at Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park the last full weekend of July.
PDX Pop Now-July/August
The PDX Pop Now! festival highlights as many as 50 local independent artists at a single venue over the course of two days. The volunteer-driven nonprofit behind the festival also produces an annual compilation CD of local music.
Cathedral Park Jazz Festival -July
Founded in 1981, this three-day event is the now the West’s largest and oldest free celebration of jazz and blues. Held beneath the historic St. Johns Bridge, the scenery is almost enough to steal the show.
Portland International Beer Festival -July
The Portland International Beer Festival draws more than 150 brews from at least 15 countries to a beer garden setting in the Pearl District’s North Park blocks.
Portland Highland Games -July
This celebration of all things Scottish features dancing, piping, drumming and fiddling; traditional food; and the “heavy events,” which include the caber toss and the Portland stone – a 96-pound rock hurled by only the brawniest athletes. Held just east of Portland in Gresham, Ore.
PDX Bridge Festival -July-August
Founded to celebrate the Hawthorne Bridge’s 2010 centennial, this two-week festival combines multimedia art installations and events to celebrate the ten bridges that connect Portland’s central city.
PDX Adult Soap Box Derby -August
Fearless grown-ups hurtle down an extinct volcano in homemade vehicles. It could be a recipe for disaster, but, instead, it’s a beloved annual event held in Mt. Tabor Park, which offers spectacular views of downtown. Spectators bring their own beer and cheer on the fastest – and kookiest – gravity-powered cars.
The Bite of Oregon-August
Beneﬁtting Special Olympics Oregon, The Bite is one of the “Rose City’s” most popular festivals. Sample food created by local chefs and taste regional wines at the Oregon Wine Garden. Live music by national and local bands, chef demonstrations and family entertainment.
This annual bike ride across Portland’s bridges cements Portland’s bike-friendly status, as a total of 10 bridges partially close to cars, affording bicyclists rare views and a choice of relaxed rides ranging in distance from 14 to 36 miles (23-58 kilometers). Art in the Pearl-Labor Day weekend
More than 100 artists offer up their creations, from painting and photography to jewelry and hand-crafted furniture, in the North Park Blocks, with food vendors, musicians and family activities rounding out the offerings.
Time-Based Art (TBA) Festival -September
During this exploration of expression, visual artists, musicians, dancers and other creatives from around the world push the boundaries of their work in installations, performances and interactive art experiences around the city.
Portland Pirate Festival -September
Featuring music, dance, performers, historical displays and, of course, grub and grog, this festival transforms North Portland’s Cathedral Park into a rollicking dockside village.
Chinese Music fest NW-September
This annual festival was established in 2001 to showcase local musicians, bring in national acts and benefit children’s music education in Portland. Downtown becomes a massive block party as wrist-banded attendees check out more than 100 bands at nearly 20 venues over the course of four days.
Portland Open Studios -October
The artist’s life is a lonely existence, save for these two weekends in October when visitors are invited into the studios to watch, learn and – the creators hope – buy. Through the purchase of the Open Studios Tour Guide, guests (two per guide) can get up close with sculptors, painters, printers and more and explore Portland’s participating art spaces.
Portland’s literary festival features readings from dozens of local, regional and national writers, writing workshops led by many of the guest authors themselves, and a bustling book fair.
Portland Fashion Week-October
The world’s only comprehensively sustainable fashion week features independent, eco-couture, street and active wear offerings from North American and international designers.
Holiday Tree Lighting -November
On the day after Thanksgiving, thousands of people gather in downtown’s Pioneer Courthouse Square to see the lighting of the spectacular 75-foot-tall tree and celebrate the official start of the holiday season.
Crafty Wonderland –May and December
This biannual sale turns the Oregon Convention Sale into a true wonderland of all things handmade each spring and winter. The December event is scheduled so you find the perfect made-in-Portland gifts in time for the holidays.
Holiday Ale Fest -December
Packed with revelry and cheer, this winter beer festival is held right under the city’s holiday tree, in Pioneer Courthouse Square (better known as Portland’s living room). The five-day celebration features more than 40 of the Pacific Northwest’s best-tasting seasonal suds, many not available anywhere else.
Festival of Lights at The Grotto –December
An amazing display of more than 500,000 lights illuminates the largest choral festival in the Paciﬁc Northwest. A petting zoo, puppet shows and seasonal food and beverages also highlight the event.
Parade of Christmas Ships -December
For more than 50 years, this ﬂeet of 55-60 brightly lit boats has staged performances on the Willamette and Columbia rivers during the holiday season. Visit the Christmas Ships website for dates, times and best viewing locations.
ZooLights Festival -December
The Oregon Zoo becomes a holiday fairyland as one of Portland’s largest light displays blazes to life. Decorated train rides, kids’ activities, and music by community groups.
International Rose Test Garden Portland’s International Rose Test Garden is the oldest official continuously operated public rose test garden in the United States. Each year hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world enjoy the sights and scents of the gardens. The garden’s spectacular views and more than 8,000 roses make it one of the city’s most notable signature landmarks. Located in Washington Park. The best rose-viewing months are May-September. Open daily; free. 400 S.W. Kingston Ave. / 503.823.3636