: NashCO Photo

Ultimate Guide to Summer Events in Portland

From roses and trolls to jazz and cycling, add these events to your calendar.
May 28, 2024

Summer is just around the corner, and in Portland, we’re ready for long, sunny days and a full calendar of outdoor activities, cultural festivals and celebrations. For some this time of year means spending weekends sprawled out in grassy parks while listening to live music performances and enjoying global food from street vendors. For others it’s all watching colorful floats and energetic marching bands at parades with the kids. However you like to spend your Portland summers, here are some events you won’t want to miss.

A large floating parade boat depicts a woman, deer and wildflowers.
See incredible parade floats at the Rose Festival. (Courtesy of Portland Rose Festival Foundation)

Parades and Cultural Celebrations in June

Since 1907 Portlanders have been ringing in the summertime with the Portland Rose Festival. Although this may sound like a flower show, it’s actually a celebration of civic pride featuring loads of special events, from a carnival to boat races. Key events include the CareOregon Starlight Parade, an after-dark procession of illuminated floats and lively marching bands, and the festival’s star event: the Grand Floral Parade.  

The parades don’t stop with the Rose Festival. The Juneteenth Oregon Annual Celebration kicks off Freedom Day with the Clara Peoples Freedom Trail Parade, named for a Black activist who founded the celebration over half a century ago. The route starts from Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School to Lillis-Albina Park, where live music and food and craft vendors await. The Delta Park Powwow honors Native American traditions and cultures from across the Pacific Northwest. Highlights of this three-day, family-friendly event include dancing, drumming, cultural presentations and tasty food.

Although the Nordic Northwest campus in the green outskirts of Southwest Portland might be best known for Ole Bolle, a gargantuan troll made from recycled materials, it’s also the site of the annual Oregon Midsummer Festival. This two-day celebration honors the summer solstice with live entertainment, floral crown-making and loads of Scandinavian-inspired food and crafts. The fun kicks off with a parade and the raising of the Midsummer Pole, which has been taking place annually in Oregon for nearly a century.

Blues musicians performing to an audience on land and on boat at the Portland waterfront.
The Waterfront Blues Festival. (Courtesy of NashCO Photo)

Music, Pride and Sneakers in July

July is a great time to be a music lover in Portland, with multiple outdoor festivals that draw world-class acts to Portland stages. The season kicks off with the Waterfront Blues Festival, four days of live music staged right in the heart of downtown’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park. The park will also host Project Pabst, which will bring acts like Billy Idol, T-Pain and the Violent Femmes to Portland, alongside acts such as Manchester Orchestra and Portland’s own indie pop band STRFKR. In North Portland’s St. Johns neighborhood, the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival treats visitors to a full weekend of jazz music in a beautiful riverfront parkland.

July also brings Portland Pride, which honors the LGBTQ+ community with a two-day festival at Waterfront Park and a parade. Activities might include pageants, games and drag queen performances. 

Footwear fans won’t want to miss Sneaker Week, which brings sneakerheads and industry pros together to celebrate Portland’s favorite type of shoe. Expect a mix of industry lectures, workshops and social events such as DJ nights. Pair it with a visit to the Portland Art Museum to check out “Future Now: Virtual Sneakers to Cutting-Edge Kicks,” a temporary exhibit showcasing futuristic footwear concepts.

A person riding a homemade soapbox car down a makeshift track at Mt. Tabor while people watch.
Be a racer or a spectator at the PDX Adult Soapbox Derby in August. (Courtesy of Jason DeSomer)

Heritage and Outdoors Events in August

As summer continues, Portland celebrates heritage and communities. Many of the city’s global festivities are staged at downtown’s Pioneer Courthouse Square, including the Chinese Festival, which features live entertainment, Chinese food vendors and an art show. In Southeast Portland’s Jade District, the Jade International Night Market celebrates Portland’s Asian American and Pacific Islander communities with live dance and music performances, as well as loads of vendors selling crafts and tasty treats. At the annual Middle Eastern Festival at Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Church, try spinach pies or flaky baklava and browse items for the silent auction.

August’s typically fantastic weather makes it a great time to get out and get active. The Providence Hood & Portland to Coast Relays, known simply as “Hood to Coast” by many, is the world’s largest walking and running relay race. This summer hit brings together teams from across Oregon and beyond to race from Portland or Mt. Hood to the Oregon Coast. The Providence Bridge Pedal allows cyclists of all levels to cross the Fremont Bridge and the Marquam Bridge, both of which are normally closed to nonmotorized traffic. (For more cycling events, check out Pedalpalooza, which takes place from June through August.)

For even more wheeled fun, cheer on the adventurous drivers in the PDX Adult Soapbox Derby, which takes place at Mt. Tabor Park and is free to attend. Creatively crafted cars barrel downhill in this race to the finish line.

About The

Margot Bigg
Margot Bigg grew up in Portland and England and after many years living in Europe and Asia (including six years in India), she once again calls the City of Roses home. When not traveling and writing, Margot spends her time studying new languages, discovering new music and seeking out new places to explore. She speaks English, French and Hindi, and is the author of Moon Living Abroad in India and Moon Taj Mahal, Delhi & Jaipur; and a co-author of Fodor's Essential India, Fodor's Oregon, and Fodor's Pacific Northwest.

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