Portland Celebrates the Arts

December 29, 2015 (Updated January 2, 2020)

With falling temperatures outside, winter bring us indoors and heats up our creative lives. It’s a great time to explore the arts with annual festivals celebrating music, film and live performances of all stripes. Spend some time in Portland this winter at one of these fabulous wintertime festivals.

The PDX Jazz Festival celebrates jazz music with performances from internationally acclaimed musicians and talented locals.
The Reel Music Festival celebrates music through film, like “The Amazing Nina Simone.”

The Portland Folk Festival unfolds downtown at the McMenamins Crystal Ballroom Jan. 10 and 11, 2020. This year’s lineup includes folk favorites like Anna Tivel, Jeffery Martin, Cedar Teeth and Glitterfox. The historic ballroom with its spring-loaded dance floor has drawn friendly crowds of music lovers for more than 100 years.

The Reel Music Festival celebrates music through film in all genres from jazz and blues to folk, rock and classical from Jan. 24 to Feb. 16, 2020. Previous festivals have highlighted diverse musical greats like the late Elliot Smith, bluegrass legends the Carter Family and hip hop star Nas. Don’t miss special director talks, live music and screenings. Events are typically held at the Northwest Film Center at the Portland Art Museum.

Chinese New Year is the focus at Lan Su Chinese Garden from Jan. 25 to Feb. 9, 2020. Perfect for families, this festival highlights Chinese culture in a celebration of lion dances, music, martial arts performances and Chinese folk art. Don’t miss the Lantern Viewing Evenings, which end with dramatic and memorable dragon processions.

Dragon dancers celebrate Chinese New Year at the Lan Su Chinese Garden.
Chinese New Year at the Lan Su Chinese Garden is a perfect outing for families.

The Fertile Ground Festival spotlights new work in the arts at venues around the city from Jan. 30 through Feb. 9, 2020. This fringe festival highlights the city’s finest local artists and performers in live theater, dance, comedy, visual art and film. The festival includes workshops, dance performances, readings and multiple world premieres, all produced by Portland-based artists.

Portland Winter Light Festival illuminates the darkness of the winter season with a host of unique and interactive live performances staged around town from February 6 through 8, 2020. Attendees can participate in a range of festive events from fire dancing and lantern parades to pop-up art and fireside storytelling.

The Portland International Film Festival showcases more than 125 international shorts and feature films at Northwest Film Center at the Portland Art Museum.
A metal dragon blows out fire in front of a wowed crowd.
Portland Winter Light Festival illuminates winter at OMSI and beyond.

The world-famous PDX Jazz Festival takes center stage Feb. 19 through March 1, 2020 in a celebration of Black History Month. This year’s highlights include performances from luminaries like NEA Jazz Master Archie Shepp, Branford Marsalis, Larry Carlton and Stanley Jordon, Terry Riley, Antibalas and Kandace Springs. Festival events take place at more than a dozen venues around town and feature the talent of many Portland-based artists.

The 43rd annual Portland International Film Festival showcases more than 125 international shorts and feature films from March 6 to 15, 2020 at Northwest Film Center at the Portland Art Museum. In addition to film screenings, the festival includes special events, visiting artists and gatherings. Screenings take place at theaters around town. Previous festival winners include narrative feature “Conducta” from Cuba and documentary “Sunshine Superman” from the U.S. Check the website for a list of films. This year’s festival integrates the 46th annual Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival into proceedings.

About The

Eileen Garvin
Eileen Garvin lives and writes in Hood River. When she’s not hunched over her keyboard or digging in the garden, you can find her mountain biking, kiteboarding, hiking, skiing or camping somewhere in Oregon.

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