Springtime is in the air, and soon Oregon will be blanketed in pops of bright colors everywhere: tulips, peonies, irises, dahlias, lavender, rhododendrons, roses and more. Lucky for us, there’s a festival for nearly every bloom. But the festivals are celebrations of much more than flowers. They bring together local communities, and carry on traditions Oregonians remember for generations. The season kicks off this month with the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in the Willamette Valley, and continues through the summer. Get your fix of gorgeous blossoms throughout the state at these festivals:
Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival
Pack a picnic and head out to Woodburn for the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival (March-April). Explore the tulips, all in brilliant, Easter-inspired hues. This year’s festival boasts 40 acres of flower fields and offers food by Mt. Angel Sausage Company, tram and hay wagon rides, a children’s play area and wine tasting nearby. Don’t forget your camera and rubber boots.
Camellia Festival and Run/Walk
In the northern Willamette Valley, Newberg hosts a festival each April dedicated to the city’s official flower: the camellia. The daylong Camellia Festival and Run/Walk (April) celebrates the cultural roots of the wildly diverse flower, which originated in eastern and southern Asia. Flower lovers from around the Pacific Northwest come for the bloom show, organized by the Oregon Camellia Society. You can slip on running shoes for the 5K and 10K run/walk event, or soak in performances by artists such as Unit Souzou Taiko, Lee’s Lion and Dragon Dancers and the Oregon Koto Kai Ensemble. It all takes place at the Chehalem Cultural Center.
Florence Rhododendron Festival
One of the oldest festivals in the state, the Florence Rhododendron Festival (May) kicks off on Oregon’s Central Coast most appropriately with the crowning of Queen Rhododendra). The weekend continues in lavish celebration with a “Rhody Days” parade, car show, arts and crafts fair, a 5K run, carnival and of course lots of rhododendrons, as seen along the Coast.
Iris Bloom Season
In an ode to everyone’s favorite exotic flower, Iris Bloom Season (May) happens at the world-famous Schreiner’s Iris Gardens in Keizer. Here, 500 varieties of irises bloom on 10 acres — not just purple but white, red, blue, copper and even black. The celebration happens during the community-wide KeizerFEST; other events include a golf tournament, a series of runs (3K to certified marathon), food and beverage tastings, carnival, live music and a parade.
Lavender Daze Festival
The annual Hood River Lavender Daze Festival, held every July in Hood River, is a feast for the senses. Don’t miss the energetic live music, arts booths, barbecue and lavender-infused gelato, face painting, craft classes, a ladybug release party and wine tasting. All of this is steeped with the sweet smell of thousands of organic Oregon lavender plants available for U-cut. Be ready for friendly bees.
Annual Dahlia Festival
The Swan Island Dahlia Farm is one of the largest growers of Dahlias in the country. Get fresh-cut flowers daily from July through September or get your dahlia fix at the Annual Dahlia Festival (August-September) at their farm in Canby. The festival features nearly 40 acres of diverse dahlias, many of which were first cultivated here, as well as a full spectrum of 15,000 cut blooms set in 400 unique and inspiring floral arrangements. Live music, craft beer and food vendors and a balloon artist and face painting round out the family fun.