Get your sunglasses, wide-brim hat and water bottle ready, because as soon as the rain lets up, Portland, Oregon, suddenly bursts into activity with a great summer lineup of outdoor festivals that are worth planning a trip around. Whether you’re into music, food, beer or speeding down volcanoes in rickety hand-made vehicles, there’s an event for you.

A float moves down a street in Portland, depicting an otter on its back
Intricate, flower-covered floats are only one part of the popular Portland Rose Festival © Courtesy the Portland Rose Festival Foundation

June

Portland International Beerfest

One of the best of the city’s gazillion beer festivals, the International Beerfest takes over the Northwest Park Blocks in late June and brings in some seriously rare brews from around the globe. Entry is free; a glass and some beer tickets ($30-45) get you samples of heady concoctions like the Yo-Ho brewery’s Umami IPA from Japan, an apricot sour from the Czech Republic’s Wild Creatures, limited-edition ciders, and tons of Belgian and German beers, plus mystery beers from several breweries.

Pedalpalooza

A collection of events spread over three weeks in June, Pedalpalooza celebrates the city’s well-known love for bicycles. The most famous part of it, naturally, is the World Naked Bike Ride, but there are plenty of other events that aren’t clothing-optional, and most of them are free.

Portland Pride Festival

Keep Portland queer: this is one of the best parties in town, every year. Definitely go to the kick-off party; you can also watch or join the parade, race in a Glow Run, or just hang out, show support and enjoy the scene.

Portland Rose Festival

Many Portlanders dread this one, actually, but in the right spirit it’s a lot of fun. (Just don’t try to drive or park downtown when any of the parades are happening.) Rose-covered floats, dragon-boat races, a riverfront carnival, fireworks, roaming packs of sailors and the crowning of a Rose Queen all make this Portland's biggest celebration. The evening Starlight Parade and the Grand Floral Parade are the highlights.

Fireworks, and a red and purple sunset compete with the glow of lights in the city of Portland and on a nearby bridge
Fireworks explode over the Willamette River during the Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland © Erika Olsen / Waterfront Blues Festival

July

Waterfront Blues Fest

The largest blues festival west of the Mississippi, this longstanding favorite brings top blues acts and general partying to Waterfront Park; proceeds go to the Oregon Food Bank.

Oregon Brewers Festival

In the last full weekend in July you can quaff samples of around 80 microbrews from near and far in Waterfront Park. It can feel a bit like being in a beer zoo, but hey, at least there’s beer. There are also food stalls and other beer-focused vendors in the park.

PDX Pop Now!

This music and art festival combines shows on two stages with a street fair. It’s held underneath the Hawthorne Bridge. Each year’s festival is commemorated with a compilation CD. It’s free and all-ages, with food carts and a beer garden on site.

People push very sleek soapbox cars through a forested area on a road with lanes painted on it
Two soapbox competitors take off at the start of Portland's adult soapbox derby race © timnewman / Getty Images

August

Pickathon

Not strictly the bluegrass hangout it sounds like, this family-friendly music festival brings in a roster of bands of all kinds, from experimental and punk to singer-songwriters. It’s been going strong for 20 years, thanks to a focus on providing a fun, stress-free atmosphere. Camping is free with a weekend pass. Kids under 12 get in free with a parent. Bicycling to the festival is strongly encouraged.

Portland Adult Soapbox Derby

The idea of this race is simple, if not entirely advisable: you build a homemade, gravity-powered vehicle according to a strict set of rules and then swoosh down the side of an extinct volcano (Mt Tabor), hoping not to crash or disintegrate on the way. It’s great fun to watch. Vehicles can be shaped like anything from rocket ships to office cubicles to taco stands to actual cars, drivers are often in costume, and there’s beer everywhere.

MusicFest NW: Project Pabst

This two-day music festival at Portland’s Waterfront Park is known for a great lineup of artists, from big names like Iggy Pop, Beck and Lizzo to up and coming musicians. It’s wildly popular and sells out early, so plan ahead.

Portland BridgePedal

Most of Portland’s bridges close to car traffic for the day as thousands of Portlanders cycle over them on various routes from 5 to 18 miles. It’s a rare chance to see the city at a leisurely pace from some of its best vantage points.

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