Festivals and fanfare take over Tom McCall Waterfront Park
Please check open/closure status for each auditorium and performance venue directly on their site.
Waterside happenings enliven the Portland calendar throughout the year, ranging from the seasonal Saturday market to annual festivals that draw attendees from near and far. Much of the excitement takes place at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, located adjacent to the hotel on the west bank of the Willamette River. (The name of the park was changed in 1984 to honor former Oregon Governor Tom McCall.) The hotel’s proximity to this historical site is just one of the many reasons that help designate Kimpton RiverPlace one of the best places to stay in Portland, especially during the summer festival season.
Most popular Portland festivals and events:
Music + Arts Festivals
Listen to this: Four days of guitars, bass, harmonicas, trumpets, and hi-hats blaring the sounds of the blues from morning to night over the Fourth of July weekend. That’s what you’ll hear at this festival, which brings multiple stages to Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Over the years, those stages have featured legendary crooners such as John Lee Hooker, Paul deLay, Blind Boys of Alabama, and many others, and better yet, it's all for a great cause. Official Website
Tom McCall Waterfront Park is the backdrop for the LGBTQ community and friends to enjoy a festival of acceptance, celebration, and inspiration. At this weekend event, there are tons of vendors, food, and beverages. Downtown, you can’t miss the Portland Pride Parade a colorful affair with more than 100 festive groups marching. Official Website
For the annual multi-week Rose Festival, a Portland tradition since 1907, the Kimpton RiverPlace is a great home base. Nearby, catch the opening-night fireworks spectacular, the City Fair, the Grand Floral Float Showcase, and the Dragon Boat Race, an event that has brought an exciting Chinese tradition to Portland for more than a quarter century. Official Website
Celebrate good storytelling at the
Portland Film Festival,
organized by filmmakers for filmmakers. There’s plenty for the public, too, both on the entertainment and education fronts. A mix of outdoor screenings and films shown inside some of the oldest historic theaters in Oregon make this much more than just your typical movie night.
Located on Pendarvis Farm in nearby Happy Valley, Oregon, Pickathon is what Willamette Week calls “Portland’s biggest little music festival.” It’s evolved hugely since its start in 1999, growing from a tiny folk and roots show to a major event that attracts eclectic artists like Jeff Tweedy, Thee Oh Sees, and Feist. Official Website
Every February, the Portland Jazz Festival gets the city’s toe tapping with upward of 100 performances over the course of 11 days. Internationally recognized icons play alongside local musicians in this celebration of Black History Month, which also involves outreach programs into the city’s neighborhoods and schools. Past performers include the Sonny Fortune Quarter, pianist Aaron Goldberg, rock-influenced ensemble Moongriffin, and harpist Brandee Younger. Official Website
Free and open to the public, the Portland Winter Light Festival is an outdoor celebration along the Willamette River’s Eastbank Esplanade. Over four days, light-based art installations, engaging performances, and interactive activities for both kids and adults bring people together outside during a time of the year when many retreat indoors. Official Website
This ever-evolving music festival has teamed up with Project Pabst to create an epic summer event that deftly combines popular acts with up-and-coming musicians. The last installment completely sold out before the gates opened at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, so make sure you snag your tickets early if you want to join in the revelry. Official Website
Food + Brew Festivals
Under a large clear-top tent in downtown’s Pioneer Courthouse Square, cozy up with gas heaters and your fellow beer enthusiasts as you taste the flavors of the season. The options include more than 50 winter ales created just for the festival — all sure to get you in the holiday spirit. Official Website