We’re looking forward to the time when we can take full advantage of all the family-friendly events Portland has to offer! Here’s a month-by-month reminder of some awesome events we’ve enjoyed in the past. Please check closer to the date of the event so see whether it is on for 2021 or plans to resume in 2022.
Mochitsuki Portland’s celebration of Japanese and Japanese-American culture is a winter bright spot. From origami classes to mochi-making to flower-arranging workshops, the Mochitsuki Festival’s schedule of events brims with hands-on activities for kids of all ages. Typically the end of January.
Worst Day of the Year Ride Grab your helmet and your Muddy Buddy, and hit the roads! Kids under 12 ride for free, and there’s no better way to pass the dreary February days than dreaming up a winner for the weather-themed costume contest.
Chinese New Year Events at Lan Su Garden The Lan Su Garden is the place to ring in the Lunar New Year! Downtown’s peaceful Chinese garden hosts a two-week festival of fun that includes a slew of family-friendly events from lion dances to scavenger hunts. Gong xi fa cai! Typically held the two weeks surrounding the Lunar New Year.
Portland Winter Light Festival Bringing light to dark winter nights, this unique, illuminated nighttime event managed to adapt to COVID by sprinkling installations throughout neighborhoods. If lighting up our dark winters wasn’t enough, the Willamette Light Brigade, a nonprofit arts organization who puts on the festival, doesn’t charge admission. Typically the first two weekends in February.
Portland St. Patrick’s Day Parade A 30-year tradition, this homespun parade welcomes spring with marching bands, classic cars and costumes galore. It’s a low-key parade that still features plenty of fun. Typically the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day.
Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival Drive just 30 minutes down I-5 and you’ll be awash in 40 colorful acres of tulips and more than 100 acres of farmland — a bucolic setting for an Instagram-worthy day of fresh air and flowers. Don’t miss the kids’ area, which features cow train rides through the flower fields, rubber duck races and pony rides. If you’re lucky and the weather is just right, you might even catch another colorful display — hot air balloons fly frequently over the fields. Early March to early May.
Oregon Zoo Rabbit Romp Aimed at the 10-and-under crowd, this Easter tradition is much-beloved for good reason. Head to the zoo for candy hunting, contests, animal meet-and-greets and photos with the Easter bunny. Typically the weekend before Easter.
Dozer Day Hosted by The Nutter Foundation, Dozer Day in Vancouver, Washington, is just about every toddler’s dream come true — and that’s the whole idea. Kids get to experience life at an active construction site, and sit (safely) in the driver seat of some of their favorite earth-moving vehicles. Typically on a weekend in the middle of the month.
Sunday Parkways Begins For five Sundays — one per month from May to September — the city closes off a set of bike-friendly streets to allow cyclists a chance to cruise through town without worrying about cars. Routes end in public parks, where a few food and drink vendors are usually available to help you refuel and refresh before hopping back on your bike.
The Rose Festival For more than 100 years, the Rose Festival has heralded the arrival of summer. Whether your kids are participating in the Fred Meyer Junior Parade, hope to catch a glimpse of the Rose Queen at the Grand Floral Parade, or just want to spend a few hours on the ferris wheel at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, there’s no shortage of fun to be had. Typically featuring events throughout the month of June. The Grand Floral Parade is always the second Saturday after Memorial Day, and will return in all of its glory in 2022. In the meantime, check out the Porch Parade!
The Big Float A brainchild of Portland’s Human Access Project, which is devoted to encouraging locals to connect more deeply with the Willamette River, the Big Float is irresistible. Grab your SPF and favorite inner tubes, and join the flotilla! Put in at Poet’s Beach under the Marquam Bridge, and float along with the flow of the river. The fun continues with live music and food carts at a beachy after-party at Tom McCall Bowl Beach. Postponed until 2022.
Waterfront Blues Festival Kids under 12 enjoy this massive outdoor music festival for free, and if they’re not ready to tune into the main-stage headliners quite yet, not to worry! The designated kids’ area is a sure bet for a host of family-friendly activities, crafts and more. This year, a distanced, timed-entry event is planned for Friday to Monday, July 2-5.
Providence Bridge Pedal and Stride One of the largest community bike rides in the world, the Bridge Pedal marks an annual opportunity to see the city in a new and unique way! With many of the city’s Willamette River bridges closed to car traffic, cyclists and walkers (or strollers) alike can take their time as they take in the views. August 8, 2021.
Oktoberfest Oktoberfest might not seem like a kid-friendly event, but before nightfall, many local celebrations welcome families. And most kids will happily munch on a Bavarian pretzel or apple strudel while taking in the music and entertainment. Look for celebrations at Oaks Amusement Park, McMenamins Edgefield and farther afield in Mt. Angel, a town that goes all out for Oktoberfest. Typically in late September.
Sellwood Monster March Leaving from Llewellyn Elementary School, this parade of costumed kids and families is a Southeast Portland tradition. Local businesses pass out candy to marchers, so be sure to bring buckets! Sunday before Halloween, 3 pm start time.
Squishing of the Squash and Howloween at the Oregon Zoo Two weekends of seasonal fun include things like a scavenger hunt that directs trick-or-treaters to activity stations throughout the zoo where kids get to pick out candy and earn prizes, all while learning about wildlife. Typically held the two weekends before Halloween.
Tofurky Trot Does it get much more Portlandia than a Tofurky Trot? Hosted by Northwest VEG, this low-key 5K takes place on Thanksgiving morning at Oaks Park and encourages people of all ages and abilities to join in the costumed good times.
Columbia Gorge Model Railroad Show If your kids aren’t train fanatics yet, a few minutes at this incredible model railroad show will make converts out of them. Intricate displays showcase the work of this legendary local organization. Typically four weekends in November.
ZooLights Enjoy the zoo by night, all dressed up for the holidays! Ride the zoo train to see animatronic light displays, and end the night with a warming cup of cocoa. (We hope they make it a drive-through event again in 2021!) Open throughout the month of December.
Winter Wonderland at Portland International Raceway This drive-through light show is a holiday season must. It’s
the largest of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, and kids will delight in the over-the-top displays. Open throughout the month of December.
Oregon Rail Heritage Museum’s Holiday Express Historic steam trains, all decked out for Christmas, take travelers on a festive 45-minute ride, complete with cocoa, cookies and Santa Claus. Dates throughout the month of December.
Christmas Ships A completely volunteer effort, the Christmas Ships is a monthlong series of flotillas of decorated boats. The parades of decorated ships follow different routes throughout December, so it’s easy to find one that works for you. Dates throughout December.