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The Ultimate Guide to the Portland Rose Festival

The Ultimate Guide to the Portland Rose Festival 

Aside from weirdness, our city is also known for its big celebrations, melting-pot culture, and roses. That’s why the Portland Rose Festival is one of the events you absolutely have to experience if you’re new here. 

The festival is like a celebration of just about everything that makes Rip City a fun place to live. You get a little bit of everything at it! 

Want to learn more? Well, hold on to your hats because we’re about to take you on a wild ride through the festival!

What is the Portland Rose Festival?

The Portland Rose Festival is a recurring event in Portland that celebrates the city’s title as The City of Roses. This annual civic celebration is arranged by a non-profit association dedicated specifically to it, with the goal being to promote Portland as a whole. 

The main draws of the festival are the parades – and there are three different parades to look out for. This is where people will get to see our city’s artistry and sense of community and camaraderie. 


After all, it takes plenty of people to build just one float! We guess you could say that the festival brings us Portlanders together too and lets us show off our creativity to both fellow locals and tourists.

There are many other events held during the festival, of course. We’ll go over our favourites later.

What is the history of the Portland Rose Festival?

What is the history of the Portland Rose Festival
Image from Oregon History Project

The Portland Rose Festival’s history began in 1907, which is when the first such festival was held. 

It actually comes from rose shows held by the Portland Rose Society. These shows kept getting bigger, adding more and more events each year, until they became the annual festival and parade we know today. 

Given that the original goal of the shows was to celebrate the rose that symbolizes this city, you can see why we Portlanders hold this event close to our hearts. This city wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for this festival. 

Despite the many years we’ve been holding the festival, it was only in 2010 that the city recognized this event as Portland’s official festival. That’s probably the bit of trivia that astonishes people most!

When is the Portland Rose Festival? 

The Portland Rose Festival usually starts in Late May and ends in the middle of June every year. As of writing, the next date of the festival is on May 26 to June 11, making it almost a month long. 

Meanwhile, the Grand Floral Parade is on June 10 at 10 AM to 12 PM. This is typically the event most people look forward to, so mark your calendars!

What is the Grand Floral Parade?

The Grand Floral Parade is one of the highlights of the Portland Rose Festival. 

With huge floral floats, unique mini floats, marching groups, vintage vehicles, llamas, and more, this event attracts numerous locals and visitors each year. 

If you attend any part of the festival, we say this is the one you won’t want to miss! It probably has the most spectacles of all the events involved. 

How do I watch the Grand Floral Parade? 

There are three ways to watch the Grand Floral Parade: from the streets, from indoor seats at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, and from the comfort of home through the live broadcast. 

  • Of course, there’s nothing like watching parades from the streets. After all, it’s how we locals usually do it. It does mean standing outside for a long time, sure, but it’s hard to beat the crowd’s excitement! If you want to know where to stand, the parade begins at the Memorial Coliseum. It will then make its way through MLK Jr. Blvd. before it turns left on Lloyd Blvd, ending at Multnomah. 
  • There’s an obvious convenience to watching the seats from reserved indoor seats at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Not only will you be comfortable in your seat but you also won’t have to worry about the weather! Furthermore, there are restroom facilities inside. If you don’t mind paying in exchange for the convenience, this is certainly something we recommend. All you need to do is buy tickets for the Grand Floral Parade (we’ll show you how later). 
  • For home buddies, no one will be able to beat watching it from home. Through Fox 12 Oregon, you will be able to witness the event live. 9:30 AM is when they will show the Grand Floral Parade preview, whereas 10 AM is when it will actually start. It will run for 2 hours. 
Bonus tip: You may also view the floats more closely after the parade! You can drop by around SW Naito Parkway downtown the Saturday and Sunday afternoon after the parade for this – the people will let you check them out from up-close and you won’t have to pay a thing.

How do I get tickets for the Grand Floral Parade?

You can get tickets for the Grand Floral Parade by going to the event’s official website and purchasing them there. 

How much are the tickets for the Grand Floral Parade?

The tickets for the Grand Floral Parade cost around $15 to $30 plus handling fee. The $15 seats are at the very back, while $30 guarantees you a seat on the first few rows.

Personally, we think spending the extra $15 is worth it for the front-row seats. You can also get discounts if you have a group of 10 or more people – just fill up their group order form. 

What are the best seats to get for the Grand Floral Parade? 

What are the best seats to get for the Grand Floral Parade
Image from The City of Portland Oregon

The best seats to get for the Grand Floral Parade are dependent on what you want to see. 

If you want to see the front of the parade, get seats on the North end. If you want to see the parade from the side, get seats from the East and the West. 

Finally, if you want to watch the back of the parade, you should go for the South end seats.

Image from Chatterbox

To be exact, the North end seats are from Sections 18-23, 74-82, and 113-166, whereas the East and the West are Sections 1-3, 12-17, 24-26, 51-53, 67-73, and 83-86. 

Meanwhile, the South end seats are sections 4-11 and 54-66. 

Can you volunteer for the Portland Rose Festival?

Yes, you can volunteer for the Portland Rose Festival by filling up their volunteer form on their website. You just need to input a few things about you so they have an idea where you can best help. 

While this is an unpaid gig (obviously, since you’re volunteering), you will still be able to receive fun perks for helping out. 

This includes tickets to CityFair, reserved seats at the Grand Floral Parade, and t-shirts (for those will assist with cleaning up). 

Additionally, you will also receive community service hours. 

You can volunteer with a company or on your own – chances are, you will meet cool new people here who share the same interests. 

What are available volunteer opportunities at the Portland Rose Festival?

There are three volunteer opportunities at the Portland Rose Festival as of writing: Float Decorator, Mini Float Decorator, and Cleaning Team. 

  • They particularly need a Float Decorator on June 3 to 9 – someone that can also do multiple shifts. Anyone above 14 years can participate. However, those under 18 should be with a parent or guardian. They only need you a week before the parade because construction is scheduled to be done by that time. 
  • If you want to help out for a long period of time, you already have the first qualification to be a Mini Float Decorator. This is because they would ask you to participate on Fridays and Saturdays from May 9 to June 9. You also have to be available on one Thursday, which is June 8. You will be asked to decorate 13 mini floats by using materials like paint, glue, and such. Florist skills would be a plus, but since training will be provided, it won’t be necessary. 
  • The Cleaning Team will be asked to help on June 3 at 6:30 PM to 10:30 PM. Before the parade starts, you will distribute bags to viewers of the parade to help maintain cleanliness. 

What kinds of programs will there be at the Portland Rose Festival?

Since the Portland Rose Festival is a month-long event in the city, you can expect that there will be a lot of programs to look out for. 

The Portland Rose Festival Association says that these programs reflect the passion and diversity of Portland – and we agree with them on that. There’s also something for everyone!

As another plus, members will also have a head-to-toe free travel wardrobe!

1. Clown Prince & Rose Festival Clowns

The Portland Rose Festival would be incomplete without its clowns. They paint the town with their colorful costumes and makeup and bring joy to thousands of attendees. 

Anyone can volunteer to be part of the rose festival clowns, but unfortunately, the applications have already closed as of writing. However, there’s always next year!

The good thing about this is you will be able to practice your clown skills and techniques for the next round. So, don’t forget to be on the lookout for the next application round.

Oh, and here’s a nice perk for being one of the clowns: you get the chance to work with the Clown Prince, Angel Ocasio, who is said to be one of the most talented clowns in the region.

2. Parade Float Building

As we mentioned, you can volunteer to make a parade float if you’re interested. 

At the Portland Rose Festival, there are several iconic float designs that have displayed themselves all over the city throughout the years. This includes floral-filled and animal-themed floats. 

This is easily one of the best things to do at the festival if you want to contribute in a meaningful way. Your work actually becomes one of the highlights of the parade!

3. Treasure Hunt

We think that treasure hunting is one of the most fun programs at the Portland Rose Festival. If you’re up for the challenge, we’re sure you’re going to enjoy it too. 

There are no details yet about the Treasure Hunt for 2023 as of writing, but to give you an idea, here’s what it was like last year. 

In 2022, people were tasked to find a small block of Lucite. It was embedded in a special Rose Festival Medallion. Clues were posted daily on their website at 10 AM, so we were all glued to our smartphones at that time for days on end! 

We have a feeling it will be like that this year too. And the prizes are usually good. Last year’s winner was awarded $500, a single hotel room for two at Spirit Mountain Casino for a night, and dinner for two at Spirit Mountain Casino.  

This year’s prizes might look different, but we think they would be just as sweet! 

5. Marching Bands 

The marching band ties everything together in the Portland Rose Festival Parade. Without them showcasing their musical skills, the parade wouldn’t be as lively, don’t you think?

The applications to join them are closed as of writing because they close earlier for bands. However, they are still accepting applications for marching bands outside of town to participate in several other events including the parade. 

You just have to fill out the form on the festival’s official website. 

6. Cleanest & Greenest

To maintain the cleanliness in the city of Portland, the festival also has its own program for cleanup. It’s possible because of the collaborative effort from volunteers and several partners. 

Once again, you may go to the festival’s official website to fill up the form. 

What events are there during the Portland Rose Festival? 

There are a lot of events during the Portland Rose Festival. We picked the top 3 events that we’re most excited for. However if you’d like to see the full line up, you can refer to the official event calendar. 

1. Rose Festival CityFair

If you’re not feeling the festivities yet during the month of the Portland Rose Festival, it’s best to head to the CityFair. That will really get the festive juices flowing, we promise you!

Happening for 3 consecutive weekends starting on the 26th of May, this will take place at the Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park, which is located in downtown Portland. 

At the city fair, not only will you be able to enjoy the carnival rides, you will also get the chance to indulge in fair food and interactive exhibits. There’s a lot to explore, so just go and walk the place to discover them all!

2. Rose High Tea 

Rose High Tea

Rose High Tea is an annual fundraiser event. Their goal is to be able to raise funds for their programs and awards that help women. 

Most of these women are survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, or sex trafficking. Additionally, a lot of them have gone through difficulties like substance abuse and poverty. 


We think this is one of the recurring events under the Portland Rose Festival that makes an impact in improving the lives of people. 

If you want to help, this event will be on the 4th of June, 3 PM to 5 PM at Colwood Golf Center. You may refer to the directions from Google Maps

A ticket costs $85. We think it’s a small price for the life you will be able to change. 

If you’re someone who is keen on helping out local charities, we suggest you check this out. And if you want to help but you’re not available on the said date, you can become a sponsor by checking their auction website. 

3. Dragon Boat Race

The Dragon Boat Race brings a lot of heat and excitement to the Portland Rose Festival. 

This event is from June 10 to 11 at 8 AM to 5 PM. There are more than 60 teams for this event, so you can expect 4 teams to race every nine minutes. 

The goal is to be able to grab the flag first for several rounds over the course of 2 days. 

You can register as a volunteer or as a member by going to their website. However, if you just want to watch, just head to the Tom McCall Waterfront Park on the said date. Admission is free!

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