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Portland Rose Festival: Stop And Smell The Roses

Here at Motor Coach West, we love Oregon and you know what they say: the biggest Oregon is your heart.

We love it so much that we decided to partner with one of their biggest festivals The Portland Rose Fest.

This festival brings thousands of people every year, and we plan to be there to make your transportation a whole heck of a lot easier so that you and your crew can get there without any speed bumps (the metaphorical kind at least) along the way. 

What is the Portland Rose Festival?

If you didn’t grow up in Oregon, you may not have heard about the Rose Festival so we’ll give you the rundown.

In 1888, the Portland Rose Society was founded by Georgiana Pittock; this began with a rose show that was held in Pittocks garden. The festival grew, along with everyone’s love of roses.

In 1904, the Rose Festival had blown up so big that they began not only an annual rose show, but added festivities, parades, and pageants in the mix.

In 1905, this little show grew so big that the mayor got involved. Harry Lane contested and I quote, that they needed “a festival of roses”, this pivotal quote brought about the first Portland Rose Festival and Flower parade a year later.

Then, in 1907, the first Portland Rose Festival began. What’s at the center of this festival is the grand floral parade, which is the second-largest all-floral parade in the United States.

A view of the Portland Oregon welcome sign during sunset.

Some of our favorite Festival Events to Choose From

 Treasure Hunt

This activity is for those of us who love to find the little things that go missing; have you ever wondered where that matching sock went? What happened to your chapstick? Where that medallion is hiding, in this case? You’ve guessed it, this is a hunt for a very special medallion.

This hunt has been a staple in the Portland Rose Festival since 1983.

Throughout the festival, daily clues on geography or local history are given until someone finds the treasure.

It’s your job to Indiana Jones it and figure out where the treasure is hidden!

Join in on the fun and play pirate for a day.

 CareOregon Starlight Parade

It’s vibrant, it’s neon lit, it brings the community together, and it’s the CareOregon Starlight Parade!

This parade will leave you breathless with its beautiful flashing sights.

Spend the evening admiring the lit-up floats and even dance a little to the marching bands.

This festival has been around since the early 1900s and started with well-lit electric trolly cars.

The parade has a bit of an eccentric past being a previous parade that included ice and rock-filled balloons, but has since changed to the wholesome parade people know today.

The previous parade was called Merrykhana Parade and was terminated in 1972.

Speaking of termination, Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the first participants in the reopening of the parade. 

Check it out and enjoy all 100 of the illuminated floats!

Dragon Boat Racing during Rose Festival in Portland, Oregon

Milk Carton Boat Race

I know what you’re thinking, a Milk Carton Boat Race? Yes, you heard us right.

This event is made up of recycled milk-cartons-turned boats, and as the name states, people race these bad boys.

The event started in 1973 to promote The Oregon Dairy Farmers Association.

 The original competition included over $450 in cash prizes and took place in a casting pond.

Sadly, in 2002 the pond that held hundreds of milk carton captains was drained, not to worry though, it was brought back a few years later in 2009.

This time around, they weren’t expecting it to be very big, but to the organizers’ surprise, 60 boats and 2000 people showed up to enjoy the show in all its glory.

Today, people of all ages come together to build the world’s finest recycled milk carton boats as hundreds watch them duke it out in the water for who’s fastest.

Check out and see who’s the greatest captain of all the milk cartons.


When you think of festivals, the first thing that typically comes to mind is carnival rides of course!

Thankfully, this festival comes equipped with one, and it’s located midway in Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

In this magical land of fun, you can expect rides, food, and interactive exhibits along with a heaping amount of entertainment.

Fun fact: Kids under seven-years old don’t require a ticket!

Bring your family to enjoy the convivial activities of CityFair!

 a view of Portland Oregon, with Mount Hood in the background

Rose City Sing- Off

If you’ve seen Pitch Perfect, you may already know the joy that a group of talented singers can bring to not only the musicians, but the audience as well.

This sing-off brings the area’s most talented cappella groups to one location, where they compete in front of judges, friends, and family.

Not only is this competition fun to attend, but the contestants get master classes from the University of Oregon’s Mind The Gap.

What’s more, on top of all these wonderful things, the contestants also get to network with other schools.

Enjoy a scene straight out of a movie, or similar at least, but mostly just the singing, your ears will thank you.

The Rose High Tea

This isn’t just your ordinary high tea, this event is all about charity too!

For 25 years this auction and fundraising high tea has raised funds to support quite a few programs.

the Live Your Dream Award is the Rose High Tea’s primary award, this award, among the others mostly goes to helping domestic violence survivors, sex trafficking, or sexual assault.

The event serves tea of course, but this also comes with a brief explanation of its history.

Although tea is the main focus here, there are other items to get excited about like mimosas, champagne, and cocktails.

Lastly, what would a tea party be without its scones, jam, and tiny sandwiches? Those will be provided as well.

Wear your Sunday best and play out the tea party you’ve always wanted.

There you have it, a list of wonderful happenings within the Rose Festival.  

This festival lasts from late May to mid-June and has more to choose from so don’t forget to check out their website.

Spend a few days enjoying the festival that brings the community together.

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