This is why Portland is nicknamed ‘Rose City.’

By Sarah Z. Wexler
June 01, 2015
Portland Rose Festival
Credit: Dickie Adams

This week, the annual Rose Festival—a beloved tradition for more than 100 years—returns with plenty of ways to honor the emblem. Check out this year’s highlights, running across town for three weeks in June:

Grand Floral Parade. On June 6, hundreds of thousands of people will line the 4.2-mile path that flanks the route for the Grand Floral Parade, the centerpiece of the festival. The parade includes 14 all-floral floats, 17 marching bands, and perhaps as importantly, a group of therapy camelids—look for Rojo, a local celebrity llama, and Napoleon, a white alpaca with a predilection for wearing tiny hats.

Milk Carton Boat Race. Kids and adults alike race in handmade boats that must be human-powered and float only on recycled milk cartons and jugs. This feat of crafting and recycling takes place on June 7 at the Westmoreland Casting Pond in the southeast neighborhood of Sellwood.

Dragon Boat Races. This Chinese tradition has flourished in the city. On June 6 and 7, some 80 teams in beautifully embellished boats will compete in four-team heats held every nine minutes on the Willamette River near the Hawthorne bridge.

Donuts for a cause. Blue Star Donuts is unveiling a new Rose flavor for the festival, a brioche base with a tart, citrusy rosé wine glaze. Available until June 14, proceeds benefit the Dougy Center, which supports children who've lost a loved one. Meanwhile, Voo Doo Doughnuts will offer a crown-shaped donut, the Pink Princess Power, to honor the Rose Festival Court until June 30; a portion of those proceeds will benefit the Rose Festival Foundation.

Thousands of actual roses. The Annual Spring Rose Show is the largest and longest-running one of its kind in the nation, with more than 4,000 blooms. Stop and smell them at Lloyd Center, June 4 and 5.