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Explore the colorful blooms of the Portland Rose Festival

The Portland Rose Festival is more than a century old and is a beloved Oregon tradition. It's centered around the historic Grand Floral Parade, which is not just one of the oldest - it's also the second largest flower parade in the country as well as the state's most popular event (some 500,000 people come to the northwestern locale every year to watch the colorful floral displays make their way along the parade route). The fest typically begins in late May or early June and runs for up to three weeks. Book your Oregon car rental and get ready to take part in the exciting festivities of the Portland Rose Festival.

History of the Portland Rose Festival

This event was established in 1907 as a way to showcase the lush flora of the area. Roses have been a big deal in Portland since well before the festival. The region received its first rose bush in 1837 as a gift to the Anna Maria Pittman to congratulate her on her marriage to renowned missionary Jason Lee. Cuttings from Pittman's bush were planted on the grounds of Willamette University, at Champoeg Park and in pioneer gardens scattered about the area.

The first installment of the fest wowed the crowds with its elaborate and stunning floats that were transported on the city's trolley system. Since then, it has continued to grow into a massive spectacle, attracting more people each year and featuring a host of new features, such as fireworks displays and open-air markets, since it's more than 100 years of development.

About the parade

The Grand Floral Parade is the signature event of the festival. The route begins at the Memorial Coliseum and twists and turns through Portland's downtown streets for 4.3 miles before reaching the end at Multnomah Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard. You'll see nearly 20 all-floral floats, and just as many marching bands. There are also horses that clomp their way down the street, vintage vehicles energetic dancers and a crowned prince and princess (new royalty is chosen every year and awarded with a scholarship and a spot on the parade line). Keep in mind that many of the city's streets are closed off to cars during this time, so you may have to leave your Portland car rental behind and get around by foot or shuttle service.

Other festival features

Since its inception in the early 20th century, the parade has expanded to include a massive celebration that takes place over multiple weeks. Visitors can use their Portland Rose Festival rental cars to get around to the intriguing activities, such as the Bite of Oregon, which takes place downtown and lets you sample the flavors of area wineries, breweries and restaurants. You can also sit down for a warm meal at Feat Portland, a dinner party that raises money to end childhood hunger throughout the state.

Another major part of the festival is the Art in the Pearl. It takes place over Labor Day weekend and displays the creations of local artists on the streets of the city's Pearl District. There's also delicious food and drink offered by regional vendors, juried artwork showcases, interactive art activities and live musical entertainment. In addition to these features, the festival month includes events at many of the city's gardens, arboretums, parks and other green spaces, such as the International Rose Test Garden and Lan Su Chinese Garden. Additionally, a week prior to the Grand Floral Parade, the streets of downtown are taken over by the popular Starlight Parade, which gives you a look at illuminated floats.

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