Known as the City of Roses, Portland has been annually celebrating its moniker for more than 100 years. Local publisher's wife Mrs. Henry Pittock and her friends held the first Portland Rose Festival in 1889, in the Pittock home's own garden. Fast-forward 120 years and this small gathering dedicated to the city's signature perennial has expanded into an annual month-long event, its centerpiece the massive rose garden that fills the entire Lloyd Center Ice Rink. Gardeners whisper sweet nothings to displays featuring more than 4,000 varieties of blooms, with a focus on that year's Official Rose and its fellow honorees.
The rose show isn't the Festival's only draw. Throughout its run, various public events take place downtown on both sides of?and in?the Willamette River. During the Dragon Boat Race, more than 80 local and international rowing teams pilot festive boats against each other in a heated dash down the river. About halfway through the festival, crowds gather in Veterans Memorial Coliseum for the start of the Grand Floral Parade. Following a different theme each year, this event gathers vibrant floats bedecked in floral displays and accompanied by dance ensembles, live a capella groups, and traditional marching bands. During the parade's launch, organizers crown that year's queen and unite her with the Festival's fun-loving mascot, the Clown Prince. The Grand Floral Walk gathers volunteer revelers to follow the same route as the downtown parade, and benefits the Knight Cancer Challenge.
The light of a projector first hit the Hollywood Theatre's screen in 1926. Since then, this cinema has changed with the times—at various points serving as a Cinerama and a second-run discount movie house. After a near-closure and a nearly 15-year renovation, the building re-emerged as a non-profit, independent cinema. Today, Hollywood Theatre screens about 300 films a year, ranging from classic Hollywood and genre films to newer independent movies and quirky blockbusters.
The core of the theatre's programming, however, is its signature series. Programs such as Kung Fu Theater and Sound + Vision aim to restore classic films' spectacle to the silver screen. Outside the auditorium, Hollywood Theatre hosts educational workshops on topics such as animation, documentary filmmaking, and chiseling your own star onto the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the cinema's Spanish Colonial Revival building retains much of its historic charm. At the top of a curving staircase lies a lounge with plush antique furnishings and signage. Inside the main auditorium—the house's original orchestra level—films blaze to life on a 50-foot screen and a digital surround-sound system. On the theater's original balcony level, two smaller venues with just more than 110 seats provide a more intimate viewing experience.
After several years of suffering through classes filled with tweens, or missing sessions because of rigid scheduling, Evie Graham started her own dance studio. At Vega Dance Lab, everyone from people who have never strapped on groove shoes to seasoned students aged 16 and older can school their left feet or untalented dancing bears in nine dances on a drop-in basis. Shuffle-savvy instructors school pupils in proper ballet technique, burlesque-inspired choreography, and hip-hop cabaret, where dancers perform hip-hop moves with a cabaret-inspired flair.
Teachers also integrate dance into intensive workouts such as Cardio Funk, an exercise regimen set to hip-hop music, or Tease & Tone, a session divided between 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of dance. Lessons kick off six days a week in Vega Dance Lab?s spacious, graffiti-decorated warehouse where students can test their latest moves by dancing out of the way of oncoming forklifts.
Four Horsemen Haunted Attractions spooks its guests twice over with two connected haunted houses spanning more than 18,000 square feet. The gut-wrenching walkthroughs kick off with Primus, where scientists have uncovered strange organisms that showcase advances in science and medicine. But what they uncovered is not at benign as it seemed, causing horrific mutations of the most ancient kind. Four Horsemen's actors elicit screams through dialogue and shocking reveals, elevating the genre beyond cheap-and-dirty scare tactics that usually include dressing up like each guest’s high-school gym teacher. In the connected Hellhouse, guests follow in the footsteps of a film crew hoping to find the mysterious place where a band of serial killers kept their victims. Scripted live-action sequences and seamlessly integrated video back up roving monsters, creating a uniquely immersive haunted experience.
Nestled beneath the luminous beacon of its old-timey marquee, the Clinton Street Theater cements its status as Portland?s oldest continuously running independent film house with a rotating slate of foreign films, documentaries, and cult classics. Weekly screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Repo: The Genetic Opera draw fervent cultists dressed as their favorite characters and boom-mic operators, complementing screenings of splattery horror flicks with thought-provoking opera from rising and renowned auteurs. The cylindrical glow from a whirring projector jets across the Clinton?s spacious theater, illumining arrivals from such directors as Sidney Lumet and Gus Van Sant, who is notorious for instructing his actors to break character midfilm to challenge texting film-goers to bare-knuckle brawls.