Carnival rides, day-glo floats and kids on bikes spread outward from the waterfront throughout the metro area this time of year for more than a month filled with activities. This year’s “Bloomin’ Good Time” Rose Festival kicks off on May 22 and runs until July 10th. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the extensive event calendar, keep the following highlights in mind for the littlest ones in your brood with the shortest attention spans and wacky nap schedules.

Ferris Wheel - Jeff Muceusphoto: Jeff Muceus via Flickr creative commons

CityFair
The fun begins Memorial Day weekend, as CityFair transforms the Portland waterfront into a wonderland of live music performances, local food and drink vendors, and carnival rides for children and adults alike. The youngest CityFair attendees will love the Kiddie Land rides designed especially for them, while children of all ages will be thrilled by the exotic live animal exhibits, which feature tigers, lions, snakes, and spiders, and help to fund an animal sanctuary and rescue program.

CityFair
May 22, 5-11 p.m.; May 23-25, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; May 28-29, 3-11 p.m.; May 30-31, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; June 3-5, 3-11 p.m.; June 6-7, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park
Gate admission: $7/ages 7 & up, or $5 in advance; free for children 6 & under, veterans, reservists, and active duty military.
Online: rosefestival.org/event/city-fair

Insider Tip: If you’re planning to attend CityFair more than once, pick up a $10 Rose Festival Souvenir Pin at Fred Meyer, which grants you free admission at the gate. But in addition to the entry fee, remember that ride tickets are required for both games and carnival rides. So if your kids are planning to make this a full-day excursion, consider nabbing $35 unlimited ride wristbands online or at Walgreens now through May 21. See the full list of advance ticket discounts here.

Starlight Parade

photo: Jeff Muceus via Flickr creative commons

Starlight Parade
The little ones may already be in bed, but older children will be thrilled by the glow-in-the-dark fun at the Starlight Parade. From bands to floats to hand-crafted light shows, this year’s event is expected to draw nearly 100 artfully-illuminated entries, as well as thousands of spectators along the 2.25-mile parade route. Best of all? The 2015 grand marshal is none other than “PeeDee”—the PDX carpet.

Starlight Parade
May 30, 8:30-11 p.m.
Downtown Portland (see the full route map here)
Admission: Free
Online: rosefestival.org/event/starlight-parade

Kids Parade

Photo credit: Christmas w/a K via Flickr creative commons

Junior Parade
Ever since the first Rose Festival in 1907 included a children’s parade of 2,000 boys and girls, Portland’s youngest residents have played an integral role in this annual event. This year’s parade through the Hollywood District will feature dance and drill teams, baton groups, homemade floats, marching bands, and kids in costume, on bikes, and in decorated wagons. Not content to watch from the sidelines? The Junior Parade is open to all children middle school-aged or younger, as well as their adult chaperones. Find complete registration information here.

Junior Parade
June 3, 1-2 p.m.
Hollywood District (see the full route map here)
Admission: Free
Online: rosefestival.org/event/junior-parade

Grand Floral Walk
Before you fill up on corn dogs and cotton candy for the day, bring the entire family along for the 4.2-mile walk through downtown Portland. As your kids get a good dose of exercise, the throngs of spectators and rolling television cameras will make them feel like superstars—even if they’re actually in place for the Grand Floral Parade that follows. Find complete registration information for the Grand Floral Walk here.

Grand Floral Walk
June 6, 9:30-11 a.m.
Veterans Memorial Coliseum to Downtown Portland (see the full route map here)
Admission: $20/adults; $10/children ages 7-12; free for children 6 & under
Online: rosefestival.org/event/grand-floral-walk

Rose Parade - Sam Churchill

Photo credit: Sam Churchill via Flickr creative commons

Grand Floral Parade
This parade has been the centerpiece of the Rose Festival for more than a century, and it’s easy to understand why. This year’s parade will feature 14 floats made entirely of flowers, 17 marching bands, 19 equestrian units, as well as vintage cars and dancing troupes. And don’t forget to be on the lookout for the Clown Prince and his Character Clown Corps, who add an extra dose of fun to an already festive afternoon.

Grand Floral Parade
June 6, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Veterans Memorial Coliseum to Downtown Portland (see the full route map here)
Admission: Free for unreserved spectator seats
Online: rosefestival.org/event/grand-floral-parade

Milk Carton Boat Race
Do you have a budding engineer in the family? If so, see if they’re up to the challenge of constructing a boat entirely out of recycled milk cartons and plastic jugs. Contestants can choose to enter in one of seven classes—from artistry to velocity—in pursuit of the Best in Show milk can trophy, while spectators will be treated to one of the most whimsical and entertaining spectacles of the Rose Festival. Find complete registration information and entry rules here.

Milk Carton Boat Race
June 7, 11 a.m.
Westmoreland Park Casting Pond
SE McLoughlin Blvd. & Bybee Blvd.
Admission: Free
Online: dairyfarmersor.com/103-milk-carton-boat-race

What are your plans for the Rose Festival? Let us know in the comments below!

— Maura O’Brien