June is the month of Rose Festivals. In this, the first of our articles about these great events, we feature the Portland Rose Festival, Oregon.

This year’s extended festival opens one week earlier on Memorial Day Weekend and provides three weekends of Remembrance, Revelry and Roses, from May 22-6 June 2009. The Portland Rose Festival celebrated its Centennial in 2007 and is organised by the volunteer, non-profit Portland Rose Festival Association to promote the region.

Given the length of the festivities and the huge number of fantastic attractions, we highlight a selection of the major events.

The Festival kicks off with The Fireworks Spectacular, on May 22nd, illuminating Portland’s Downtown Waterfront with thunderous pyrotechnics after dark. This year’s event will be choreographed to music.

On May 30, if you are fit enough, you can join the expected 4000 runners in the largest fun-run in Oregon. The Starlight Run covers a mere 3.1 miles with prizes for winners and the best fancy dress costumes.

Started in 1907  The Fred Meyer Junior Parade became an official event in The Portland Rose Festivalin 1936. This children’s parade has become an annual tradition for Portland families. Bands, school and scout groups, youth clubs and dance teams join in with decorated floats, wagons and even bikes. This year’s event is on 3rd June at 1.00pm. The kids should look out for Tillie The Cow and Geico Gecko.

A tradition for nearly 80 years is continued for 2009 with  Fleet Week. From 4-8 June, Naval vessels from the US Navy, US Coast Guard and The Canadian Maritime Forces visit The City of Roses. Tours of the ships are available daily.

Befitting a Rose festival, on the 4th and 5th of June the Lloyd Centre Ice Rink becomes a rose garden for the 121st Annual Spring Rose Show. With over 2000 blooms, this is the largest and oldest show in the country.

Music lovers of all ages will enjoy The Bandfest on June 5th, celebrating a great tradition of band music. Top performer for 2009 is the One More Time Around Marching Bandwhich claims to be the largest performing band in the world.

June 6th sees the Coronation of The Rose Festival Queen. The Queen is announced prior to the Grand Floral Parade and will represent Portland and The Rose Festival for 12 months at appearances throughout the USA and abroad.

The premier event of the festival is the Keybank Grand Floral Parade which takes place at 10.00am on 6th June. Thousands line the streets of Portland to enjoy huge floral floats, high stepping marching bands and equestrian groups which confirm Portland’s Rose Festival as one of the world’s great celebrations.

On 6-7 June The Rose Festival hosts  the 21st year of  The Dragon Boat Races. Over 100 teams in heats of four compete every nine minutes on the Willaimette River, near the Hawthorne Bridge.

These are just a selection of the many great attractions at The Portland Rose Festival. Before you leave, If you have not had your fill of roses or gardens plan to visit the Portland Classical Chinese Garden and the Japan Garden in the city. Take in the great Saturday Market and perhaps visit Portland Zoo, acclaimed, worldwide for its  breeding programme of Asian elephants.

Have an entertaining time at the 2009 Portland Rose Festival.