October is quite simply one of the best months in the year in Portland. Sweater weather has arrived, but it’s not unbearably chilly just yet, the changing leaves put on a brilliant display, and the crisp new season brings a wealth of seasonal activities. We’ve rounded up some of this month's best options, both indoors and outdoors, from 15 Years of LAIKA to Portugal. The Man, and Crypto-Zoo: Museum of Mystery to Spirit of Halloweentown. For even more seasonal offerings, check out our guide to fall festivities in and around Portland.
15 Years of LAIKA
Stop-motion studio LAIKA, based in Hillsboro and owned by none other than Nike co-founder Phil Knight, is celebrating its 15th anniversary with screenings (complete with filmmaker Q&As) of all five of its Oscar-nominated films, from Coraline to Missing Link. Before or after you enjoy one of the films, examine displays of meticulously made puppets and set pieces in the accompanying pop-up exhibit.
OMSI, Central Eastside (Oct 15-31)
Crypto-Zoo: Museum of Mystery
Whimsical illustrator and woodworker Mike Bennett presents his most ambitious project yet: an entire museum full of monsters just in time for Halloween.
7410 N Chicago Ave, St. Johns (Sept 20-Nov 5)
Mandela: The Official Exhibition
Created in collaboration with Nelson Mandela's family, friends, and colleagues, this global exhibition tells the story of the anti-apartheid revolutionary and political leader through personal memorabilia. With the freedom fighter's wisdom still remaining relevant in today's politically tense society, this look into the recent past can help us create a better future.
OMSI, Central Eastside (Oct 9-Feb 13, 2022)
Queen Nefertari’s Egypt
Learn about the royal life of the revered (and highly educated for the time) Queen Nefertari, wife of Pharaoh Ramesses II. Curated by the world-renowned Museo Egizio in Turin, Italy, the exhibition examines the role of women in ancient Egypt through over 220 works of art, including the Queen's elaborately decorated burial chamber, sculptures, and everyday objects.
Portland Art Museum, South Park Blocks (Oct 16-Jan 16, 2022)
Circo Tropical: A South American Circus Party
Celebrate the diversity of vibrant Central and South American cultures with Peruvian music from Grupo Masato and Brazilian music from Bloco Alegria, DJ Blas pumping out danceable beats, performances by aerialists, jugglers, and stilt walkers, food from Favela Brazilian Café, and a Famosinha Cachaça tasting.
The Circus Project Domes, South Waterfront (Sat Oct 9)
Milagro's 25th Original Día de Muertos Festival
Bilingual theatre Milagro presents their annual Día de Muertos festival, providing a joyous space for reunion to celebrate and honor those who have passed. Exploring the concepts of rebirth and renewal, this month-long program will include an altar, craft workshops, concerts, poetry, readings, a Día de Muertos documentary, and more.
Milagro Theatre, Central Eastside (Various dates between Oct 9-Nov 6)
Portland Film Festival
The Portland Film Festival will once again be streaming this year, with over 300 titles to keep your eyes glued to the screen in themed blocks such as Black voices, indigenous voices, LGBTQIA+ voices, veterans’ voices, and voices of mental health.
Virtual (Oct 6-Nov 8)
5th Annual Portland Dance Film Fest
Bringing the beauty and joy of movement to the screen, this year's hybrid Portland Dance Film Festival will include online and in-person screenings of 31 PDFF picks and five documentaries curated from nine different countries, featuring Uprooted: The Journey of Jazz Dance.
Clinton Street Theater, Hosford-Abernethy (Oct 15-17) & Virtual (Oct 15-24)
26th Annual H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival
This year, Lovecraft fans have the opportunity to stream the festival from the comfort of their own homes. The cosmic horror fest features several shorts blocks with filmmaker Q&As, a special 10th anniversary presentation of The Whisperer in Darkness with some fine folks from the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, plus some streaming-exclusive bonuses that weren’t shown during the in-person part of the festival.
Virtual (Oct 8-10)
SLAY Film Festival
From the folks who bring you the sexy film fest HUMP! and stoner showcase SPLIFF, comes the second annual SLAY Film Festival to scare your pants off on Hallo-weekend. Expect everything from "classic ghost stories and slasher films, to dystopian cults and political nightmares."
Clinton Street Theater, Hosford-Abernethy (Oct 29-30)
Boo Bomb VII
Portland's "number one radio station for hip hop and throwbacks" JAM’N 107.5 presents their annual Boo Bomb VII concert with a scary good lineup of The Game, E-40, Fat Joe, Too Short, Baby Bash, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and Luniz.
Moda Center, Lloyd District (Fri Oct 15)
Dan + Shay: The (Arena) Tour
Country-pop duo Dan + Shay have won three consecutive Grammy Awards for best country duo/group performance and they're showing no signs of slowing down with their biggest tour yet. The pair recently collaborated with Carrie Underwood on a cover of "Only Us" for the film adaptation of Dear Evan Hansen.
Moda Center, Lloyd District (Thurs Oct 28)
James Taylor and His All-Star Band
Folksy Americana pop anthem leader James Taylor will bring his easy living sensibilities to Portland with his All-Star Band in tow.
Moda Center, Lloyd District (Mon Oct 25)
Portugal. The Man
Even though they *technically* haven’t released a new album since their 2017 hit, Woodstock, we feel it still: the pull towards this band’s catchy pop-rock tunes. Transplants from Alaska, PTM has been readily adopted as Portland’s own. They’ve made it easy to love them with their infectious hooks, commitment to activism and philanthropy, and fierce support of the Blazers.
Edgefield, Troutdale (Fri Oct 15)
FOOD & DRINK
Beer & Wine Oyster Fest
Gulp some slippery bivalves from POP Oysters, paired with wine, cider, and beer from several coastal breweries on tap.
The Civic Taproom & Bottle Shop, Goose Hollow (Sat Oct 23)
Dine the Couve
All month long, you can take advantage of super-cheap "3 for $20" specials and "3 for $30" from over 30 participating Clark County restaurants, including Locust Cider & Brewing, Slow Fox Chili, Rally Pizza, and Mt. Tabor Brewing. If you redeem five different offers during the promotion, you'll be entered to win a $100 gift certificate to the participating restaurant of your choice.
Various locations, Vancouver (Oct 1-31)
Portland Mercury’s Wing Week
Have a pile of napkins at the ready while you dig into a plate of $6 specially-sauced drums and flats at 24 of Portland's best bars and restaurants. Maybe have some carrot and celery sticks for good measure... or don't.
Various locations (Oct 4-10)
Continuing the Conversation
In this juried show, four local artists reflect on the past year in art works that interpret the Black Lives Matter movement. Drawing inspiration from the confrontation of racial injustice, this exhibition reminds us of the strides we've made and that we still have work to do.
Alberta Street Gallery, Alberta Arts District (Sept 30-Oct 26)
An exploration of housing justice in the cultural landscape of Los Angeles, this exhibition features a video essay from multimedia artist Sarah Rara, who delivers a glimpse into the tenant-landlord relationship, anxiety, motherhood, and resilience. Explaining how the piece came to fruition, Rara writes: “Eight years ago, I began recording accounts of every interaction I had with landlords and developers, compiling a substantial multi-volume binder of photographs, notes, documents. I never intended for these notes to form the basis of an artwork, I was collecting evidence to protect myself and fellow tenants from illegal evictions. But after years of observing and documenting, I began adding poems to the binder as a way of processing, as a kind of power reversal."
Oregon Contemporary, Kenton (Sept 24-Oct 17)
Portland Open Studios Tour 2021
Get an inside look at the studios of over 100 participating artists across the city who represent a vast variety of mediums. You'll get to take a glimpse at works in progress and chat with artists about their process in this unique and intimate opportunity.
Various locations (Oct 9-10 & 16-17)
The MAiZE at the Pumpkin Patch
Try not to get turned around too many times as you make your way through Portland’s flagship eight-acre corn maze. This year’s theme “Bridgetown,” with immaculately trimmed cornrows taking the shape of Mt. Hood, the St. Johns Bridge, forests, and rivers.
The Pumpkin Patch, Sauvie Island (Sept 4-Oct 31)
Portland Erotic Ball
Emmy-nominated Sasha Scarlett will host Portland sexiest event, taking up three floors of the Crystal Ballroom. Costumes (or stylized states of undress) are a must, so you might as well go all out in pursuit of costume contest prizes (over $5,000 in cash is up for grabs). Soul Vaccination will perform, DJ OG ONE—the official DJ of the Blazers—will keep bodies rocking, and you can admire circus performers and aerial and burlesque performances or get in on the action on the interactive fetish demonstration stage.
Crystal Ballroom, West End (Sat Oct 30)
Spirit of Halloweentown
You'll find it impossible not to get into the spooky spirit at St. Helens' annual tribute to Halloween. Leaning into the fact that the movies Halloweentown and Twilight—Ashley Greene aka Alice Cullen will even make an appearance this year—were partially filmed there, the city transforms into a themed attraction complete with a giant pumpkin, circus performers, a haunted house, and more.
St. Helens (Oct 1-31)
Underhill & Fearlandia Present Season Of Screams
Underhill Haunted House and Fearlandia have put their twisted talents together to present Season of Screams, a collection of three haunted attractions under one roof. Dodge chemically altered lab employees in Fears Gate, face your worst nightmare in Night Terrors, and escape the wrath of the scheming Madam Underhill in Underhill Manor.
Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Lloyd District (Multiple dates between Oct 8-31)
The Nightmare Before Christmas with the Oregon Symphony
The Oregon Symphony will perform Danny Elfman's haunting film score from Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, bringing Jack Skellington, Sally, and crew to life on the big screen. Costumes are encouraged to truly get into the Halloween spirit.
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, South Park Blocks (Oct 22-24)
READINGS & TALKS
Susan Orlean in Conversation With Meg Wolitzer
New Yorker staff writer (and Willamette Week alum!) Susan Orlean presents her latest book, On Animals, compiling a "lifetime of musings, meditations, and in-depth profiles" about our relationships to household pets, animals we eat, and predators. She will be joined in conversation by Meg Wolitzer (The Female Persuasion).
Virtual (Mon Oct 11)
Jonathan Franzen in Conversation with Maria Semple
Crossroads, Jonathan Franzen's first novel in his new "magnum opus trilogy" A Key to All Mythologies, tells the story of a multi-generational Midwestern family, “mirroring the preoccupations and dilemmas of the United States from the Vietnam War to the 2020s.” The acclaimed novelist and essayist will be joined in conversation by fellow author Maria Semple (Where'd You Go, Bernadette).
Virtual (Tues Oct 12)
2021/22 Portland Arts & Lectures: Daniel James Brown
Daniel James Brown formerly taught writing at San Jose State University and Stanford before pivoting into writing narrative nonfiction full time, bringing "compelling historical events to life as vividly and accurately as I can." His latest book, Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II, profiles the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a special Japanese American Army unit that overcame brutal odds in Europe while their families were simultaneously confined in U.S. internment camps.
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, South Park Blocks (Thurs Oct 14)
Dr. Jane Goodall in Conversation With Dr. Evan Antin
The renowned primatologist and naturalist Dr. Jane Goodall DBE will discuss her new book The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times with celebrity wildlife veterinarian, Dr. Evan Antin (World Wild Vet: Encounters in the Animal Kingdom). In today's society, it often seems like all hope is lost, but Dr. Goodall will share insights and life lessons she's picked up throughout her storied career in addition to posing some thought-provoking questions.
Virtual (Wed Oct 20)
Alyssa Edwards: Memoirs of a Traveling Queen
This autobiographical show will shine a spotlight on tongue poppin’ drag legend Alyssa Edwards as you’ve never seen her. Expect costume changes, wigs aplenty, and stunning choreography while the dancing queen divulges stories from her childhood, her appearances on Drag Race, and beyond.
Aladdin Theater, Brooklyn (Oct 17-18)
Oregon Ballet Theatre: Face To Face
This super limited engagement by Oregon Ballet Theatre will pack three ballets that "bring us face-to-face with human nature" into one program: Ben Stevenson's intimate look at love Three Preludes, George Balanchine's iconic and plotless The Four Temperaments, and Jennifer Archibald's otherworldly SculptedClouds.
Keller Auditorium, Downtown (Oct 15-16)
The Maker’s Fair
Makers Union PDX is putting together two of Portland's favorite things—beer and makers—in this street fair where you can shop locally made goods, enjoy some craft brews from co-hosts Hammer & Stitch, and grab a bite or two.
Hammer & Stitch Brew Co., Northwest (Sat Oct 9)
SPORTS & RECREATION
Walk to End Alzheimer’s 2021
Walkers of all paces will tote "promise garden" flowers during this 5K to raise funds and awareness for a cure to Alzheimer's and other memory loss disorders.
Oregon Zoo, Southwest Hills (Sat Oct 16)