What to Do in Portland (Feb. 7–13, 2024)

Mardi Gras Ball at the Wonder Ballroom, and other events to check out this week.

GO: True West Book Talk

In her new book, True West: Myth and Mending on the Far Side of America (Torrey House Press, 318 pages, $19.95), Betsy Gaines Quammen examines how the myths of the American West shape our sense of identity, create divisions, and distort our view of reality. Gaines Quammen interviewed sources ranging from militia members to grassroots activists in an attempt to understand the impacts of these myths and the complex history behind them. Join her in a conversation with Leah Sottile, author of When the Moon Turns to Blood, as they discuss the challenges and opportunities of mending the West and our nation. Powell’s City of Books, 1005 W Burnside St., 800-878-7323, powells.com. 7 pm Friday, Feb. 9. Free.

GO: Portland Winter Light Festival

Just when the winter gloom is starting to settle in at a bone-deep level, this annual festival arrives to deliver the perfect amount of EDM and glow lights to fix us right up. The sprawling nine-day Winter Light Festival illuminates the city with more than 170 free light-based art installations and performances. Organizers expect over 200,000 visitors to this year’s “celebration of art, technology and community.” The aforementioned “Fun Luv’n Silent Disco” continues 6–10 pm this Friday and Saturday at the Electric Blocks at Southeast Second Avenue and Clay Street; headphone rentals cost $15. Locations and times vary; pdxwlf.com/program. Through Feb. 10. Free.

PARTY: Mardi Gras Ball

Looking for a Mardi Gras party that’s more than just cheap beads? Portland’s annual Mardi Gras Ball is billed as one of the most authentic celebrations of Louisiana culture outside the Pelican State, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The ball is organized by a group of Louisiana transplants called the “Mysti Krewe of Nimbus,” who’ve been bringing that Cajun flair to the Pacific Northwest since 2010. Unleash your weirder side in full costume and possibly win prizes. The crowning of the annual Mardi Gras King and Queen will include a free traditional king cake distributed to the crowd. Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell St., 503-284-8686, wonderballroom.com. 7 pm Saturday, Feb. 10. $30. 21+.

WATCH: Studio Ghibli Film Festival

Fans of stunning Japanese animation films have the chance to watch classics like My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service with a side of academia at the ninth annual Studio Ghibli Film Festival. Learn about founder Hayao Miyazaki’s genius from experts at Portland State and Pacific universities while enjoying the studio’s movies on the largest screen in Portland. Empirical Theater at OMSI, 1945 SE Water Ave., 503-797-4000, omsi.edu. Through Feb. 25. $6.50–$8.

WATCH: The Arc of Oblivion

The Tomorrow Theater hosts the Portland premiere of The Arc of Oblivion, a documentary about a filmmaker’s quixotic quest to build an ark in a field in Maine. Directed by documentary filmmaker Ian Cheney (The Search for General Tso) and executive produced by Werner Herzog, The Arc of Oblivion explores a quirk of humankind: In a universe that erases its tracks, we humans are hellbent on leaving a trace. The documentary fuses engaging storytelling techniques like stop-motion animation, interviews with the director’s inner circle, and riveting cinematography. Tomorrow Theater, 3530 SE Division St., 503-221-1156, tomorrowtheater.org. 7 pm Thursday, Feb. 8. $15.

SHOP: Plus Size Swap & Shop

Why not give those older outfits that gave you so much joy years ago another chance to shine while finding some new favorites, all in the same place? Bring in up to 10 clothing items and get up to 10 raffle tickets. Raffle tickets can be exchanged one to one for other swapped items or 15% off one item priced in the store. Just make sure you don’t bring anything you wouldn’t wear yourself, so no holes or stains, and go ahead and keep your skivvies. Drop-off and sorting will occur 11 am–6 pm Feb. 7–9. 1X and up sizes only. Midtowners Market, 1736 SE Hawthorne Blvd. 503-298-5484, midtownersmarket.com. 11 am–6 pm Saturday, Feb. 10. Free.

EAT: Bella Organic Farm 2024 Portland Valentine’s Day Gift Special

Get into the Valentine’s festivities this year with a tasty day out with your love at Bella Organic Farm on Sauvie Island. Indulge in its hand-dipped chocolate-covered strawberries, meats, cheeses, veggies, fruits, rustic local bread, nuts, dried fruits, pepper jelly, stone ground mustard, honey, decadent chocolates, and more. Arrive at your leisure on the date selected between noon and 5 pm and enjoy your package at the farm or to go. The spread comes with your choice of beer or wine. Bella Organic Pumpkin Patch & Winery, 16205 NW Gillihan Road, 503-621-9545, bellaorganic.com. Noon–5 pm Feb. 9–11 and 13–14. $150–$175 for 2.

GO: Lunar New Year at Lan Su Chinese Garden

Kicking off four weeks of Lunar New Year celebrations, Lan Su Chinese Garden hosts its annual free lion dance performance and “God of wealth” character meet-and-greet this Saturday, Feb. 10. The first 500 attendees to the 9:30–10 am lion dance will receive red envelopes with special New Year messages. Opening festivities continue into the evening with an illuminated dragon dance procession through the nighttime garden, which will be fully decorated with large-scale lantern sculptures. Other February event highlights ushering in the Year of the Dragon at Lan Su include martial arts demonstrations, family craft activities, more weekend lion dances, and the grand reopening of the Lan Su teahouse, which has undergone renovation. Lan Su Chinese Garden, 239 NW Everett St. 503-228-8131, lansugarden.org. 10 am–4 pm daily. $14 admission, evening lantern viewing $15–$45.

GO: Portland Spirit 2024 Valentine’s Day Dinner Cruise

Book a spot on the Portland Spirit’s special Valentine’s Day cruise and enjoy a four-course meal and live entertainment on your romantic voyage. Dance to live entertainment by the band The Bylines as you take in the sights of the historic Milwaukie Waterfront and downtown Portland during this relaxing two-and-a-half-hour cruise. Salmon Springs Dock, 1010 SW Naito Parkway, 503-224-3900, portlandspirit.com. 6 pm Saturday and Wednesday, Feb. 10 and 14. $150 and up.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.