Hard to believe Thanksgiving already passed us by and that it’s now time for us to present Portland’s Holiday Happenings for 2017, but it’s true! We’ve included a little something for everyone, but if you can’t find what you’re looking for here, check out PDXPipeline or the Portland Christmas Guide. There’s LOTS to choose from if you’re looking to celebrate!
November 24th kicked off Portland’s holiday hubbub this year, starting with the Macy’s Holiday Parade and Portland’s tree lighting and caroling in Pioneer Courthouse Square. The singing already happened, but the region’s largest Christmas tree will be lighting up Pioneer Courthouse Square all season.
Looking for Lights?
Winter Wonderland Nov. 24 – Dec. 26. This drive-through light show at Portland International Raceway is billed as the largest display of holiday lights west of the Mississippi!
Christmas Festival of Lights Nov. 24 – Dec. 30. Thousands and thousands of lights are strung through the Grotto’s beautiful grounds, making this a peaceful place to spend an evening. Carolers perform on most nights, too (including the fantastic Jesuit HS choir on December 11).
Zoo Lights Nov. 24 – Jan 7. All kinds of fun animal-themed light displays decorate the Oregon Zoo. Not sure how the animals feel about it, but it’s a patron favorite! Parking can get crazy. Consider riding Max directly to the Zoo stop.
Christmas Ships Dec. 1-21. With two rivers running through town, we’ve got lots of people with boats, and they like to celebrate in style. You can watch from the river’s edge or go to one of the many restaurants on the river for a warmer viewing spot.
Christmas in the Garden Nov. 23 – Dec. 31. Light festival and German marketplace at the Oregon Garden. PLUS, they have an outdoor ice rink!! If you’ve been longing to skate outdoors ever since Lloyd Center put that darn roof on, here’s your chance. We visited the Oregon Garden last fall, and it is a beautiful spot.
Festival of Trees Dec. 1-2. Elaborately decorated Christmas trees, mini-trees, wreaths and holiday displays await those who head to the Oregon Convention Center to get into the holiday spirit. Hands-on fun include frosting cookies and patching up stuffed animals at the Teddy Bear Hospital. The event is hosted by Providence Health, and proceeds benefit cancer research.
Portland Menorah Lighting Dec. 12-19. The annual lighting of the Portland Menorah, nightly during Hanukkah in downtown’s Director Park. First Night lighting event begins at 4:30 PM with music, Chanukah foods, and children’s crafts.
Peacock Lane Dec. 15-31. A Portland tradition since the 1920s. We’re lucky we live just blocks from Peacock Lane, so we get to visit every year. It’s quite a quaint little tradition that makes Portland feel like a small town. Pedestrians only December 15-17.
Want to Get Cultured up with a Little Music or Theater?
A Christmas Carol Portland Playhouse, Dec. 2-30. I’ve seen it so many times, and I still want to go this year.The classic Christmas tale IMHO.
A Christmas Memory paired with Winter Song Portland Center Stage, Nov. 18 – Dec. 31. A tiny gem of a holiday story paired with favorite Christmas songs.
Your Holiday Hit Parade Broadway Rose Theater, Nov. 22 – Dec. 23. n an old forgotten hotel, ghosts of Christmas music past materialize to perform anew the classics of the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s – and pick up a song or two from the current day courtesy of a pair of spirited tourists.
Singing Christmas Tree Keller Auditorium, seven performances between Nov. 24 – Dec. 3. Get your tickets soon if you’re hoping to see the world’s largest living Christmas tree.
Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition brings together caroling groups of all ages. Friday, Dec. 8 from 5:30–7:30 p.m.
The Nutcracker Oregon Ballet Theater, Dec. 9-24. A holiday classic.
Tuba Christmas Pioneer Courthouse Square, Dec. 9. It starts at 1:30 p.m., but get there early if you want to sit down. Really early. If you haven’t been before, you should really check it out. Many other cities have them as well. We’ve even been to one in Punta Gorda, Florida!
Hungry or Thirsty?
Two community groups are getting together to put on a Kwanzaa Karamu, a feast and community celebration, on December 16th. The event will be held in Vancouver, WA.
Along with a pickled herring eating contest, Joulupukki (Finland’s Santa Claus) will be at Portland’s annual Scandinavian festival, ScanFair, going on Dec. 2-3 at the Memorial Coliseum. We’re betting they have some tastier-than-herring Scandinavian treats available as well, and you can even get your photo taken with Joulupukki!
It just wouldn’t be Portland without a beer festival, and the folks sponsoring the Holiday Ale Festival will be ready to get the season off to a great start in a giant tent at Pioneer Courthouse Square from November 29-December 3.
Need to do Some Shopping?
Portland’s Saturday Market is a fantastic opportunity to buy handmade gifts from over 250 local artisans. The gifts range from food to clothing to fine art and everything in between. Open on Saturday and Sunday only from March – Christmas, but they are open every day in the week leading up to Christmas Day. They call it the Festival of the Last Minute.
Looking for Unique Holiday Fun?
Santacon is, well, hard to define. If you’ve stumbled across dozens, even hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of folks dressed up in Santa costumes presumably in the midst of a pub crawl, you’ve seen it. But even those who participate sometimes have a tough time nailing it down, and there’s even controversy about which version (there are three in Portland alone) is the authentic / original / best one. From our perspective, they all look like a good time!
Sing Along Messiah provides an opportunity to join a huge holiday choir and belt out Handel’s masterpiece in four-part harmony. Several opportunities dot the calendar in December, but the biggie is held at Central Lutheran Church, where we joined hundreds of folks and even got chills during the mighty Chorus! December 15th at CLC.
Holiday Express takes riders back in time in vintage rail cars powered by a steam locomotive. Santa and his elves are along for the 45-minute round trip ride that passes through Oaks Bottom along the Willamette River.
Hands On Portland posts a calendar of volunteer opportunities for those who’d like to give back a little during the holidays, and for those who prefer to let their fingers do the walking, Willamette Week’s Give Guide makes it easy to support – via online donation -any or all of 141 non-profits that impact the Portland area.
Oregon’s Ugliest Sweater Run is a FREE 5K race that benefits Ladybug CDH Foundation, so please bring items for families in the NICU (cotton receiving blankets, small stuffed animals, blank journals). December 23rd in Tualatin. Just in time to work off those Christmas cookies you’ll be eating.
Enjoy your holiday happenings this season, whether they’re for a day, a week or a weekend!