This is a guide to Portland events and activities for the holidays. If you live in the Portland area or you are coming into Portland around Christmas, I hope this guide helps you have fun.
Portland has a lot of stuff to do during the holidays. I recommend the Pioneer Courthouse Square Tree Lighting and Lights on Peacock Lane the most. Some of Portland’s more unique Christmas events are the Christmas Ship Parade, ZooLights, and SantaCon. (Bar hopping with a bunch of people dressed in Santa costumes? Really? Yep.)
I hope you find some good things to do in Portland during the holidays. Email me if you’d like to add anything to the list of Portland Christmas events, festivals, and other activities.
NOTE: It’s probably no surprise that all dates are tentative due to the pandemic. Be sure to check with the venue beforehand. Thank you for adhering to all COVID-19 safety precautions required by the event or activity you are participating in.
Don’t miss this magical sight: zoo animals frolicking in the form of a million holiday lights. This Oregon Zoo event is fun for kids, and real zoo animals even appear among the lights! Open most evenings in December. This year has been reimagined as a drive-through experience. Tickets available online.
Let the Portland Revels take you back to the days of yore with a traditional winter solstice celebration. The performances use medieval, Scandinavian, Victorian, and Celtic themes with singing, dancing, juggling, and poetry as well as a dash of whimsy and drama.
At this huge Christmas shopping event, get gift ideas from 1000 vendors—many selling handmade gifts. The bazaar usually has special free-admission days and admission discounts, which you can find on the website.
This November, jump start your holiday shopping at this annual Oregon Convention Center event, which hosts more than 300 exhibitors offering one-of-a-kind gifts. For admission discounts, check the website. CANCELLED for 2020.
Magical beyond belief, The Grotto’s grounds, which include a beautiful cave in the side of a huge cliff in Northeast Portland, get decorated with lights and nativity scenes. You’ll find 150 choral performances, too. Open most evenings in December. See website for 2020’s modified schedule.
Show your holiday spirit – and get in shape – at this annual 5K fun run/walk in Tigard’s Cook Park. Santa will make a special appearance and all finishers receive an evergreen seedling. For a reduced registration fee, bring food and clothing for donation.
For tons of gift ideas, check out Crafty Wonderland’s holiday market. Over 200 artisans gather at the Oregon Convention Center to share and sell their handmade products. Admission is free.
The largest holiday light display “west of the Mississippi” can be toured in the comfort of your car: the twinkling display is hosted by the Portland International Raceway. Open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
An homage to Scandinavian markets at Christmastime, this two-day festival is filled with Nordic crafts, foods, and dancing. You’ll also find a Finnish Santa Claus and a Pippi Longstocking activity area for the kids.
In this magical recreation of The Polar Express, meander through the Hood River Valley while dancing chefs serve hot cocoa and the classic Christmas story is read aloud. Expect lots of pajama-clad families and a special gift from Santa. Runs select dates in November and December.
After a choir kicks things off, well-known musicians lead sing-a-longs (songbooks provided) in honor of the illumination of Portland’s 75-foot, 14,000-light tree in Pioneer Courthouse Square. In 2020, the tree lighting will be televised as an hourlong special on November 27 at 6:30 p.m.
Located about 40 minutes south of Portland, it’s worth the drive: Stroll through a winter wonderland of lights, glittering gingerbread houses, a full-size Christmas castle, and lots more. CLOSED for 2020.
Browse goods from over 70 of Portland’s high-quality local artisans and small businesses while enjoying food trucks, live music, and cocktails. Saturday and Sunday are free to attend. In 2020, the event will be online only.
Celebrate the holidays in Pioneer Courthouse Square with fellow beer lovers and hundreds of potent winter ales. Spanning multiple days, this is one of the most festive beer events all year, thanks to tons of good cheer (and ugly sweaters). No word yet if it’ll be held in 2020.
Hawthorne’s boutique stores stay open late for shopping, and carolers roam the streets. It’s a great way to explore this neighborhood and find one-of-a-kind gifts.
The first Saturday in December, bring the whole family (pets too!) to this Tualatin Valley town for a holiday season celebration that includes a community parade, live music, tree lighting, Santa Claus, and lots of free activities.
Enjoy music, food, and drinks while browsing many of Portland’s best-known local retail shops and vendors at the December edition of this evening-only market, held inside a 100-year-old Produce Row warehouse. Admission is free, all ages welcome.
View more than 100 creatively decorated trees, mini-trees, and displays, with themes ranging from bicycles to the Trail Blazers, at the Oregon Convention Center. The event also features entertainment, craft activities, and the Teddy Bear Hospital. Proceeds benefit Providence Health & Services. All events will be online or televised this year.
Quite a sight! Boats decorated with holiday lights parade along the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. Check the website for a schedule with locations. The boats usually parade along the Willamette in downtown Portland on at least two evenings each year.
The mountain’s most festive party kicks off when the sun sets. That’s when Mt. Hood Skibowl cranks up the multi-colored disco lights and rockin’ music for hours of family-friendly snowtubing every Friday and Saturday night. Open Sunday night, too, during school holidays. Check the website for more info on the 2020-2021 winter season.
Santa and his elves operate this classic steam train, which runs between Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge and the Springwater Corridor gateway. CANCELLED for 2020.
Great for families, this fun and easy run raises money to fight arthritis, the nation’s leading cause of disability. It’s a great way to stay healthy for the holidays and connect with fellow runners. The 2020 race will be virtual.
Located in North Portland, the beautiful Victorian Belle mansion gets seriously decorated with holiday lights. Tour its 10 historic rooms, which were first built in 1885. Looking for admission discounts? You’re likely to find them on the website.
Hear new takes on classic holiday songs at the First Congregational Church. A Portland tradition since 2000, the concerts feature rock violinist Aaron Meyer and a nine-piece band. Space is limited due to COVID-19, be sure to book early.
This flat half marathon and 5K in North Portland is all about having holiday fun, with carolers to serenade you along the route. Both runs end with a celebration featuring seasonal ales, eggnog, and warm food. This popular run is going virtual for 2020.
Head to Southeast’s Sunnyside neighborhood to tour an entire street of elaborately decorated Tudor homes. Each house offers something unique. Look for pedestrian-only nights so you can take over the entire block. CANCELLED for the 2020 season.
Get tickets early for this wild New Year’s party. Held at the Hilton Portland and Executive Tower downtown, it touts 1400 guests, 3 dance floors, 18 bars, and one epic countdown. Sadly, this event is another casualty of the pandemic.
See the circa 1912 mansion in a festive new light at this annual event, a Portland tradition for over 50 years. Each room will be artistically styled and decorated by professional designers and volunteers according to this year’s theme. Past examples include iconic places and local pastimes. Open daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
At The Old Church Concert Hall, hear original and traditional Christmas songs with gospel singers and more, led by pianist Michael Allen Harrison. Concerts are held nightly December 13-24, and on the 26th. Events will be televised for 2020.
Procrastinators rejoice! This gift-filled festival hosted by Portland Saturday Market has your back. Find everything you need to surprise and amaze the special people in your life (your gifts will be locally made, too). While the physical market is closed for the remainder of the 2020 season, you can still shop online and support local artisans.
Here’s your chance to dress like Santa, hang with hundreds of Santas, and partake in a holiday bar-hop. This long-running event can get wild, but remember, it’s all about celebrating the holidays in Portland. Now word yet if the 2020 event is happening.
Life’s just better with a tuba. And with 225 tubas, it’s exceptional—especially when the tubas are playing holiday songs in Portland’s Living Room for free. Time your downtown shopping with this holiday concert for a great mid-shopping break. CANCELLED.