Portland Christmas Guide 2016

Here is a guide to Portland events and activities for the holidays. If 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, Christmas in Dairyville, 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.
 

ZooLights

 

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.

My Macy’s Holiday Parade

 

Herald the start to the holiday season, with over 20 floats, 600 costumed characters, and the big man in red. The My Macy's Holiday Parade runs through downtown and usually takes place the day after Thanksgiving. Take public transportation to prevent parking headaches.

America’s Largest Christmas Bazaar

 

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.

Christmas Festival of Lights

 

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.

Winter Wonderland

 

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.

Pioneer Courthouse Square Tree Lighting Ceremony

 

After a choir kicks things off, well-known musicians lead sing-alongs (songbooks provided) in honor of the illumination of Portland's 75-foot, 14,000-light tree in Pioneer Courthouse Square. 

See what's on Portland Events 2017


 

Christmas Fantasy Trail

 

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.

Holiday Ale Festival

 

Celebrate the holidays in Pioneer Courthouse Square with fellow beer lovers and hundreds of potent winter ales. This multiday beerfest is one of the most festive beer events all year thanks to tons of good cheer (and ugly sweaters).

Hawthorne Holiday Stroll

 

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.

Providence Festival of Trees

 

View more than 20 creatively decorated trees, 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.

Christmas Ship Parade

 

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.

Holiday Express

 

Santa and his elves operate this classic steam train, which runs between Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge and the Springwater Corridor gateway.

Jingle Bell Run/Walk

 

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.

 

See the photos for 2017


 

The Miracle of a Million Lights

 

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. 

Holiday Concert Series

 

Hear new takes on classic holiday songs at the First Congregational Church. A Portland tradition since 2000, the concerts feature a rock violinist and a nine-piece band. 

Holiday Half Marathon and 5K

 

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.

Lights on Peacock Lane

 

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.

Champagne Ball

 

Get tickets early for this wild New Year's party. Held at the Hilton Portland and Executive Tower downtown, it touts 1400 guests, 4 dance floors, 17 bars, and one epic countdown.

Christmas in Dairyville

 

This complete Christmas town boasts vintage storefronts and holiday scenes replete with live animals, Santa, and over 300 decorated trees... and it's free! All on the Alpenrose Dairy grounds, just 20 minutes from downtown.

Christmas at the Old Church

 

At The Old Church Concert Hall in the West End, hear original and traditional Christmas songs with gospel singers and more, led by pianist Michael Allen Harrison. Concerts are held nightly December 10-24, and on the 26th.

Festival of the Last Minute

 

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).

SantaCon

 

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.

Tuba Christmas

 

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.

 

See the photos for 2017


 

More Portland Gift Guides

Big Weekend Calendars Gift Guide
The Oregonian's Ultimate Gift Guide
Portland Monthly's Essential Holiday Gift Guide
12 Stocking Stuffers for Food and Drink Connoisseurs
126 Fabulous Gifts for Every Member of the Family
The Oregonian's Holiday Gift Guide for Geeks
Portland Tribune's Gift Guides
The Joinery Handcrafted Holiday Gift Guide 2015
Bakery Bingo's 2015 Holiday Gift Guide

 

More Portland Christmas Event Listings

PDX Pipeline's Holiday Events
Portland's Holiday Traditions
The Oregonian's Holiday Events Guide 2015
Portland December Events
PDX Parent's 2016 Holiday Events Guide
Fun Christmas Events in Portland
Winter Wonderland's Christmas Events in Portland
Portland Tribune's Holiday Events Guide
Portland Monthly's Event Calendar
TriMet's 2015 Holiday Events Guide