Portland Christmas Guide 2023

Things to Do in Portland for Christmas

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. Contact me if you’d like to add anything to the list of Portland Christmas events, festivals, and other activities.


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.

Christmas Revels Show

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.

Holiday Food & Gift Festival

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.

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. See website for 2020’s modified schedule.

Ho Ho 5K

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.

Crafty Wonderland Holiday Art + Craft Market

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.

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 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.

Mt. Hood Railroad’s Christmas Train

This festive holiday train ride meanders through the Hood River Valley. Expect lots of excited families and a special gift from Santa. Runs select dates in November and December.

Pioneer Courthouse Square Tree Lighting Ceremony

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.

Portland Bazaar

Browse goods from 160+ 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.

Holiday Ale Festival

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). Postponed until 2024.

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.

Sherwood Winter Festival

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.

Portland Night Market

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.

Providence Festival of Trees

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.

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.

Cosmic Tubing

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 2023-2024 winter season.

Holiday Express

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

The Miracle of a Million Lights

Located in North Portland, the beautiful c. 1885 Victorian Belle mansion gets seriously decorated with holiday lights. This season, look for events such as holiday teas and live performances.

Holiday Concert Series

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.

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, 3 dance floors, 18 bars, and one epic countdown.

Pittock Mansion Holiday Display

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.

Christmas at the Old Church

At The Old Church Concert Hall, hear original and traditional Christmas songs with gospel singers and more, led by pianist Michael Allen Harrison. This year, concerts begin on December 12th and run most nights until the 24th.


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.

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.

More Portland Gift Guides

Travel Oregon’s Gift of Oregon Guide
Portland Monthly’s Holiday Gift Guide
Portland Mercury’s Gift Guide 2022

More Portland Christmas Event Listings

PDX Pipeline’s Holiday Events
Portland’s Holiday Traditions
Portland Monthly’s Things to Do in Portland