Grab a warm drink and get your cheer on with this list of the best Portland winter festivals and Christmas events happening this holiday season! From lights to trains to parties to extreme sports, Portland is the place to be for the holidays and we’ve got you covered.
This is a must-see spectacle if you are visiting Portland in December. We mean that so literally we made it bold, italicized, and underlined, so you know we mean business. The Oregon Zoo completely transforms its beautiful grounds with over a million and a half lights. In addition to seeing zoo animals like elephants, penguins, and otters, you can also ride the famous Zoo Train and experience the zoo like you never have before. To make the evening even better, there are a plethora of food carts, drinks, and even live music. Check the Oregon Zoo Lights calendar for exact dates, times, and events.
Portland has no shortage of places that are all lit up for the holiday season. The Christmas Ship Parade runs for just over two weeks in December, where every evening owners outfit their ships in festive lights and make their way up and down the river. Lights at the Grotto start-up after Thanksgiving and is a beautiful old church where visitors will be able to walk through a stunning display of lights and enjoy choir performances of Christmas tunes, with five different groups performing a short set each night. Peacock Lane is known as “Portland’s Christmas Street” where each house gets into the spirit. Lights at Portland International Raceway is the perfect Christmas event for families where you can head down to the racetrack and take in the lights show set up around the track from the comfort of your own vehicle.
Two huge craft fairs come to Portland just in time for the holiday season. America’s Largest Christmas Bazaar at the Portland Expo Center has literally something for everyone; you’re sure to find something to get you in the holiday spirit. For something a little more local, check out the Portland Convention Center in December for The Crafty Wonderland Market. This market features 250+ artists selling amazing handmade goods, and there’s no admission! If you can’t make the market this year, Crafty Wonderland does have two brick and mortar stores in Portland where they carry items by over 200 of the vendors who attend the market!
The Portland Night Market is a seriously cool Portland marketplace celebrating the best of the best Portland vendors. You’ll find everything from art to wine to handmade goods to music (and even a hidden speakeasy!). This free event takes place in a huge warehouse underneath the Morrison Bridge where you can meet some of Portland’s coolest creators and purveyors, all while eating and drinking the night away. And did we mention there’s a food cart pod offered just outside the venue?! This event only happens a few times a year, and the December market is a great place to find the perfect holiday gift for everyone on your list.
If no Christmas season is complete for you without seeing the Nutcracker or attending the theatre, Portland has got you covered for those too! The theaters in Portland are alive with the holiday spirit during performances of The Nutcracker, the Portland’s Gay Men’s Chorus, Tuba Christmas, The Singing Christmas Tree, and you can always find a show of A Christmas Carol. These are just a sample of some of the shows that you can check out during the holidays. Click here for schedules and more info.
About an hour outside of Portland sits the quaint picturesque town of Hood River. Bring the family here and jump on the Train to Christmas Town. During the 70-minute train ride you will listen to music, munch on cookies and hot cocoa, and watch as elves dance down the aisles. Kids even get to meet Santa Claus and get a special present from him.
Portland has a vibrant nightlife and this is no truer than for New Year’s festivities. If you’ll be in town to ring in the New Year, you will have no shortage of places to choose from! One of the more famous New Year’s Events is the Champagne Ball, where one ticket grants you access to 18 bars, three dance floors, and over 1500 party goers. Dress up in your cocktail party best and ring in 2019 with style and fun!
Portland doesn’t see much snow in the city, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love our winter sports. If you’re in the city, lace up the ice skates and check out the skating rink at the Lloyd Center Mall or the Hillsboro Winter Village. If you’re up for a drive, head an hour out of town to Mount Hood. There are three separate ski resorts for your skiing and snowboarding addiction, tons of snowshoeing trails, and even a tubing adventure park. For something less extreme, grab a drink and a fantastic meal at Timberline Lodge with a perfect view of the mountain peak.
Lost Plate leads the best food tours in town, and each month we host a one-night-only pop-up dining event that gives you the opportunity to dine in an intimate setting while enjoying a multi-course meal with wine pairings. Each night is unique and offered only once for an authentic, one-of-a-kind experience. Portland chef Max Germano presents each course and curated wine pairings are done by Willamette Valley’s Fullerton Wines. Limited seating, reservations required.
This February, the entire city lights up during the Portland Light Festival. This newer festival transforms neighborhoods around Portland into large, and sometimes interactive, art installations and performances. Expect fire, bright lights, lit up moving sculptures, and more! Bundle up, grab your umbrella, and travel around the city by foot or bike to see these exhibits yourself.
If you’ve ever been on one of our Portland food tours, you know we are passionate about the food and drink we serve. You probably even heard your tour guide say the dish was “the best thing on the menu” or their “favorite food in all of Portland!” So we’ve compiled some of our favorite recipes from our tour right here, plus a boozy extra, for you to try at home!
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