Visiting Portland for the holidays? From Thanksgiving through year’s end, Portland offers an abundance of celebrations, from the traditional to the unexpected.
Know Before You Go
To slow the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant, effective Aug. 27, a statewide mask mandate is in place. Oregonians and visitors ages 5 and up are required to wear face coverings in all public indoor settings, as well as crowded outdoor public spaces where physical distancing is not possible, regardless of vaccination status. This rule does not apply to individuals actively eating or drinking.
Additionally, some event organizers and venues may require proof of vaccination, or a negative COVID test, for admission. Other events may be canceled, postponed or held virtually. Please check individual event websites for the most up-to-date information.
Holiday Events & Festivals
The city’s official holiday season kicks off the day after Thanksgiving with the hugely popular Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony held in Pioneer Courthouse Square. Top-notch performers like Pink Martini help lead the festivities and count down to the moment the towering tree is set aglow.
High above the city, the historic Pittock Mansion creates an equally enchanting scene. Each year for the holidays, the mansion’s 16 rooms are filled with a breathtaking display of lights, trees and decorations revolving around a chosen theme.
Looking for more tree inspirations? Stroll through a yuletide forest comprising dozens of uniquely adorned Christmas trees at Providence Festival of Trees.
A storybook world comes to life each winter thanks to the Mount Hood Model Engineers. Each November the group allows a coveted glimpse at their elaborate model railroad display, which encompasses nearly 1,200 square feet. Train fans can hop aboard the Holiday Express Train, a vintage steam locomotive that carries Santa and his elves on a yuletide ride from on the Oregon Pacific Railroad in Southeast Portland.
Need some grown-up time? Toast the season with pals at the Holiday Ale Festival in Pioneer Courthouse Square, which boasts more than 50 seasonal craft brews and a special Sunday Beer Brunch.
Last but not least, if there’s one can’t-miss seasonal event, it’s the Oregon Ballet Theatre presentation of The Nutcracker — the only George Balanchine-choreographed production of the holiday classic west of the Mississippi.
Holiday Light Displays
The Oregon Zoo provides a dazzling display of twinkling cheer with its ZooLights display, featuring more than a million colored bulbs. (Don’t miss BrewLights, an opportunity to experience ZooLights kids-free while sampling from dozens of beer, cider and seltzer vendors.)
In addition to the Oregon Zoo’s dazzling display of twinkling cheer during ZooLights, other beloved holiday light displays include Winter Wonderland at the Portland International Raceway, the Christmas Festival of Lights at The Grottoand Southeast Portland’s Peacock Lane.
The Christmas Ship Parade can be viewed from the banks of either the Willamette River or the Columbia River. This parade of decorated privately-owned boats has been going strong since 1954.
Anyone who appreciates a good carol will love Portland’s Singing Christmas Tree, an annual showcase of both traditional and contemporary holiday music, performed by more than 350 singers, dancers, local actors and a live orchestra. Choir lovers should also catch The Most Wonderful Season by the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus. And get ready to clap and shout along with the region’s premier gospel singers at Gospel Christmas, another annual Oregon Symphony production.
Traditionalists may prefer to ring in the season with more classical fare, such as Handel’s Messiah performed by the Portland Baroque Orchestra. They’ll also enjoy Comfort and Joy, a concert of classical Christmas music presented by the Oregon Symphony.
For a creative twist on holiday tunes, try the annual Tuba Christmas Concert, where more than 300 tubas play in the middle of downtown Portland at Pioneer Courthouse Square.
Check off everyone on your gift list while taking advantage of tax-free shopping at these festive craft fairs, bazaars and artisan markets. The Portland Saturday Market has been a beloved Rose City tradition since 1974. The market is open until the day before Christmas so you have enough time to find the perfect gift.
Crafty Wonderland is now the city’s biggest arts and crafts market, drawing hundreds of vendors and tens of thousands of visitors to the (nice and dry) Oregon Convention Center. The twice-yearly market returns in early December just in time for holiday shopping.
Take a look at our Made in Portland Gift Guide. Thanks to Portland’s vibrant maker community, holiday shopping here is like sifting through an overflowing treasure chest. The biggest challenge is narrowing down the abundance of choices, which is when this Made-In-Portland Gift Guide comes in handy.
Presenting the sights, sounds and sensations of the season, The Grotto’s Christmas Festival of Lights is the largest Christmas choral festival in the world. The festival features nearly 160 indoor holiday concerts performed by many of the region’s finest school, church and civic choirs. Offering a family-oriented blend of traditional celebration and serene reflection, the…
Come celebrate Christmas with Portland’s favorite holiday tradition. Let the glory of Christmas come alive as the three hundred-voice choir creates a Christmas extravaganza for the whole family, featuring your favorite holiday songs, dancing Santas and a beautiful cinematic Nativity. It is an awe-inspiring presentation of the true gift of Christmas and an experience not…
Pittock Mansion Christmas celebrates the wonderful world of animals with this year’s Critters Make Merry exhibit. From reindeer and polar bears to lions and mice and a few in between, volunteer decorators transform the Mansion’s rooms into enchanting animal havens. Tickets for this year’s event are limited due to capacity restrictions. All tickets must be…
Portland Indigenous Marketplace supports indigenous artists and entrepreneurs by providing barrier-free, culturally respectful spaces that encourage cultural resilience and economic sustainability by promoting public education through cultural arts.
Join us for our awe-inspiring, annual Christmas light display and market at the Oregon Garden Resort. Now named the Silverton Christmas Market, this annual event offers a joyous and magical holiday experience for all ages. Stroll along immersive paths draped in one million lights, while sipping a warm, spicy gluhwein during this beloved, annual event….
Open every Saturday from March–December, Portland Saturday Market is the largest arts-and-crafts fair in the U.S.
Rock band Trans-Siberian Orchestra is bringing their annual holiday tour to Portland on Now 28, 2021. Trans-Siberian Orchestra is BACK celebrating 25 years of Christmas Eve and Other Stories.
The Holiday Ale Festival, set beneath the region’s largest decorated holiday tree, returns every year with more than 50 big, bold beers designed to keep revelers warm on cold winter nights.
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