Holiday events guide 2021: Lights, shows and other festivities are back in Oregon

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The holiday season is upon us and this year marks the return of festivities around Oregon, from traditional tree lightings to beloved light displays and live performances.

It’s refreshing to see some return to normal a year after the COVID-19 pandemic cut back or canceled most holiday events. Still, not every holiday tradition is back for 2021. Notable cancellations include the Holiday Ale Festival in Portland and the Holiday Lights at Shore Acres on the southern coast. Peacock Lane, one of the best loved light displays in Oregon, has yet to make an announcement either way.

However, those hoping to get into the holiday spirit will still have plenty of ways to do it. Whether you want to take a ride on a holiday train or catch a performance of “The Nutracker,” there’s bound to be an event for you.

Find one in this year’s holiday events guide for Oregon.

ZooLights drive

The Oregon Zoo has turned its annual light display, ZooLights, into a drive-through experience for 2020, complying with public health precautions amid the coronavirus pandemic.Courtesy of Oregon Zoo

Holiday light displays that will illuminate Oregon in 2021

Big light displays are among the most popular holiday events in Oregon, brightening up the darkest days of the year with millions of colorful, twinkling lights. Some events require face masks, while others offer drive-through options for those who want to stay in the safety (and warmth) of their vehicles.

Tuba Christmas

A whopping 282 tubists and other big brass players converge on Pioneer Courthouse Square for the 25th Tuba Christmas concert in Portland on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015.Jamie Hale/The Oregonian

Favorite Oregon holiday events return for 2021, from Joseph to Portland to Seaside

Some of Oregon’s favorite holiday events are back this year, including Tuba Christmas, the Seaside Parade of Lights and Jingle Thru Joseph. State health officials are still urging Oregonians to wear face masks at indoor events and large outdoor gatherings – which doubles as a way to keep your face warm in the cold.

A dancer plays a marionette as an actor plays a puppeteer behind her, pulling strings

“The Hip-Hop Nutcracker” returns to Portland for its seventh season on tour.Timothy Norris/Hip-Hop Nutcracker

Cue the candy canes: Holiday shows return to Portland stages for 2021

With performances of “The Nutcracker,” “A John Waters Christmas” and everything in between, Portland stages are once again bursting with holiday-themed shows. Keep in mind that masks will be required at in-person performances, and many venues will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.

symphony orchestra on stage

Oregon Symphony play Handel’s “Messiah” (Courtesy of Oregon Symphony)

Catch the holiday spirit with these live music events in Portland

Nothing quite evokes the winter holidays like music, and what is better than experiencing those familiar songs and feelings than with other people? That humming togetherness is back this year, and we may never take it for granted again. Expect concerts from Storm Large, the Oregon Symphony, Portland Gay Men’s Chorus and many more.

Holiday Express Train

Round-trip steam-train rides on the Holiday Express Train leave from Oaks Park and run along the Willamette River.Oregonian File Photo

Holiday train rides return to Oregon railroads for 2021 season

Holiday trains are back on track at historic railroads around Oregon and southwest Washington, offering family-friendly holiday entertainment that almost always includes cookies, cider and a visit from Santa. Train operators are abiding by Oregon public health mandates around the COVID-19 pandemic, which currently require face masks for passengers.

–Jamie Hale; jhale@oregonian.com; 503-294-4077; @HaleJamesB





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