Portland Holiday Events | The Official Guide to Portland

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Revel in the city’s holiday spirit with these events and activities.


3 min read

Visiting Portland for the holidays? From Thanksgiving through year’s end, Portland offers an abundance of celebrations, from the traditional to the unexpected.

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.

High in the West Hills, the Pittock Mansion offers picture-perfect views of the city and interesting insights into Portland’s history.

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.

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.

Portland is full of bright ways to embrace the shorter days of winter; here are some of the stars in the city’s constellation of holiday light displays.

Holiday Music

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  Comfort and Joy, a concert of classical Christmas music presented by the Oregon Symphony, or Handel’s Messiah, presented by the PSU Chamber Choir and the Oregon Symphony.

Classical music in Portland isn’t just the classics. Classical musicians offer new and innovative works, and an ongoing lineup of inspiring performances, from timeless works to modern interpretations.

Holiday Shopping

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.

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.

Do your holiday shopping for locally made gifts at hip parties, makers’ fairs, sprawling sales and garden grounds filled with handcrafted items.



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