Fun Christmas Events in Portland Oregon

Christmas Tree in front of Pioneer Courthouse in Portland, OR
••• Christmas Tree in front of Pioneer Courthouse in Portland, OR. Danita Delimont / Getty Images

There are many fun things to do in Portland during the Christmas season, including holiday light displays, community events, and Christmas music of all kinds. Here are my recommendations for fun Christmas events in and around Portland.

  • 01 of 08

    This annual tree lighting ceremony kicks off each Christmas season in Portland. The family-friendly event, which includes the lighting of the huge outdoor Christmas tree as well as a fun holiday sing-a-long, will be held the day after Thanksgiving at Portland's Courthouse Square.

  • 02 of 08

    Zoolights at the Oregon Zoo

    Every holiday season the Oregon Zoo becomes a Christmas wonderland of colorful lights and decorations. On scheduled evenings you and your family can stroll the zoo paths, encountering holiday- and animal-themed displays of light and motion. Live music, hot chocolate and treats, and holiday performers add to the festive atmosphere.

  • 03 of 08
    Portland's Christmas Ship Parade is an annual event on the Columbia and Willamette rivers. The parade includes an average of 50-60 boats, decked out in holiday lights, each night. The Portland Christmas Ship Parade can be viewed from a number of different public parks, bridges, and other locations. Check out their web site to get the parade schedule and to find out where to view or how to participate.
  • 04 of 08

    Holiday-themed Theater in Portland

    You can choose from a number of holiday-themed plays and musicals that appear at Portland theaters, often running for several weeks during the season.

    • The Santaland Diaries
      Modern take on Christmas based on Sedaris book.
      Ellen Bye Studio at the Armory (from Nov 26 through Dec 24, 2016)
    • Plaid Tidings
      A nostalgic, musical Christmas experience. Playing at the Brunish Theatre December 1 through the 24, 2016.
    • Portland's Singing Christmas Tree
      Huge choir singing and dancing everyone's holiday favorites.
      Keller Auditorium Nov 25 to Dec 4, 2016
    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08
    The Grotto, a 62-acre Catholic Shrine and botanical garden in Portland, puts on a fantastic and moving Christmas Festival of Lights each year. This accessible, walk-through event includes a variety of family-friendly experiences. In addition to spectacular outdoor lighting displays, visitors can enjoy indoor holiday music concerts, puppet shows, carolers, holiday snack and beverages, and a petting zoo.
  • 06 of 08
    Winter Wonderland is held at the Portland International Raceway each Christmas season. You'll be able to remain warm and cozy in your vehicle as you drive through a light show that includes over 250 colorful displays and 40 fully-animated scenes.
  • 07 of 08
    Performances of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker has become a popular annual event at Oregon Ballet Theatre. Shows are scheduled throughout the month of December.
  • 08 of 08

    More Ways to Celebrate the Christmas Holiday Season in Portland

    Visit Portland's Pittock Mansion - Each of the Pittock Mansion's 23 rooms will be decorated for the holidays, with a different theme each years.

    Posada Milagro at El Centro Milagro - A free Christmas celebration with theatre, music, dance, and traditional foods for the whole family, with perishable food donations accepted for the Oregon Food Bank.

    Choose and cut your own Christmas tree at an Oregon Christmas tree farm.