Spending the Holidays in Portland

Portland during the holidays doesn’t get a lot of snow if any. We are deep in the Willamette Valley, where temperatures rarely go outside the 35 – 50 degrees Fahrenheit mark. It does snow once or twice during winter, but during Christmas, it’s rare to have any of the white stuff on the ground. So we make due by laying it on thick other ways in the form of many holiday festivities.


Peacock Lane

Every city has their main residential block where all of the neighbors’ band together and decorates their house with lights for the holidays. Peacock Lane in SE Portland takes the concept and dials it up to 11. They even have their own website! Most of the houses are Tudor-style, giving the entire experience a quaint, old-world Christmas feel. A Portland tradition since the 1940’s!

Peacock Lane Portland

Pioneer Courthouse Square Christmas Tree

Portland’s living room. What better place to put the city’s official Christmas Tree? From Thanksgiving evening, through New Year’s, this humongous Douglas Fir greets everyone within blocks of her towering majestic-ness. Is that even a word?

Pioneer Courthouse Square Christmas Tree

Portland Zoo Lights

A million holiday lights accompany the resident animals in this holiday spectacular, taking place most evenings in December.

Portland Zoo Lights

America’s Largest Christmas Bazaar

What would Christmas be without shopping? (At least for yourself?) But you have to move quickly, this bazaar takes place for only a few days after Thanksgiving.

America's Largest Christmas Bazaar


Christmas Festival of Lights at the Grotto

A small fee will get you into the most spectacular display of holiday festiveness in the city. Visitors are encouraged to bring a can of food for the needy (but it’s not required). This is a grotto, so it is also a place of worship. Take in the Christmas Choir, performing most evenings during the festivities from Thanksgiving up to Christmas Day. Note: The Grotto is closed Christmas day.

Holidays in Portland


Winter Wonderland at Portland International Speedway

Deemed the largest light show in the Northwest. From Thanksgiving through Christmas, drive your car (leisurely, not fast!) through a spectacular light show. Marvel at over 250 colorful light set pieces and fully animated scenes from the comfort of your own mode of transportation.

Holidays in Portland


Mt. Hood Polar Express

For a truly magical experience, head about 2 hours east out of Portland into Hood River, and board a real-life Polar Express. Taken after the awesome children’s movie, this full-service train will whisk you through Hood River Valley while entertaining chefs bring hot cocoa to one and all. Come in your pajamas (for real!), it’s almost a requirement. And get a special gift from Santa.

Polar Express Hood


Holiday Ale Festival

Located next to the gigantic Christmas Tree at Pioneer Courthouse Square, this festival runs for only a few days after Thanksgiving. Sample from around 50 different winter ales, created especially for the event. They cannot be purchased anywhere else, making this a truly unique event for ale lovers.

Holidays in Portland


Christmas Ship Parade

Strutting their stuff along the mighty Columbia and Willamette Rivers, dozens of boats get dressed to the nines in elaborate holiday lights. Check out their website for dates and times, they usually only do this for a couple of nights during the holiday season, but it’s not to be missed.

Holidays in Portland


Those are just a few of the main attractions to be enjoyed in my hometown during the holidays’ Below are a few more ‘honorable mentions’ with their respective websites for more information.

Cosmic Tubing at Mt. Hood Ski Bowl

Jingle Bell Run/Walk

Christmas Revels Show

Crafty Wonderland Holiday Art + Craft Market

Hawthorne Holiday Stroll

Pittock Mansion Holiday Display

Cinnamon Bear Cruise


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Hi, I’m Susan, a travel writer based in Portland, Oregon. THANKS for stopping by my Pacific Northwest travel site! This blog focuses on Pacific Northwest travel, but also is a place showcase all of my travels, and is a great place to start when planning your next vacation to my area of the world. Please e-mail me or leave a comment, I’m here to help!

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