Everything You Need to Do in Portland This Holiday Season

Published On 11/22/2017 Published On 11/22/2017
Portland Festival of Lights
Portland Festival of Lights | Victoria Ditkovsky/
Friday - Thursday
Nov 24-Dec 14
Pioneer Place
Man bun? Check. Authentic Pendleton Big Lebowski sweater? Check. Throne decked out with the PDX airport carpet pattern? Duh. This is Portland, and we take hipsterism very seriously here, which is why Pioneer Place employs a guy who looks like a lifelong Stumptown barista to play Santa every Thursday until mid-December.
Cost: Free; reservations are encouraged, but not required
Nov 24
Pioneer Courthouse Square
Gather ‘round and feast your eyes on thousands of LED bulbs as they flicker to life in “Portland’s living room” while various food carts and vendors supplement the face-melting festival of lights.
Cost: Free, but bring cash for the array of food carts
Saturday - Sunday
Nov 25-Jan 1
Oregon Zoo
Marvel at the Oregon Zoo all decked out in millions of LED lights while the animals are away for the winter. It’s bright and shiny family fun... that’s much less smelly to boot.
Cost: $9.95 for kids 3-11, $12.95 for seniors 65+, $14.95 for adults
Wednesday - Sunday
Nov 29-Dec 3
Pioneer Courthouse Square
Revel in an extended weekend of malty, spicy ales under a gigantic Christmas tree at the Holiday Ale Festival. It’s that one time of year when drinking beer all gussied up with fig, clove, cinnamon, and a variety of other ingredients made popular by Bath and Body Works is acceptable. So definitely enjoy it while you can.
Cost: $35 for general admission, $100 for VIP
Friday - Sunday
Nov 24-26
Various Willamette Valley Wineries
Leave it to Oregon’s Willamette Valley -- an idyllic expanse of vineyards and family estates about 30 miles southwest of Portland proper -- to offer something fermented and fruity for all tastes and budgets. A designated driver is a must, so conscript your kinda weird uncle Lloyd into driving everyone down there for the weekend to argue about sports and politics in someone else’s yard for a change.
Cost: It’s free to drive around Yamhill County, but we recommend buying a sober friend lunch in exchange for a ride
Friday - Sunday
Nov 24-Dec 3
Keller Auditorium
No, this isn’t the umpteenth deviation from the Human Centipede franchise -- just a jolly old evening of holiday classics sung by dancing Santas and an adult glee choir that just so happens to be arranged like a giant Christmas tree.
Cost: $20-$60
Friday - Sunday
Nov 24-Dec 3
Portland Expo Center
Still decorating your digs with discounted post-season purchases from TJ Maxx and Ross? Step your game up. There’s dignity in doing it right, and the easiest way to snag some proper trimmings for your home is at the Christmas Bazaar, an epic one-stop holiday shopping experience at the Portland Expo Center. Show up for the tinsel; leave with a keg of nog. It’s a win-win.
Cost: $8 for adults, $3 for children 12-17, free for children under 12
Friday - Monday
Nov 24-Jan 1
Hood River
You now have an excuse to drive the family an hour east to board a train that transports travelers from the Columbia River Gorge’s foremost drinking town, through the winter wonderland of Mount Hood’s northern slope, and up to Parkdale. It’s the closest thing we’ll ever get to a Polar Express experience, only this one involves craft breweries at both ends of the journey if you so choose to include them. On second thought, maybe leave the kids behind.
Cost: $37-$65 for children 2-12, $47-85 for adults, depending on cabin selection
Friday - Saturday
Nov 24-Dec 30
The Grotto
Though it’s technically a Catholic sanctuary that famously disallowed Portland Public Schools choirs from singing secular holiday songs during its annual Christmas Festival of Lights, it’s still a magical experience regardless of your religious affiliation or lack thereof. Just pretend you’re at a wedding and ignore the proceedings like you always do, right?
Cost: $6 for children 3-12, $10 for seniors 65+ and military, $11 for adults
Friday - Sunday
Nov 24-Dec 31
Oregon Garden (Silverton)
Head down to the Oregon Garden in Silverton for ice skating, artisanal holiday goods, Christmas karaoke and enough mulled wine and beer from Salem’s Gilgamesh Brewing to make it fun.
Cost: $3-$45 depending on activities
Tuesday - Wednesday
Nov 28-29
Center For Health & Healing At OHSU
Now’s your chance to actually try on that $50 enamel avocado-shaped pendant necklace in real life instead of hoping it looks in person as it did online, and it’s all for a good cause (10% of proceeds go to the Center of Developmental Health).
Cost: Free
Friday - Saturday
Nov 3-Dec 9
Alberta Rose Theater
It’s shocking Cirque du Soleil didn’t think of adapting the Beatles’ eponymous 1968 masterpiece into a Christmas extravaganza featuring jugglers, aerialists, and bespoke clowns prior to a local circus troupe, so you better go see it in a small-ish theater for less than $100 a ticket while you still can.
Cost: $32.50-$50
Wonder Ballroom
Wonder Ballroom | Flickr/Nathan Forsheim
Friday - Saturday
Dec 1-2
Oregon Convention Center
Here’s a prime opportunity for those of us bound to 200-square-foot studios and stricken with seasonal foliage-induced FOMO to marvel at the Christmas trees of folks with much more time and money than we’ll ever have.
Cost: $8 for children 3-12, $9 for seniors 65+, $10 for adults
Friday - Tuesday
Nov 24-Dec 26
Portland International Raceway
Ever wanted to take your tricked out Jetta on the Portland International Raceway and experience the thrill of watching chumps eat your dust? Well, this is not that occasion, but it is a chance to slow-roll through the track and watch some pretty cool holiday lights whizz by at about 10 mph.
Cost: $18-$50 depending on vehicle capacity
Dec 2
Paul Bunyan statue near the Kenton/N Denver Avenue MAX Station
It’s unclear how NoPDXAnticon is an actual alternative to SantaCon... especially when it sounds dubiously similar to the cheeky and boozy yearly event. But organizers are encouraging participants to donate toys to nearby dive Kenton Station’s annual holiday toy drive, so there’s something to feel good about besides the obvious belly full of booze.
Cost: Free, but you should donate a canned good and pay for your MAX ticket like the upstanding citizen you are
Dec 9
Gluten intolerance is a cruel mistress year-round, but it’s especially unfair throughout the holidays when all those malty winter beers are off limits. Thank EastBurn for putting forth the effort to include the hop adverse and gluten intolerant in their seasonal processions, which hopes to shake up some holiday cheer for Toys for Tots.
Cost: $10
Dec 9
Melody Ballroom
With a docket consisting of synth pop and various aerial and dark circus performances, Vespertine Winter Ball is essentially Festivus for goth kids who have just one day of the year when donning all white is actually encouraged.
Cost: $40 advance, $45 day of
Saturday - Sunday
Dec 9-10
Oregon Convention Center
In the market for the twee-est of twee Portland- and PNW-made gifts for friends and loved ones this year? Crafty Wonderland Holiday Market has you totally covered.
Cost: Free
Dec 16
Various locations
Not quite as epic as it’s infamous NY-based brethren, Portland’s SantaCon is still one hell of a fine excuse to throw on a Santa suit, get tipsy and dance your weekend away at a handful of Pearl District and Old Town bars and clubs.
Cost: $10 (but bring more money for drinks)
Saturday - Sunday
Dec 30-31
Wonder Ballroom
OK, so STRFKR technically bid Portland adieu a few years ago after their most obnoxiously unforgettable song was placed in a Target commercial, and their quirky electro-pop became the default setting for coffee shop Pandora stations across the nation, but we still love ‘em enough to marvel at their delightfully gaudy neon-glazed live show for two straight nights.
Cost: $30 advance, $35 day of