Finally, that special time of year has come! You must be feeling the overwhelming need to look at an assortment of lights. Well, you are in luck: Portland has a wide variety of holiday light displays to choose from. So instead of driving slowly down streets you don’t live on and risking the wrath of neighborhood watchmen, try one of these tested Portland traditions.
When: Nov. 28—Dec. 25
(For scheduled hours visit www.portlandraceway.com)
Where: Portland International Raceway
1940 N. Victory Blvd., Portland, Ore. 97217
The Portland International Raceway invites you to take a trip through the largest drive-through light display in the Northwest. For your listening pleasure a radio station fashioned specially for the drive is also available so that you can
really get into the holiday spirit. Prices vary depending on what is going on at the track, so check the website for more information about this. If you are not into a drive-through holiday be sure to check out PIR’s dog walk and other holiday events.
Christmas Ship Parade
When: Dec. 6–21
Where: The Columbia and Willamette Rivers
(Visit www.christmasships.org for full schedule and
For 59 years two fleets of ships have paraded up and down the Columbia and Willamette rivers decorated in full Christmas fashion to the delight of onlookers. Between 55 and 60 ships between each fleet will be lit up and ready to be viewed from many places along the rivers or a variety of restaurants and hotels along the route. This is a great opportunity to view Christmas lights for free and to be able to stay in one spot while they come to you.
Director Park Menorah Lighting
When: Nov. 28
Where: Director Park
815 S.W. Park Ave., Portland, Ore. 97205
What about Hanukkah, right? Well, Director Park is a great place to celebrate the season with a menorah lighting ceremony that has been a tradition for 30 years. The lighting will take place around 5:30 p.m. and will be facilitated by the Chabad of Oregon and Jewish Family and Child Services in association with the Oregon Food Bank. Canned food donations will also be collected at the lighting for the Oregon Food Bank to help feed families in need for the holidays. This event is free of charge and anyone is welcome to attend.
The Miracle of a Million Lights
When: Visit the Queen Anne Victorian Mansion on Facebook for a full schedule.
Where: 1441 N. McClellan St., Portland, Ore. 97217
Every year the Queen Anne Victorian Mansion in North Portland celebrates the holiday season with the “Miracle of a Million Lights,” an event that invites visitors to tour the 2.5-acre grounds and enjoy the festive atmosphere. The mansion itself will be open for tours as well, and a cafe featuring holiday treats will be running during tour hours. Tours of the grounds and mansion are $6 for adults and $3 for students and seniors. Children under the age of 5 will be admitted free of charge.
When: Dec. 15—31 (Times vary, visit www.peacocklane.net for more scheduling information.)
Where: Between SE Stark St. and SE Belmont St. and one block east of SE 39th.
Since the 1920s the residents of Peacock Lane have been coming together to decorate their houses in spectacular holiday fashion. Take a walk down the street and take in the sights, and be sure to grab some free hot chocolate from one of the stands along the way. Certain days allow vehicles while others are for pedestrians only. Be sure to check the website for more information about this and to find out how you can rent a horse-drawn carriage for your visit. Peacock Lane is always free, and everyone is welcome.
Pioneer Square Tree Lighting
When: Nov. 29
Where: Pioneer Courthouse Square
701 S.W. 6th Ave., Portland, Ore. 97204
Thousands of Portlanders flock to Pioneer Square every year to be a part of the tree-lighting ceremony. The celebration begins with a holiday sing-along featuring Thomas
Lauderdale with members of Pink Martini, “Oregon’s Own” 234th Army Band, the Pacific Youth Choir and many more special guests. It will conclude with the lighting of the
75-foot tree. This event is free and open to people of all ages, but be sure to get there a little bit early. It can get extremely crowded extremely quickly. If you want to avoid the crowds, the tree will be up in the square and lit up nightly through the season.
Christmas Festival of Lights
When: Nov. 29–Dec. 30
Where: The Grotto
8840 N.E. Skidmore St., Portland, Ore. 97220
If Christmas is your thing, the Grotto is a great place to start your tour of holiday light displays. The grounds are made up of beautiful garden features that are decorated with over 500,000 lights to provide a dazzling walk-through experience. Visitors can also expect to see choral performances, a petting zoo, carolers and puppet shows. Delicious holiday food and drink options will also be available, as will access to the Grotto’s chapel, where five indoor concerts will take place each night. Admission is $9 per adult, $8 for those 65 and older and $4 for children ages 3–12. Children 2 years of age and under can enjoy the festivities free of charge.
When: Nov. 29—Jan. 5
5—8 p.m. Sunday—Thursdays
5—8:30 p.m. Friday—Saturday
Where: The Oregon Zoo
4001 S.W. Canyon Rd., Portland, Ore. 97221
The Oregon Zoo has been celebrating the holidays with zoo lights for years, making this event a true Portland tradition. This year, however, the tradition will be altered slightly due to the temporary shutdown of the zoo train for route alterations. Instead of taking a ride through the zoo, visitors are allowed to walk the grounds through more light displays than ever before and to stop in at the Cascade Grill to try the special holiday menu or pick up some hot chocolate for the walk. Admission is $10 for adults, $8.50 for seniors (age 65 and over) and $7 for anyone between the ages of 3 and 11. Children 2 years of age and younger will be admitted for free.