It’s already December somehow. Though there’s no telling yet if we’re going to have a white Christmas, holiday cheer has already invaded Portland big time. Lights and decorations shine brightly at night, we’re thinking about working on our shopping lists, and the tree is already up at Pioneer Courthouse Square.
This time of year, most of us have a thousand things going on. We have plans to finalize, preparations to make, and the kids not having school for two weeks throws another monkey wrench into the works. The holidays get stressful in a hurry. But it’s important to take the time the stop, appreciate the scent of freshly baked (or store-bought) cookies in the air, and remember what the season is really about.
This is the time of year for family and friends. And with that in mind, we’ve collected some of our favorite Portland-specific ways to get into the holiday mood.
Cut A Christmas Tree
One of the best parts about living in the Northwest is easy access to spectacular nature. This time of year it comes with one of the longest-running holiday traditions: cutting your own Christmas tree. While not as convenient as pre-cut trees, there’s a special bonding moment to be had by packing up the family, heading to a tree farm, and felling a tree of your own.
Christmas in the Garden
With a little something for everyone, Oregon Garden Resort’s Christmas in the Garden is an annual event not to be missed. You have traditional notes, like visits to Santa and a forest stroll lit by more than 600,000 lights. The artisan market hosts local vendors with one-of-a-kind gifts. There are carolers, an ice skating rink if you’re feeling active, and Biergarten if you’re not. There’s even a snowless tubing track that recreates the thrill of hurtling down a snow-covered hillside. Only there’s no risk of face-full of snow!
It just wouldn’t be the holiday season without rubbernecking at Christmas lights. And Portland has a spectacular array to witness. The Portland International Raceway hosts Winter Wonderland, a drive-through attraction that’s the biggest light display this side of the Mississippi. Zoolights at the Oregon Zoo not only offers what the name promises, but features musical performances, dancers, and other entertainment. And not to be outdone, the Victorian Belle mansion transforms the two-and-a-half-acre landmark into the Miracle of a Million Lights. It’s a truly breathtaking sight to behold. A variety of bus tours even offer the whole family the opportunity check out the best neighborhood lights the Rose City has to offer. You can just sit back, let someone else worry about traffic, and take it all in.
What’s better than gazing at Christmas lights? When Christmas lights come to you. Founded back in 1954, the Portland Christmas Ships Parade runs multiple routes on multiple days through December 21st. If you’re willing to brave the potentially wet and chilly environs, the whole family can watch dozens of boats decked out for the season. One of the city’s most enduring traditions, boats from 14 to 60 feet cruise the local waterways spreading holiday cheer.
The Christmas Festival of Lights
Much more than the name implies, The Grotto’s 30th annual Christmas Festival of Lights, offers all of that and beyond. You can find food, beverages, and gifts as you stroll through the outdoor attractions. And with almost 160 concerts scheduled throughout December, it provides the chance to see the region’s best choirs and choral groups. And where better to witness this than in a 600-seat chapel renowned for its acoustics?
Get Your Geek On
Having trouble finding the perfect gift for that special geek on your shopping list? You may want to mark December 16th and 17th on your calendar. For the eighth year in a row, the PDX Browncoats host their Geek the Halls holiday craft fair. With dozens and dozens of vendors, you’re sure to find a one-of-a-kind gift. From unique books and art to nerdy soaps and steampunk knitting, if you can’t track down something memorable here, it may be impossible.
As a thriving city, of course, Portland also has countless other holiday activities to offer. We can’t possibly list them all here. These just represent a few of our favorites. Let us know what you and your family like to do this time of year.
And most importantly, all of us at Goldberg Jones wish you and yours a safe and happy holiday season!