Growing up, many of us had *that* neighbor–the one with the Santa hanging from the gutter, reindeer on the roof, and a light display so brilliant you had to shield your eyes as you walked by. Guys, Portland is like one big *that* neighbor. There are literally millions upon million of lights collectively decorating these venues. They are spectacular, at times oddly peaceful, and filled with kid-friendly activities, too. So put on an extra sweater, grab a mug of hot chocolate, and let’s see some lights!
It wouldn’t be the holidays in Portland without a visit to the Oregon Zoo’s annual winter festival, ZooLights. As you walk around the zoo, you’ll see a dazzling display of a more than million and half lights, and experience your zoo in a whole new light.
When: November 24-January 7, 5 pm-9 pm. No zoo lights December 24-25 and January 1-4. Hours run 5 pm-8 pm on value nights.
Cost: Regular admission is $14.95 for adults ages 12-24; $12.95 for seniors; $9.95 ages 3-11, free ages 0-2. Receive $5 off with proof of Trimet fare. Certain discount nights reduce admission by $5, with $1.50 off with proof of Trimet fare.
Where: 4001 SW Canyon. 503-226-1561.
Aspen Meadow Lights
Each year, the Aspen Meadow light show has a different theme. This year, it’s “The Greatest is Love,” with the grounds designed to reflect the theme. Check out over 150,000 lights, carolers, an interactive children’s area, a miniature train village, videos, refreshments and more. Our lights display is free of charge — if you would like to bring a canned food donation to give to the Oregon Food Bank, there are donation barrels on site.
When: December 9-26; 5 pm-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 5 pm-11 pm Friday-Sunday.
Where: 24232 S. Upper Highland Road, Colton OR 97017. 503-784-7596
Christmas Fantasy Trail
Take a Christmas walk through a lighted, wooded “Fantasy Trail,” decorated with thousands of lights for your Christmas enchantment. You can also walk through a 40-foot castle with Christmas scenes, a tunnel, maze, crooked house, suspension bridge and more. Plus, a bonfire nightly!
When: December 2-30, 6 pm-9 pm. Closed December 24 and 25.
Cost: $6 adult, $5 ages 12 and under (cash only)
Where: Wenzel Farm, 19754 South Ridge, Oregon City. 503-631-2047
Christmas in the Garden
There’s so much family-friendly fun at this annual light display, including ice skating, a holiday market, live music, food, fire pits, Santa visits, a snowless tubing track and more. Check out their schedule for more details on what’s going on each day.
When: November 24-December 31 (closed December 24 and 25), 5 pm-9 pm. Check out their schedule for specific hours.
Cost: Pre-purchase admission tickets for $8 for adults, $5 kids ages 5-12. Activity prices vary. Parking is an addition $5.
Where: 879 W Main, Silverton. 503-874-8100
The Christmas Ship Parade started in 1954 with one lone sailboat. Today, The Christmas Ship Fleet averages about 55 to 60 boats between the Columbia and Willamette River fleets, with brightly lit displays that can be seen from bank to bank on each river.
When: Parade starts between 5 pm and 7 pm nightly, December 1-21 (no parade December 3,4,5,11,12 or 18). Check their website for a detailed schedule and recommended public viewing spots.
Grotto Festival of Lights
The Christmas Festival of Lights is the largest choral festival in the world, with out 160 indoor holiday concerts. Family entertainment includes outdoor carolers, puppet shows, live animals and–of course–hot chocolate.
When: November 24-December 30, 5 pm-9:30 pm. Closed Christmas.
Cost: $11 for adults, $10 for seniors. $6 ages 3-12, free ages 0-2.
Where: NE 85th & Sandy. 503-261-2400
As always, this charming little street will be decked out in its shimmering finest. Avoid the vehicle congestion by parking a few blocks away and walking down the lane, but please be respectful of the neighbors.
When: 6 pm-11 pm December 15-31. Pedestrian-only nights TBA.
Where: SE Peacock Lane between Stark & Belmont
PIR Winter Wonderland
Described as the “largest holiday light show west of the Mississippi,” this is a great one for chilly days because you drive through it in your car! View over 250 colorful light set pieces and fully animated scenes from the toasty inside of your vehicle. Don’t have a car? You can bike the route on November 29th or walk it on December 6th.
When: November 24-December 26. Fridays and Saturdays 5 pm-11 pm; Sundays-Thursdays 5:30 pm-9:30 pm. Closed November 27. Open December 24 5 pm-11 pm and December 25 from 5:30 pm-9:30 pm.
Tuesday, November 28 is “bike the lights” night – $6, no cars.
Tuesday December 5 is “Lights and Leashes” night – $6, no cars. Thursday, December 7 is over 21 only.
Cost: $20-$22 per car. Additional costs for larger vehicles.
Where: Portland International Raceway, 1940 N Victory. 503-232-3000
Enjoy the wonders of the season at Pittock Mansion’s annual holiday display, a Portland tradition for over 50 years. This year, experience the iconic places, people, and events of Portland—like Powell’s Books, Packy the elephant, and Peacock Lane—as they are incorporated into the decorative stylings of volunteers and professional designers who transform the Mansion into a holiday wonderland. Local musicians will play holiday music regularly in the mansion’s Music Room during the exhibit.
When: November 20-December 31, 11 am-1:30 pm and 2 pm-4 pm. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Cost: $11 adults, $10 seniors $8 ages 6-18, free ages 0-6.
Where: 3229 NW Pittock. 503-823-3623
Victorian Belle Miracle of a Million Lights
The historical Victorian Belle mansion and its 2.5 acre plot in North Portland is decked out with a million lights, 10 uniquely-decorated Christmas trees, themed rooms and decorations. You’ll also find a full railroad train display and chocolate and s’mores with Rudolph. Santa will be on site for family photos as well.
When: December 9-23, 6 pm-10 pm nightly.
Cost: $8 adults, $5 seniors and $4 children ages 4-17, free under 3. Bring in a canned food item for $1 off.
Where: 1441 McClellan ST., Portland, OR 97217. 503-970-0213
What’s your favorite light display of the holidays? Let us know below!