Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Envi News & Stories

Best Christmas Activities in Portland, Oregon

Envi Adventures Portland Air Tours

Best Christmas Activities in Portland, Oregon

Discover the holiday spirit in the vibrant city of Portland, Oregon with our guide to the best Christmas activities. This Pacific Northwest gem offers a plethora of festive events and attractions that are sure to delight visitors of all ages.

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonies in Portland

One of the most iconic traditions of the holiday season is the lighting of the Christmas tree. In Portland, you’ll find several tree lighting ceremonies that are guaranteed to fill you with joy and wonder.

The largest and most famous tree lighting event in the city takes place at Pioneer Courthouse Square. Every year, thousands of people gather to witness the lighting of the enormous tree, which stands tall in the heart of downtown Portland. The square transforms into a winter wonderland, with twinkling lights, festive decorations, and a bustling holiday market. The atmosphere is electric as families and friends come together to celebrate the start of the holiday season.

Another popular tree lighting ceremony takes place at Director Park. This intimate gathering features live music, hot cocoa, and the lighting of a beautiful tree adorned with colorful lights. It’s the perfect event for those seeking a more cozy and intimate holiday experience.

For a truly unique tree lighting experience, head to the Oregon Zoo. Each year, the zoo hosts its own tree lighting ceremony as part of the beloved ZooLights event. As you wander through the zoo’s enchanting grounds, you’ll encounter dazzling light displays, animated animal sculptures, and even the chance to meet Santa Claus himself.

Visiting the Portland Winter Light Festival

If you’re looking for a truly magical experience, don’t miss the Portland Winter Light Festival. This annual event showcases the beauty of light through captivating installations, performances, and activities spread across the city.

The festival takes place in various locations throughout Portland, with the aim of transforming public spaces into immersive works of art. From glowing sculptures to interactive light displays, each installation is designed to captivate and inspire. You’ll find yourself transported to a world of wonder as you explore the festival’s offerings.

In addition to the mesmerizing light displays, the Portland Winter Light Festival also features live performances, art installations, and even workshops where you can learn about the art of light. It’s a truly unique way to celebrate the holiday season and immerse yourself in the creative spirit of Portland.

Ice Skating in Portland During the Holiday Season

There’s something undeniably magical about gliding across the ice, surrounded by twinkling lights and the festive ambiance of the holiday season. Luckily, Portland offers several ice skating rinks that are perfect for indulging in this timeless activity.

One of the most popular ice skating destinations in the city is the Winter Village at Pioneer Courthouse Square. This charming outdoor rink transforms the square into a winter wonderland, complete with twinkling lights, cozy fire pits, and a festive holiday market. Whether you’re a seasoned skater or a beginner, the Winter Village provides the perfect setting for a memorable ice skating experience.

Another great option is the Lloyd Center Ice Rink, located in the heart of the Lloyd District. This indoor rink offers public skating sessions, as well as skate rentals for those who don’t have their own. With its spacious ice surface and lively atmosphere, the Lloyd Center Ice Rink is a popular choice for families and friends looking to have some fun on the ice.

For a more unique ice skating experience, head to the Oaks Park Roller Skating Rink. During the holiday season, the rink is transformed into an ice skating rink, complete with synthetic ice. This eco-friendly alternative to traditional ice allows visitors to enjoy the thrill of ice skating in a more sustainable way.

These are just a few of the ice skating options available in Portland during the holiday season. Whether you prefer an outdoor rink or an indoor facility, you’re sure to find the perfect spot to lace up your skates and create unforgettable memories.

Exploring the Holiday Markets in Portland

No holiday season is complete without some festive shopping. Luckily, Portland is home to several holiday markets where you can find unique gifts, handcrafted goods, and delicious treats.

One of the most renowned holiday markets in the city is the Portland Saturday Market’s Festival of the Last Minute. Held in the weeks leading up to Christmas, this market showcases the work of local artisans, makers, and craftspeople. From handmade jewelry to one-of-a-kind artwork, you’re sure to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. The market also features live music, food vendors, and a lively atmosphere that’s guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit.

For a more intimate shopping experience, head to the Crafty Wonderland Holiday Art + Craft Market. This curated market brings together a diverse range of artists and makers, offering a wide selection of unique and high-quality goods. Whether you’re looking for handmade clothing, ceramics, or gourmet treats, you’ll find it all at this beloved holiday market.

In addition to these larger markets, Portland is also home to a variety of neighborhood holiday markets and pop-up shops. These smaller-scale events often feature local artists and makers, providing an opportunity to support the community while finding truly special gifts.

Attending Christmas Concerts and Performances in Portland

Immerse yourself in the sounds of the season by attending a Christmas concert or performance in Portland. From classical symphonies to festive musicals, the city offers a wide range of options for music lovers of all tastes.

The Oregon Symphony is a must-see during the holiday season. Each year, the symphony presents a series of concerts featuring beloved holiday classics. From Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” to Handel’s “Messiah,” these performances are sure to leave you feeling uplifted and filled with the holiday spirit.

For a more contemporary take on holiday music, check out one of the many Christmas concerts held at local venues and theaters. Artists and bands from various genres come together to perform festive renditions of popular songs, creating a joyful and energetic atmosphere.

In addition to live music, Portland also offers a variety of holiday-themed theatrical performances. From classic plays like “A Christmas Carol” to original productions inspired by the season, these performances are a great way to experience the magic of Christmas through storytelling and art.

Festive Holiday Events and Parades in Portland

No Christmas season is complete without attending a festive event or parade. Luckily, Portland hosts several of these joyful celebrations throughout the holiday season.

One of the most beloved events is the Christmas Ship Parade. This unique tradition involves a fleet of beautifully decorated boats sailing along the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. As you watch the parade from the riverbank or from one of the designated viewing locations, you’ll be treated to the sight of shimmering lights reflecting off the water, while carolers on board the boats serenade you with holiday tunes. It’s a truly magical experience that captures the essence of the holiday season in Portland.

For a more traditional parade experience, don’t miss the Providence Festival of Trees. This annual event features a grand procession of elaborately decorated Christmas trees, each one representing a different theme or concept. As you stroll through the displays, you’ll be transported to a world of whimsy and wonder, surrounded by the beauty and creativity of the holiday season.

In addition to these larger events, Portland also hosts a variety of neighborhood parades and festivals throughout the holiday season. These smaller-scale celebrations offer a more intimate and community-oriented experience, with local businesses, schools, and organizations coming together to spread holiday cheer.

Christmas-Themed Hikes and Outdoor Activities in Portland

If you’re looking to combine the beauty of nature with the magic of Christmas, Portland offers plenty of outdoor activities that are sure to delight.

One popular option is to embark on a Christmas-themed hike in one of the city’s many scenic parks and natural areas. Put on your hiking boots, bundle up, and explore the trails adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations. Many parks also offer guided hikes or special events during the holiday season, providing a unique opportunity to learn about the local flora and fauna while enjoying the holiday spirit.

For a more leisurely outdoor activity, consider visiting one of Portland’s botanical gardens. The Oregon Garden, in particular, is known for its stunning holiday light displays. As you wander through the gardens, you’ll encounter illuminated trees, sparkling pathways, and even a charming Christmas village. It’s a truly enchanting experience that’s bound to leave you feeling inspired and uplifted.

If you’re looking for a more adventurous outdoor activity, head to one of the nearby ski resorts. Mount Hood Meadows and Timberline Lodge offer a range of winter sports activities, including skiing, snowboarding, and tubing. With their picturesque slopes and festive atmosphere, these resorts provide the perfect backdrop for a memorable Christmas adventure.

Indulging in Holiday Treats and Dining Experiences in Portland

No Christmas season is complete without indulging in delicious holiday treats and dining experiences. Luckily, Portland is home to a vibrant culinary scene that offers a wide range of options for food lovers.

One of the most beloved holiday treats in Portland is the peppermint hot chocolate from Salt & Straw. This local ice cream shop serves up a decadent and refreshing twist on the classic hot chocolate, with the addition of peppermint-infused ice cream. It’s the perfect indulgence on a cold winter day.

For a more traditional holiday treat, head to one of Portland’s artisanal bakeries. From gingerbread cookies to yule logs, you’ll find a wide variety of festive sweets that are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. Don’t forget to pair your treats with a warm cup of spiced cider or mulled wine for the ultimate holiday experience.

If you’re looking for a memorable dining experience, consider booking a table at one of Portland’s renowned restaurants. Many establishments offer special holiday menus that feature seasonal ingredients and festive flavors. Whether you’re in the mood for a traditional Christmas feast or a creative twist on holiday favorites, you’re sure to find a restaurant that suits your taste.

Recommendations for the Best Christmas Activities in Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon is a city that truly knows how to celebrate the holiday season. From enchanting light displays to festive events and activities, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

To make the most of your visit, be sure to check out the Christmas tree lighting ceremonies at Pioneer Courthouse Square and Director Park. Don’t miss the Portland Winter Light Festival, where you can immerse yourself in the beauty of light installations and performances. If you’re a fan of ice skating, be sure to visit the Winter Village at Pioneer Courthouse Square or the Lloyd Center Ice Rink.

For those who love to shop, the Portland Saturday Market’s Festival of the Last Minute and Crafty Wonderland Holiday Art + Craft Market are must-visit destinations. If you’re a music lover, be sure to attend a Christmas concert or performance, such as those offered by the Oregon Symphony. And don’t forget to join in the festive fun at the Christmas Ship Parade or the Providence Festival of Trees.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Christmas-themed hikes and visits to botanical gardens are highly recommended. And of course, no visit to Portland during the holiday season is complete without indulging in holiday treats and dining experiences at local establishments.

No matter how you choose to celebrate, Portland offers a wealth of Christmas activities that are bound to create lasting memories for you and your loved ones. Embrace the holiday spirit, immerse yourself in the magic of the season, and create your own Portland holiday traditions.