Nothing feels quite as festive as watching the family tree light up after the last ornament has been hung. If your littles beam every time you flip that switch, treat your family to the most quintessential of holiday activities—sipping hot chocolate and singing Christmas carols at one of these community tree-lighting ceremonies in and around Portland.
photo: U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud via flick
Pioneer Courthouse Square Tree Lighting
Cap a whirlwind day of Black Friday shopping by spending the evening in Pioneer Courthouse Square, the site of Portland’s most well-known and beloved Christmas tree. The Stimson Lumber Company will provide the 75-foot tree—while the thousands of attendees at the lighting ceremony will make this day-after-Thanksgiving tradition all the more festive.
Nov. 25, 5 p.m.
Pioneer Courthouse Square
701 SW 6th Ave.
Vancouver Rotary Foundation Festival of Trees Lighting
Celebrating its 21st year in 2016, the Vancouver Rotary Foundation Festival of Trees is a Thanksgiving weekend tradition known for its live concerts, dance performances and community atmosphere. Your kids will delight in the scavenger hunt through the trees, the rides on the Loci train engine and the ever-popular talking tree. And the tree lighting itself features a concert by the Vancouver Pops Orchestra, a visit from Santa’s elves and even an appearance by the big man himself.
Nov. 25, 5:15 p.m.
Esther Short Park
605 Esther St.
Lake Oswego Tree Lighting
You’ll sing Christmas carols and listen to performances by the Millennium Concert Band at the annual tree lighting ceremony in downtown Lake Oswego. But best of all, this tree lighting is actually two events in one, with one ceremony at Bigelow Plaza and a parade procession to a second tree lighting at Millennium Park. Santa has been known to make an appearance as well, with a little assist from the Lake Oswego Fire Department.
Nov. 25, 5:30 p.m.
5th Street and A Avenue
photo: U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud via flickr
Hillsboro Holly Days and Tree Lighting
Spend a leisurely Saturday at the winter marketplace in downtown Hillsboro sipping hot chocolate and nibbling on cookies provided by local businesses. You’ll find crafts made by local artisans, fresh winter produce and live music and entertainment—all of which will culminate in the spectacular tree lighting ceremony in the early evening.
Nov. 26, 1 p.m. (tree lighting is at 5:30 p.m.)
Tom Hughes Civic Center Plaza
150 E Main St.
Gresham Spirit of Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting
Cookie decorating, open houses at local businesses and phone calls to the North Pole are all part of the Spirit of Christmas, a day-long Thanksgiving weekend event in historic downtown Gresham. Now in its 25th year, this community gathering includes Santa’s Parade through town, photos with the man himself, live music performances and the lighting of a 60-foot Ponderosa pine in the center of Arts Plaza.
Nov. 26, 2 p.m. (parade begins at 4:50 p.m., tree lighting begins at 5 p.m.)
Gresham Center for the Arts Plaza
488 NE 3rd St.
Beaverton German Holiday Market, Open House and Tree Lighting
The tree lighting is just one of many events that will take place at Beaverton City Library and City Park on December 2, a day entirely devoted to creating holiday cheer. Begin the morning with traditional food, crafts, wine, beer and live music at the German Holiday Market and end it with a walk through the Open House. Not only will you join Mayor Denny Doyle for the tree lighting—you’ll enjoy performances by Beaverton’s Staff Choir and Community Band and catch a glimpse of Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Dec. 2, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. (open house from 5-7 p.m., tree lighting at 7 p.m.)
Beaverton City Library and City Park
12375 SW 5th St.
photo: USAG-Humphreys via flickr
Troutdale Annual Tree Lighting
Sip hot chocolate and cider, take in a few musical performances and stroll the historic streets with Christmas carolers and revelers at the Troutdale Annual Tree Lighting. The ceremony will feature the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus by fire engine, as well as a canned food drive benefiting SnowCap. As an added bonus, this year’s event coincides with the Troutdale First Friday Art Walk, which showcases a variety of local artists, galleries and unique independent shops.
Dec. 2, 5:30 p.m.
E Historic Columbia River Highway and SE Dora Street
West Linn Community Tree Lighting and Celebration
Watch Santa roll into town on an antique fire engine at the West Linn Community Tree Lighting and Celebration, an annual tradition for the past 15 years. The festivities will include outdoor entertainment by the Corner Church Kids Choir, drinks and treats from the Cascade Summit Starbucks and activities that include crafts and a holiday movie. Bring along non-perishable food and unwrapped toys to donate to the West Linn Food Pantry and help make someone else’s holiday as joyful as yours.
Dec. 2, 6 p.m.
West Linn City Hall
22500 Salamo Rd.
West Linn, Or
photo: Seth Long via flickr
Milwaukie Annual Umbrella Parade and Tree Lighting
Encourage your kids to unleash their creativity at the Annual Umbrella Parade and Tree Lighting in Milwaukie, a lively four-block procession of homemade decorated umbrellas. The parade ends at Milwaukie City Hall, where the Christmas tree will be lit—and cookies, hot chocolate and Santa Claus are all scheduled to make appearances.
Dec. 3, 4 p.m.
Milwaukie City Hall
10722 SE Main St.
Sherwood Winter Festival and Tree Lighting
You’ll enjoy a day full of food, music and community events at the Sherwood Winter Festival and Tree Lighting, which includes a parade that runs between Sherwood Plaza Shopping Center and Old Town Sherwood. The kids will love watching the live nativity presented by St. Paul Lutheran Church, visiting with Santa and Mrs. Claus and making crafts at the Masonic Lodge. Just be sure to save time for the tree lighting in Cannery Square Plaza, which will be done to a soundtrack of live choral music.
Dec. 3, 4 p.m.
Cannery Square Plaza
22560 SW Pine St.
Where is your favorite tree lighting in Portland? Let us know in the comments below!
— Maura O’Brien