Ready, set, go—the holiday season has officially started! Are you ready to embrace it and head out this weekend for some holiday cheer? There are two tree lighting ceremonies: one in Portland, at Pioneer Courthouse Square, and the other at Esther Short Park in Vancouver. Vancouver also hosts the festival of trees and a Santa photo op at Pearson Air Museum. Finally, there are several theatrical and musical events going on this weekend. Jewish Theatre Collaborative presents a Hanukah performance, the JANE Theater Company puts on their version of “Hansel and Gretel,” the Portland Ballet features La Boutique Fantasque, and the Oregon Symphony teams up with world-class circus performers to bring a unique holiday show.

This weekend also marks the opening of many Portland-area holiday lights displays. Oregon Zoo’s ZooLights features lights displays of swinging monkeys, leaping frogs, flying bats, diving penguins and a perfect-for-photos light sculpture. The Jubitz Winter Wonderland, which claims the “Largest Holiday Light Show West of the Mississippi” distinction, is held at Portland International Raceway. The Grotto’s Christmas Festival of Lights brings the lights, but also offers a petting zoo, choral performances, carolers, puppet shows, and hot chocolate.



Hanukah: The Power of Light
Celebrate the power we all have to bring light in to the world! Jewish Theatre Collaborative presents this family holiday performance featuring Eric Kimmel and Patricia Polacco’s Intergenerational classics “When Mindy Saved Hanukkah” and “The Trees Of the Dancing Goats.” Sun., 10:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., Portland, $10 adults, $5 children. Event details.


Holly Jolly Hullabaloo!
The JANE Theater Company offers their version of “Hansel and Gretel,” complete with silly songs and sillier dances! The book, written by local writer Kim Bogus, incorporates jokes for kids and adults while swirling various children’s adventure and horror stories together into a fun and frivolous tale. Fri., 7:00 p.m., Sat. and Sun., 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., Portland, free. Event details.




La Boutique Fantasque
How ‘bout a new holiday tradition? The Portland Ballet performs La Boutique Fantasque, a story of a toyshop where the toys come alive. The Portland State University Orchestra will provide live music. Fri., 7:30 p.m., Sat., 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Sun., 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., Portland, Tickets $12-$45. Event details.


Tree Lighting Ceremony
Be merry at the Square! Join thousands of your fellow Portlanders at Pioneer Courthouse Square to see the lighting of the 75-foot tree. Get into the holiday spirit as you sing along with newfound friends in front of the spectacular tree. Fri., 5:30 p.m., Portland, free. Event details.


Cirque de la Symphonie
The Oregon Symphony meets world-class circus performers! The show includes virtually everything one might expect to find at a circus: aerialists, acrobats, contortionists, dancers, jugglers and strongmen—all performing live in front of, and above, the orchestra, to a myriad of traditional holiday favorites. Sat., 7:30 p.m., Sun., 2:00 p.m., Portland, from $23-$133. Event details.




Vancouver Tree Lighting/Pops Concert
A two for one, folks! Gather at Esther Short Park to see the traditional tree-lighting, which includes  entertainment, refreshments, elves, and Santa arriving by train. Then at 7 p.m., walk across the street and enjoy holiday tunes performed by the Vancouver Pops Orchestra. Fri., 5:30 p.m., Vancouver, free, non-perishable food donation requested. Event details.


Vancouver Festival of Trees and Santa
Kick off the holiday season at the Pearson Air Museum and enjoy the beautifully decorated trees and wreaths interspersed among cool vintage airplanes! The extremely popular Talking Tree will be chatting away, and photos with Santa, taken in an historic airplane, will be available. Fri., noon – 9:00 p.m., Sat., 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Sun., noon – 4:00 p.m., Vancouver, free, non-perishable food donation requested. Event details.

—Holly Crisp