The moment your Thanksgiving fork hits your pie plate, it’s official: the Holidays are in full swing. Halls will be decked, trees will be ornamented and lights will twinkle. Two of Portland’s most popular holiday light displays start shining this weekend: ZooLights and The Grotto’s Festival of Lights. Thousands of Portlanders will gather to light the giant tree in Pioneer Square, and even the Pittock Mansion gets dressed up in its Christmas best. But if you’re not ready for the holiday hullabaloo yet, you’ll still find plenty of elf-free family activities.
Oregon Zoo ZooLights (pictured)
More than a million lights transform the Oregon Zoo into a luminous winter wonderland filled with moving sculptures, forests of lighted trees and animal silhouettes. Be sure to board the zoo’s steamer train, which provides a unique view of the amazing displays. Nov 25 – Jan 1. See website for hours. Free with admission. Steamer train ticket additional to cost of admission. Event details.
Tree Lighting Ceremony in Pioneer Square
Celebrate the official start of the season by lighting the spectacular 75ft tree. This year’s event will feature a holiday sing-a-long featuring Pink Martini, members of the Oregon Symphony and the Pacific Youth Choir. Fri. 5:30 pm. Free. All ages. Event details.
Christmas Around the World at the Pittock Mansion
Pittock Mansion is transformed into a Christmas wonderland. Explore 23 treasure-filled rooms featuring multi-cultural Christmas customs–including hundreds of ornaments adorning more than 15 festive trees. Nov 21 – Dec 2. 11:00 am – 4:00 pm. $9 adults, $8 seniors, $6 Youth, free for members and children under 5. Event details.
The Grotto’s Festival of Lights
Our celebration of Christmas begins the day after Thanksgiving with the opening of our most popular event, The Christmas Festival of Lights. With over 500,000 lights, 150 choral performances, a petting zoo, carolers, puppet shows and hot chocolate, this is a special event for the whole family. Nov 25–Dec 30. 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm. $8.00 general admission, $4.00 children, Kids 2 and under are admitted free. Event details.
Mr. Hoo at Milagros
Enjoy post-turkey shopping at Milagros while the kids are busy jamming to some tunes. Fri. 11:00 am – 12:00 pm. $3.00. All ages. Event details.
Joel Henriques at Polliwog
Fresh from his recent Martha Stewart appearance, local crafty-dad celebrity Joel Henriques will be crafting and signing his new book Made to Play: Handmade Toys and Crafts for Growing Imaginations. Sat. 1:00 pm. Polliwog. Free. All ages. Event details.
— Cheyenne Terbrueggen