Christmas in Portland is a wonderful time of year. There's the shopping opportunities at the Portland Christmas Bazaar, the fun Holiday Ale Festival, and a number of other delightful events that help to celebrate the holiday season. Among the most popular Christmas events in Portland is the Tree Lighting Ceremony that is held at Pioneer Courthouse Square. The day after Thanksgiving is the date for this family-friendly affair, and once the tree is lit, the Christmas season is officially under way.
When looking to enjoy 2016 Christmas events in Portland, adding the Zoolights festival to your agenda is always an option. This holiday season extravaganza at the Oregon Zoo features all kinds of tantalizing holiday displays, many of which feature animal themes. On scheduled evenings, visitors can stroll along designated paths to get to the various displays. They can also hop on the Washington Park and Zoo Railway and take in the sights that way. Live music is often offered when the Zoolights attraction is open, and plenty of treats and hot cocoa are available.
Heading to the Oregon Zoo isn't the only option if you are interested in seeing dazzling holiday displays during your Christmas in Portland escape. At the Portland International Raceway, the Winter Wonderland attraction features animated scenes and more than 200 other displays that celebrate Christmas. Since it is a drive-through attraction, visitors can stay warm in their vehicles while they observe everything. Also a hit when it comes to holiday displays in the Portland area is The Grotto Christmas Festival of Lights. The Grotto is the name of a Catholic shrine and botanical garden that can be found at 8840 NE Skidmore Street. Its holiday display is a walk-through attraction/event, and when visitors aren't taking in the lights and such, they can watch a puppet show, listen to carolers, take in a concert, and enjoy other fun activities.
Portland is known for its breweries, among other things, so it only seems appropriate that it would feature a beer festival or two. Over the course of five days in early December, the Holiday Ale Festival caters to beer enthusiasts, as well as anyone who is interested in celebrating the festive season. Food stalls complement the beer stalls, and visitors can also taste some mead if they please. The Pioneer Courthouse Square is once again the venue for this fun holiday event.
Portland is also known for having a vibrant performing arts scene, so anyone who is visiting the city during the holiday season might consider seeing a holiday-based show. At the Oregon Ballet Theatre, The Nutcracker takes center stage during the Christmas season, and you can catch some more unique holiday show productions at the Gerding Theater at the Armory and Theater! Theater!
If you're not a theater buff, other Christmas 2016 events in Portland that might interest you are the Christmas Ship Parade and the Festival of the Last Minute. The Christmas Ship Parade sees a large procession of boats cruising the waters of the Columbia and Willamette River on a nightly basis for two weeks in December. The boats are decorated with lights, and if you want to find a good place to observe them from, securing a table at one of the city's waterfront restaurants is among the options. It is also popular to watch the colorful nightly parades from public bridges and parks.
As for the Festival of the Last Minute, it is a festival that takes place at the Portland Saturday Market. The market stays open for a full week leading up to Christmas Day, and when visitors aren't shopping for gifts, they can get something to eat or enjoy some live entertainment.
If the Festival of the Last Minute at the Portland Saturday Market piques your interest, you will also want to consider the Portland Christmas Bazaar. This long-running event at the Portland Expo Center features approximately 1,000 booths that are full of people selling all kinds of things, including food, gifts, and seasonal decorations. You can do some shopping at the Portland Christmas Bazaar on one of two weekends. These weekends fall in late November and early December. The hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. As for where to find the Portland Expo Center, it is located just south of the I-5 Bridge at 4001 NE Halsey Street.