Disclaimer: Due to COVID-19 concerns, many events might be canceled, postponed, or changed into limited versions, sometimes at very short notice. Please check with event organizers directly for the latest updates (view the "External Resources" section below).
Oregon produces more Christmas trees than any other state in the union, so it is no wonder that the holiday season here is exceptional. From Christmas Ship parades to spectacular light festivals across the state, every town has its own merriment traditions that you can enjoy with family and friends.
Pastega Christmas Light Display at the Benton County Events Center, Corvallis (November–January, postponed TFN)
Since the 1980s, Pastega Christmas Light Display has become a cherished Corvallis holiday tradition. The Benton County Fairgrounds transforms into a winter wonderland for the holidays featuring thousands of twinkling lights, more than 250 figures, and mechanized scenes. The tradition is alive thanks to the help of many volunteers in the Corvallis community who give their time, talents, and donations. Visiting the display is free of charge.
The Grotto's Christmas Festival of Lights, Portland (November 27–December 30, 2020)
With more than thirty years of history, The Grotto's Christmas Festival of Lights is surely one of Oregon's favorite holiday traditions. The annual celebration turns the serene Catholic shrine into a massive choral festival. Visitors can walk a short illuminated trail and enjoy live entertainment such as outdoor caroling, a petting zoo, puppet shows, and various music. There are about 170 concerts taking place in the Grotto's chapel during the holidays.
Zoolights at the Oregon Zoo (November 23, 2020–January 10, 2021)
ZooLights is one of the most popular holiday attractions in Portland. The Oregon Zoo boasts an impressive walk-through light extravaganza featuring more than 1.6 million colored lights. In addition to seeing mountain goats, elephants, and other animals, visitors can see the zoo in an entirely new light. Kids love to ride the zoo train, decorated with lights, and an old-fashioned carousel, enjoy hot chocolate and snacks. ZooLights received over a million visitors over recent years, with school vacations being the busiest time. ZooLights runs from 5 pm to 9 pm.
Christmas Ship Parade in Portland (December 4–22, 2020)
The annual Christmas Ships Parade is one of the most awaited holiday events in Portland. Ships illuminated with thousands of lights and incredible decorations parade on the Columbia and Willamette Rivers for fifteen nights in December. The iconic Christmas Ship Parade started in 1954 by the Portland Yacht Club. Now it has grown to about 60 brightly lit boats that can be well seen from both rivers' banks. New ships join the parade every year, bringing new holiday-themed light exhibits. A popular way to see the parade is to book a table at a restaurant along either river, but you can enjoy the display for free from several popular locations.
Christmas in the Garden, Oregon Garden Resort, Silverton (November 27, 2020–January 2, 2021)
Oregon’s largest Christmas light display, Christmas in the Garden, is the annual holiday festival in Silverton. It takes place in a picturesque 10-acre (4-ha) forest within Oregon Garden. Featuring over one million lights and various fun activities, this is a must-see holiday outdoor event where you will find a traditional German Christmas market, fire pits, live music, lots of food, and craft vendors. Sip a cup of warm gluhwein or cocoa and stroll through the market stalls, listening to carols from choirs. Adventures in the Garden include ice-skating and snowless tubing. Kids can visit Santa and enjoy various Christmas-themed activities.
Newport's Lighted Boat Parade (December 5, 2020)
Every year, on one night in December, Newport’s Yaquina Bay gets illuminated with thousands of lights. The annual Lighted Boat Parade is a favorite local tradition that kicks off the holiday season. Dozens of boats, lavishly decorated with shimmering lights, make a large loop around the bay. The parade moves from the Coast Guard Station to the Embarcadero Resort and back for everyone to enjoy. Thousands of people watch the parade from the docks and walkways along the Bayfront and South Beach Marina as well as from the local restaurants. You can even purchase tickets to ride on one of the boats! The Historic Bay Front is the best place to see the boats before they started moving.
Wenzel Farm Christmas Fantasy Trail, Oregon City (December 2–29, 2020)
Christmas Fantasy Trail is a fun family adventure located not far from Oregon City. The trail offers a 1000-feet (305-m) wooden walkway decorated in a Christmas theme. The Fantasy Trail features thousands of lights to boost your Christmas spirit. The main attraction of the trail is the 40-feet (12-m) castle with holiday scenes. You can also enjoy a walk-through tunnel, a maze, a crooked house, a suspension bridge, and more. Bonfires and refreshments are available to warm up and recharge for new adventures.
Miracle of a Million Lights at Victorian Belle Mansion, Portland (December, canceled for 2020)
The historic Victorian Belle Mansion is one of Portland's most iconic buildings. Built-in 1885 as a wedding present from David Cole to his new bride, Amanda Laura Boone, it has the authentic atmosphere of Victorian Christmas. During the holiday season, the mansion opens its doors to the public with "The Miracle of a Million Lights.” The 2.5-acre (1-ha) estate, including the mansion and the main garden, is lavishly decorated with thousands of twinkling lights, transforming the landmark into a Christmas fairytale. The mansion also features multiple special events during December. The display runs from 6 to 10 pm.
Winter Wonderland at Portland International Raceway (November 27, 2020–January 2, 2021)
Often called the “Largest Holiday Light Show West of the Mississippi”, the annual Winter Wonderland at Portland International Raceway attracts thousands of visitors with its impressive displays. A Portland holiday tradition since 1993, Winter Wonderland has become a must-see during the holiday season. A spectacular drive-through light show features over 250 colorful light set pieces. There are many fully animated Christmas-themed scenes and characters. Proceeds from the display benefit the Sunshine Division, which provides food and shelter to Portland families in need.
Umpqua Valley Festival of Lights at River Forks Park, Roseburg (November 22, 2020–January 1, 2021)
Umpqua Valley Festival of Lights is a cherished family tradition in Douglas County. The fantastic light display featuring more than 500,000 LEDs attracts about 25,000 visitors every holiday season. Since 1993, the show transforms River Forks Park into a winter wonderland with over ninety light displays depicting whimsical scenes. The attractions include the world's largest Nutcracker, the Holiday Village, wagon rides, and a model train. You can also visit Santa Claus, have some cookies and candy canes with warm cocoa or cider. There are gifts and souvenirs for sale at the Holiday Village.
Holiday Lights at Shore Acres, Charleston (November–December, dates TBA)
Shore Acres State Park with rugged sandstone cliffs washed by the ocean, is one of the most beautiful Pacific Northwest places. During the holidays, it transforms into a winter wonderland hosting one of the brightest and most beautiful displays on the West Coast. A 7-acre (3-ha) Botanical Garden with a picturesque Japanese lily pond gets illuminated with over 250,000 lights. There are many animated displays, Santa Claus, choirs, and activities. This fun holiday Oregon tradition runs from Thanksgiving Day through New Year's Eve from 4 pm to 9:30 pm.