Every December, the City of Roses turns into the City of Lights as some of the best light shows and festivals of the Pacific Northwest light up the winter sky.
We love traveling from our Southern Oregon home to Portland each holiday season to catch one or all of these beautiful light displays. Here are five not-to-miss displays of Portland Christmas lights.
Where to see the Best Portland Christmas Lights
1. Christmas Festival of Lights at The Grotto
It’s time to see Christmas lights, Portland style. In December, half a million lights transform Portland’s Grotto during the Christmas Festival of Lights. This year’e event takes place November 24 – December 30, 2023.
Families can also hear 150 choral performances, listen to carolers, and even visit the on-site petting zoo. Online Advance Admission is $14 for adults and $6 for kids, so be sure to purchase online ahead of time. Parking is free.
Visiting The Grotto is peaceful and relaxing for a family any time of year, and a visit during the holidays truly reminds you to slow down and enjoy the season.
2. Winter Wonderland at the Portland International Speedway
Winter Wonderland is a sensational display of lights and animation that’s grown bigger every year. Families drive through this display, which means that even if the weather isn’t cooperating, you can still have a great time. It’s the largest holiday light show in the area.
The action spans the track at Portland International Raceway with fully animated scenes. Displays range from the 12 Days of Christmas to the Nativity to the Peanuts gang. Our kids’ favorite is Santa jumping down an 84 foot ski slope.
Come check out one of the best displays of Christmas lights, Oregon! This year’s attraction runs November 24 – December 31, 2023. Advance purchase tickets are suggested.
If you would rather see the lights outside instead from the car, come for Bike the Lights Night on November 28th or bring your four-legged friends to Lights & Leashes Night on November 27th and 29th.
3. ZooLights at the Oregon Zoo
Stay late at the Oregon Zoo for ZooLights, an amazing light display featured from 5 pm to 8 pm. Perfect for families with young kids who don’t want to stay out too late or deal with rowdy crowds, This year’s event takes place November 23, 2022 to January 5, 2023.
ZooLights takes kids on a magical train ride through the zoo to immerse themselves in holiday lights in an already magical place. Best of all, you can buy a regular zoo ticket, spend the day, then stay late to see ZooLights. Note: Advance purchase tickets are required for the ZooLights experience.
4. Peacock Lane Light Display
For a free treat for the family at Christmas-time, head over to Portland’s quaint Peacock Lane, where every Tudor home is fully decorated for the holidays.
Driving through is less magical than walking; dress for the weather and take your time strolling through. A tradition since the 1920’s, Peacock Lane will take you back in time!
Trekaroo tip: Check their Facebook page for designated car-free nights.
5. Christmas Ships Parade on the Columbia and Willamette Rivers
For almost 70 years, the Christmas Ships Parade has been making families happy as lit and decorated boats pass by the shore. This year there will be around 60 boats floating past the area restaurant, hotels, and shoreline where thousands of onlookers wait to see the spectacle.
This all takes place on select days December 1 – 17, 2023. Times vary so check the website to be sure you don’t miss it.
Take a walk along Wenzel Farm’s Fantasy Trail, open from Halloween through Christmas with seasonal displays. In addition to holiday decor, there’s also a maze, a tunnel, and a crooked house. The trail will be winter-holiday oriented for December, and open 6 pm to 9 pm. It appears the schedule this year will be December 2 – 29, 2023.
Kids of all ages will love this fairy-tale escape, whether you have princesses or knights. Experience Christmas music, a bonfire at night, and a suspension bridge. Don’t forget: tickets are cash only!
Bonus- Take a Day Trip to Silverton
Silverton Christmas Market at the Oregon Garden Resort is a hit for families. With a million lights, walking market, and lots of tasty treats, this event hosted on the Oregon Garden’s gorgeous property, is sure to win over any Grinch.
Open November 17 – December 31, 2023 guests enjoy ice skating and sipping hot cocoa or cider by the fire. Families of little ones will appreciate the care in the creation of the family privacy lounge to make changing and feeding easier as well as a fun area where babies and toddlers can safely roam.
Trekaroo tip: Prepare to take a shuttle (provided by Oregon Garden) from offsite parking or walk 1/4 mile to the entrance.
Find more Christmas events near you! Trekaroo has guides for dozens of cities across the country.
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Featured photo by: Shutterstock