For many, walking around and looking at beautiful holiday lights is an annual tradition and some of the best quality time they’ll get around this festive time of the year. Whether it’s a romantic evening stroll or a cherished family drive, the magic of the twinkling lights sets the perfect festive mood.
Whatever the reason for your excursion, you’ll only want to see the best of the best. Here are the 8 best holiday lights in Portland you need to see.
Location: 1940 N Victory Blvd, Portland, OR 97217
Cost: Ticket prices start at $48
Winter Wonderland at Portland International Raceway is known all around the Pacific Northwest as the “Largest Holiday Lightshow West of the Mississippi”. Since 1993, millions of people have been making this event their festive tradition to celebrate the spirit of the holiday.
You can enjoy this spectacular drive-through light show from the comfort of your own vehicle. Over 250 colorful light set pieces are featured on top of many fully animated scenes along the way. All proceeds from this light show will benefit Sunshine Division’s year-round hunger relief efforts that provide thousands of free, nutritious meals to families in need.
Another thing that’s great about this event is that it’s open on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve so you can visit with your loved ones during these special days. However, please note that weekends and the week of Christmas are always popular times so to avoid crowds you can attend during weeknights.
Location: 4450 NW 229th Ave, Hillsboro, OR 97124
The west metro area of the city has its own drive-through experience at Hillsboro's Lightopia. Launched in 2021 by Hillsboro firefighters, this half-mile loop is located at Gordon Faber Recreation Complex, just off Highway US-26.
It takes roughly 15-20 minutes to enjoy and offers a peaceful escape from other bustling holiday displays in the city. What makes it even more special is its dual purpose of spreading holiday cheer and aiding local families in need.
Although the admission is free, attendees are encouraged to contribute by bringing non-perishable food items and unwrapped toys. Donations support the Hillsboro Firefighters Toy & Joy Drive and the Hillsboro School District Food Pantry. Just make sure to reserve your spot online in advance to ensure a seamless and joyful experience.
Location: 4001 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221
Cost: Adult ticket prices range from $12 to $26; Youth ticket prices range from $12 to $18; members receive 20% off regularly priced tickets
It wouldn’t be a holiday in Portland without a visit to the state’s most popular holiday tradition – the Zoo Lights. Oregon Zoo presents an immersive and dazzling display of millions of lights that is enchanting for kids and adults alike.
Apart from the colorful animals, you can walk through tunnels of sparkling lights, take a ride on the zoo train, and marvel at “sealebration”, their biggest light display to date. While you stroll around, savor delicious treats and good eats like s’mores, hot chocolate, elephant ears, popcorn, wine, and beer.
The walking route is about 1.25 miles with lots of photo opportunities and places to soak in all the holiday lights. Please note that tickets must be purchased in advance; no walk-up ticket sales; admission is not included with a daytime admission ticket. Click here for more information on ticket prices, dates, and times.
Pioneer Courthouse Square
Location: 701 SW 6th Ave, Portland, OR 97204
The Pioneer Courthouse Square comes alive with the spirit of the holiday season, and at its heart stands the city’s festive focal point – a magnificent 75-feet-tall Douglas Fir. Generously donated by the Stimson Lumber Company, this towering tree is adorned with more than 9,500 colorful LED lights.
More than just a decorated centerpiece, the square itself is an inviting space for both locals and tourists. Whether you’re drawn to the area for events, shopping, exploring the brick, or indulging in diverse culinary offerings, don’t miss the chance to pause and bask in the holiday vibes.
Location: 805 SE Peacock Lane, Portland, OR 97214
Peacock Lane, Portland’s renowned Christmas Street, will be displaying their lights from December 15th to December 31st, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. They also bring back the car-free nights on December 15, 16, and 17.
Since 1932, each house on this little street has been decorated for Christmas, bringing festive joy to Portlanders. The houses are adorned with creative light displays that include rotating Christmas trees, nativity scenes, and amazing life-like replicas of Frosty, Santa, The Grinch, and other colorful characters.
Aside from the holiday lights, you can also enjoy free cocoa or cider at the Cocoa Booth (from Dec. 15-24 only). Though they don’t charge for the drink, cash donations are highly appreciated which will be used to offset supplies and operating costs and a portion of proceeds will be donated to a local charity.
Christmas Ships Parade
Location: various locations
One of the best views of the city is at night when the city lights reflect off the glassy surface of the Willamette River. This scene becomes even more enchanting every holiday season during the annual Christmas Ships Parade.
This year, they present new boats and displays as they celebrate their 69th year. Up to 60 brightly decorated boats, 14 to 65 feet long, make up two fleets. The parades can be seen from Portland, Lake Oswego, Milwaukie, Scappoose, Vancouver, Washougal, Camas, and St. Helens.
The event is free to attend from multiple outdoor viewing spots but consider making a reservation at a restaurant along the Willamette or Columbia Rivers if you want to make the night extra special. Since the parade is happening on various days and locations, you can view the Willamette River schedule here and the Columbia River schedule here.
Christmas Festival of Light
Location: 8840 NE Skidmore St, Portland, OR 97220
Cost (online): $14/adult (12+ years old); $6/youth (3-11 years old); children ages 2 and under are free
Cost (at the gate): $18/adult (12+ years old); $8/youth (3-11 years old); children ages 2 and under are free
The Grotto’s Christmas Festival of Light is the world’s largest Christmas choral festival, presenting the sounds, sights, and sensations of the holiday season. This festival features 160 indoor holiday concerts performed by the finest civic, school, and church choirs in the region.
Numerous family-friendly entertainments are offered at the plaza including outdoor caroling, live music, puppet shows, and storytimes. This walk-through event spans a quarter-mile, ensuring a simple yet delightful experience. Though all entertainment areas are either tented or indoors, visitors should still dress for the weather.
Silverton Christmas Market
Location: 895 W Main St, Silverton, OR 97381
Cost: Price varies
Just an hour’s drive south of Portland, Silverton Christmas Market at the Oregon Garden Resort is an annual event for all ages that features light displays and a market of artisan vendors. You can stroll along the immersive paths draped in over a million lights, visit Santa to share your wish list, and take a ride down the snowless tubing hill.
On top of that, you can explore the authentic German Christmas Market for gifts, cozy up to the fire pit, delight your taste buds with festive food, or enjoy live music and a brew in the Biergarten. This year, they are also adding new light displays, a wider and longer walking path, and more vendors and imported German goods.
The crowd’s favorites like the candy cane tunnel are also back and are bigger than ever. Please note that ticket prices vary per date and you can click here for more info.