Holiday Light Shows You Don’t Want to Miss

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The stars aren’t the only thing twinkling at night in Portland through the holiday season. Portland brings on the holiday cheer with gorgeous light displays that will leave your family in awe. Fill your thermos with hot chocolate and bundle up, because the dark winter nights are about to be set ablaze.  We’ve put together a list of the best long-running holiday light show that Portland has to offer! Read on for more! 

Oregon Zoolights

Kids and adults alike agree: it wouldn't be the holidays in Portland without a visit to ZooLights. A bigger than ever light display guides visitors on a glowing tour of the zoo with over a million and a half lights! Tunnels and moving displays are a bright attraction, and all your favorite animals are there, too. This year, there's a new way to illuminate the season. In addition to walking through a dazzling display of 1.5 million lights, visitors can explore the magic with a new drive-through experience.

Walk-through ($24/person ages 12+, $19/person ages 2-11. Infants are free with paid adult admission but must be counted)
Drive-through ($65/car)

Nov. 19 – Jan. 9, 5-9 p.m.
4001 SW Canyon Rd.
Portland, OR
503-226-1561
Online: oregonzoo.org/

Christmas Festival of Lights

The Grotto’s Christmas Festival of Lights is one of the largest Christmas choral festivals in the world and it features 160 indoor holiday concerts performed by many of the region’s finest school, church and civic choirs accompanied by lights that dazzle. Offering a family-oriented blend of traditional celebration and serene reflection, the festival theme reflects the special season of hope that Christmas offers local families. Indoor concerts are scheduled each evening in The Grotto’s 600-seat chapel, and ongoing family entertainment in The Grotto’s plaza area includes outdoor caroling, puppet shows and a live petting zoo. 

Adults: $11; kids: $6
Nov. 26-Jan. 2
8840 N.E. Skidmore St.
Portland, OR
Online: thegrotto.org/christmas-festival-of-lights

photo: via Christmas Ships

Christmas Ship Parade

The Christmas ships are coming! A fleet of ships have sailed down the Willamette and Columbia Rivers every year for 67 years. Grab a perch with a view (restaurants along the route book up quick!), pack your thermos and blankets, and watch the floating lights go by. This is a great parade, and the best part is, you can catch it almost every night in December! Be sure to check online for when they’ll be closest to you, as the route changes. Perfect for tiny boat enthusiasts!

Free
Dec. 3-21
Columbia and Willamette Rivers, check online schedule for details.
Online: christmasships.org

Winter Wonderland at Portland International Raceway

You want to be impressed? Maybe a little blown away, but also stay warm and cozy? Get the family to Winter Wonderland! Recognized throughout the Pacific Northwest as the “Largest Holiday Light Show West of the Mississippi”, the 29th annual Safeway Winter Wonderland powered by Advantis Credit Union, will grab your attention with glimmers and glows around every corner. The Northwest’s largest light show spans the track at the raceway, making a great drive on a chilly night. Over 250 giant set pieces are alight, many animated, all fun. Running since 1993, the Winter Wonderland is going cashless this year. All proceeds from the event benefit the Sunshine Division, which provides food and clothing to Portland families in need.

$46-75/car
Nov. 27-Jan. 2
Mon.-Thur. 5- 10 p.m., Fri.- Sun., 4:30 - 11 p.m.
Portland International Raceway
1940 N Victory Blvd
Portland, OR
Online:  winterwonderlandportland.com

Portland Neighborhoods

Pile your kids in the family vehicle and drive through some of the local neighborhoods for some of the best light displays in town. Some of our favorite areas include the Pearl District, Downtown Portland, Alberta, and the Sellwood/Moreland area

Nearly anywhere you drive in Portland, you are likely to see stunning and creative light displays by local families. Holding true to our city's reputation for creativity, you are guaranteed a bright and magical holiday when you live in the city of roses. Don't forget to pack some hot chocolate and candy canes, to add to the seasonal magic.

—Annette Benedetti

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