This weekend will be merry and bright! Bright with twinkle lights, that is! A great holiday pastime for any age or walk of life is to admire holiday light displays. Back in the day, yuletide lights were mostly seen on trees, residences, and department stores. Today, many of our favorite places in Portland have created their own unique light spectaculars! If viewing beautiful holiday lights is on your to-do list this weekend, check out some of our favorites below.
December 1st – December 31st: Zoo Lights
In 1953, 10-year-old Gayla Peevey recorded a cute and comical tune called “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”. Our guess is that little Gayla is not the only child with such a wish! While gifting a 3,500 lb semi-aquatic animal to a small child is, quite frankly, a terrible idea, it doesn’t mean that all bets are off. Bring those animal-loving kiddos to the Oregon Zoo for one of the most spectacular holiday events to date! Not only will you get to visit with lions, tigers, and bears; you will surely exclaim a splendid “oh my!” at the sight of 1.5 million LED lights! Zoo Lights will be a fabulously good time, and of course, ticket prices will benefit the beautiful creatures that the Oregon Zoo so lovingly care for. You probably won’t leave with that hippopotamus you asked for, but you CAN wish them all a happy holiday!
December 1st – December 30th: Lights at the Grotto
While the holiday season is known for its hustle and bustle, at its root is an urge to nestle into the warmth of family and spirituality. In a time of year that is focused on the heart, we look for special moments that fill us with joy. For us, the Lights at the Grotto event hits all the sweet spots. The Grotto is a beautifully welcoming space year-round, but their holiday celebration is extremely special. This event hosts 5 choral concerts each night inside a chapel known for its cathedral-like acoustics. If you’ve ever wanted to hear a choir of angels sing, this is pretty darn close! While it may be hard to keep eyes dry inside the music-filled chapel, you’ll be all smiles when you stroll through the light displays or pay a visit to the petting zoo. The Grotto will supply refreshments for visitors, and holiday shopping is available in the gift shop!
December 12th – January 4th: Winter Wonderland at the Portland International Raceway
Even if the weather outside becomes a bit frightful, your weekend will still be de-LIGHT-ful at the Portland International Raceway! This is the largest light show west of the Mississippi river. We love that this event was designed with your comfort in mind, whether rain, snow, or shine! Grab your kin and make sure you call ‘shotgun’, because this light show is a giant drive thru! Caravan through this Winter Wonderland and enjoy over 250 scenes entirely made of holiday lights. This event is all about cozying up and enjoying the scenery, so of course, there will be a Starbucks coffee cart on site to satisfy your sweet tooth.
December 15th – December 17th: Peacock Lane – Pedestrians Only Nights
If a sweet, snuggly stroll around a beautiful neighborhood light display sounds like the right holiday event for you, then look no further! This SE Portland tradition has been around since the 1920s, when the residents of Peacock Lane agreed to transform their street into a picturesque holiday scene! For over 90 years, we have seen epic light displays of both modern and traditional persuasions. You will witness everything from animatronic snowmen to rotating Christmas trees, to classic nativity scenes. Nothing beats the holiday cheer of a quaint neighborhood light display! This weekend is open to pedestrians only, but the festivities continue for other modes of transit up until December 22nd.