Portland Holiday Events 2011

While the holidays in Portland may be rainy, there's no reason for them to be gloomy. The city's got holiday traditions galore, from a gang of Christmas revelers playing tubas, to a 31-year-running gay men's chorus, to traditional family fare like "The Nutcracker." Whatever you're into this holiday season, we've got you covered, and no matter what event you choose, wear a hat. It's cold out there, people! (Photo: Oregon ZooLights by Flickr user Alice Carrier)

Updated: November 22, 2011

Holiday Events in Portland


Pioneer Courthouse Square

715 SW Morrison St, Portland, OR 97205

Dec. 10, 1:30pm-3pm. Tuba Christmas is a big honkin' Portland tradition. Imagine 200-ish tuba and euphonium players rocking Christmas music, for free, downtown. What's wildest is that you can be one of the players, even if you're not an expert (though you do need to show up for rehearsal earlier in the day). Check tubachristmas.com for details, even if you don't plan on blurting out a solo yourself.


Newmark Theatre

1111 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97201

Dec. 9-10, www.pdxgmc.org for showtimes. Performing "Joy to the (Modern) World," the Portland Gay Men's Chorus is back for another holiday show blockbuster. This year's program features different takes on the term "modern," including traditional holiday songs and new, international fare. Although the performance includes showstopper hits such as John Lennon's "Imagine," there's also an entire section called "Gaga for the Holidays," plus the Locomotions dance troupe will perform. (Tickets are $16-42, and student/group discounts are available.)


Keller Auditorium

222 SW Clay St, Portland, OR 97201

Dec. 10-11, 15-23. Oregon Ballet Theater's Nutcracker at the Keller is the best traditional Nutcracker in Portland. There are other flavors of the Nutcracker in the Rose City, but this is the George Ballanchine version. Seven years running, this production is reasonably priced (tickets start at $21) and features a full orchestra, terrific costumes, and fun for the whole family. Pro tip: Try to get seats in the middle floor section so you can actually see the costume detail ... or bring binoculars.


Grotto Christian Gifts & Books

Sandy Blvd & Ne 85th, Portland, OR 97220

Nov. 25 - Dec. 30. What's better than a real Catholic shrine on Christmas? The Grotto's Christmas Festival of Lights, which runs daily from 5pm-9:30pm (except on Christmas, when it's closed) through the season. It's the largest Christmas choral festival in the world, sporting a total of 170 (!) indoor concerts, with five performances each evening in the chapel. Other festivities include lights, carols, puppet shows, holiday shopping, and a petting zoo. Be aware that, yes, it's very religious.


Peacock Lane

One block east of SE 39th Ave, between Stark and Belmont, Portland, OR 97214

Dec. 15-31, www.peacocklane.net for details on dates and times. Peacock Lane, a neighborhood near Laurelhurst Park, goes nuts with Christmas lights. Since the 1920s, the Lane has gone all-out, even closing the street to vehicles on several nights so families can check out the lights--and there's a horse-drawn carriage available on select evenings. Park a few blocks away and be prepared for a crowd.


Oregon Zoo Library

4001 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221

Nov. 23-Jan. 1, Sun-Thu 5pm-8pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-8:30pm. The Oregon Zoo gets decked out in more than a million Christmas lights for more than a month--this is the definition of family fun. The zoo train is also lighted, live music is provided, and kids will love the animal-themed light displays and animals in holiday costumes (yes, really). Bundle up and enjoy the zoo at Christmas!