HolidaysPortlandTravel December 18, 2015

Christmas Time is Here…and So Are the Lights!

My absolute favorite thing about the holidays is seeing the city transform into a sea of lights.  Whether it’s in my neighborhood or a professional display, there’s nothing that gets me in the holiday spirit quite like some good Christmas lights.  Here in Portland, there’s no shortage of great holiday displays.  I wanted to share with all of you some of the best ones that our city has to offer.

Firstly, there’s a great chance that if you take a walk through your neighborhood, you’ll find amazing displays in your neighbors’ yards. The people of Portland are a wonderful and creative bunch who love to get into the holiday spirit.  Here in Kenton, we’ve got a few neighbors in particular that really dazzle with their displays.  Even in the cold, rainy weather, I find myself taking my dog for longer, slower walks to take it all in.

If you are looking for something professionally done, fear not! There are light shows in every corner of the city, and there are a few that you can see at no charge.  Arguably one of the most popular places Portlanders go to see the lights for free is Peacock Lane in SE.  I haven’t made it down yet this year, but the pedestrian-only nights (no vehicles allowed on the block) are this weekend, so I may just have to get there!  Last year was my first year visiting, and the displays are just breathtaking.  Each house is unique in the way they decorate, from the very traditional to the downright funky.  This year especially, I think the Star Wars themed house will get a lot of attention.  Most nights, you’ll be able to buy coffee and hot chocolate to keep you warm while you walk.  Peacock Lane is amazing, and for that reason it can get very crowded. Parking is definitely a challenge, so be ready to take public transit or walk a ways to get there.


The Star Wars House last year. As popular as it was last year, it’ll only be more so this year!  

Also free is the Christmas tree at Pioneer Courthouse Square.  Each year, they erect a 75 ft. Douglas Fir in the Square and adorn it with lights.  It’s a huge, beautiful tree that is quite fitting for Portland’s Living Room.  Check the website for holiday events and performances happening to coincide with your tree viewing!


No need for Rockefeller Center, when we’ve got a great tree right here in Portland!

The Festival of Lights at The Grotto might be my favorite light display in Portland.  It’s $10 for adults, but so worth it.  On a regular day, The Grotto is a stunning place.  When filled with lights, it becomes awe-inspiring.  Most people come not only for the lights, but for the choral performances–it is the largest Christmas choral festival in the world! Their website has a schedule of all performances.  Alongside the lights and performers is a beautiful nativity scene (it is a Catholic sanctuary after all).


This doesn’t even close to do The Grotto justice.  It’s STUNNING in person!

If looking at the lights while braving the cold isn’t really your thing, be sure to check out the Winter Wonderland at Portland International Raceway.  It’s $20/car which is a little pricey, but could be a deal if you get a bunch of friends to all go together in one car. Passenger car tickets will also be available at a 10% discount at Portland Metro Safeway locations at the Customer Service desk. Once inside, take a drive along the race track to see a spectacular lights display.  They really go all out, and if you’re driving along I-5 at night, you can see the glow from the Raceway.  If you want to see the largest drive-through light show in the Pacific Northwest, look no further!


Just one of the many displays you’ll drive by!

These are only a few of the ways to see lights this holiday season.  I’ve added an easy, at-a-glance list of light displays with even more options at the bottom of this post that you can download to your phone or print out to keep all your options at your fingertips.

Tell us about your holiday traditions in the comments!