Pioneer Square’s Christmas Tree in Downtown Portland. Photo by @thesquarepdx.

There’s nothing quite like spending the holidays in Portland. Framed by the beautiful evergreens in the hills of Forest Park, downtown Portland sparkles with festive lights that charm visitors and locals alike. Between the dazzling tree in Pioneer Square to a multitude of free holiday events this year, the city buzzes with the spirit of the season. Celebrate the holidays with us and discover the best things to do in Portland this December.

FEAST AT FESTIVE EVENTS

Raise a glass at the annual Holiday Ale Fest December 4th – 8th. Held in downtown Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square, the festival pours over 50 beers and ciders on tap under the lights of the city’s Christmas tree.

Holiday Tea with Santa at Hotel deLuxe.

Make lifelong family memories at 2nd Annual Brunch with Santa and Holiday Tea with Santa on Saturday, December 15th Hosted at Gracie’s, Hotel deLuxe’s elegant restaurant, Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive following a decadent holiday brunch or tea service. Seating is limited and reservations are required. Brunch with Santa will be served from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., and Tea with Santa will be served from 3 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Call Gracie’s at 503-222-2171 to make a reservation.

SHOP LOCAL AT ARTISAN MARKETS

Celebrate Portland’s vibrant artisan community by shopping local this year. There’s something for everyone at Portland Night Market taking place December 5 – 8th from 4 – 11 p.m. Here, local makers and food vendors sell their goods in a lively warehouse night market. Entry is free and open for all ages.

Pick the perfect gift for your favorite foodies at the Cookbook & Artisan Marketplace at Headwaters at the Heathman Hotel on December 8th. Enjoy a Joy of Cooking culinary conversation with authors Diane Morgan, John Becker, and Meagan Scott from 11 a.m. – noon. Afterwards, meet local authors and makers at the Cookbook & Artisan Marketplace featuring cookbooks and goods for sale. Proceeds from the event will support 2020 culinary entrepreneur scholarships provided by the Portland Culinary Alliance.

Support local shops at Woodlark’s Holiday Market.

Discover a coveted array of gifts at Woodlark’s Holiday Market in the lobby on December 11th from 4 – 8 p.m. Design lovers with delight with a thoughtfully curated selection of clothing and goods from Johan, Backtalk, and Brookes Boswell, as well as impeccable bedding and homewares from Parachute Home.

For one last chance to check every gift off your list, Portland Bazaar offers a selection of 80+ vendor booths as well as sips and bites from local purveyors. Join the fun December 14th – 15th from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Yale Union.

WANDER IN WONDER AT HOLIDAY LIGHT SHOWS

Cozy up with cocoa and explore the Oregon Zoo for ZooLights. This family-friendly event showcases impressive displays featuring 1.5 million lights, local food carts, hot drinks, and a festive train ride around the zoo. Enjoy the festivities from 5 – 9 p.m., November 29th – January 5th.

Looking for more ways to catch the holiday lights? Take stroll down the beloved Peacock Lane, a 100-year-old tradition where neighbors decorate their historic homes to the nines from December 15th – 30th

Other popular Portland holiday light events include the Christmas Festival of Lights at The Grotto and the Christmas Ships Parade that sets sail along the Columbia and Willamette Rivers throughout the month of December.

Celebrate the holidays at Sentinel’s Pet Love social hour.

GIVE BACK TO ANIMALS IN NEED

Share the holiday spirit with your fur friends at Sentinels Pet Love social hour on December 15th from 3 – 4 p.m. Bring your pup, enjoy hot cider (boozy or not), and mingle with fellow dog lovers. Please bring a suggested donation of pet items in need, such as food, coats, blankets, or beds to be donated to PAW PDX a local non-profit offering free veterinary services to impoverished dog & cat owners.