Winter is here. Shorter days mean longer nights, and one unexpected bonus to that arrangement is that it means more hours to enjoy holiday lights. Whether it’s your neighbor’s yard or a multi-million light display, sparkly displays and joyful colors can bring cheer during this season. Here are six ways to enjoy holiday lights in the Portland region. Visit our map at the end of this post to plan your visit. Or, maybe go all out and hit up multiple spots (and grab some hot cocoa on the way!).
Running from November 26 – Jan 9 (closed December 24 and 25), the Silverton Christmas Market is a full-on experience. More than one million lights are in their walkable display, and the event includes other holiday goodies such as Santa and Frosty, an authentic German Christmas Market, and a snowless tubing hill. Another very popular event, all tickets must be purchased in advance. Additionally, all on-site vendors are cashless this year, so be sure to have a debit or credit card on hand.
The City of Tigard invites you to enjoy visiting festively-lighted homes along Christmas Card Lane and a handful of nearby streets by car or on foot from December 3-30. Start at Primo Espresso, where you can redeem your ticket for a free cookie and cocoa. View a map of the participating streets online or download a PDF here.
After the impressive switch last year to a car-based Zoolights experience, the 2021 edition is now offered in both an on-foot or by-car option. Because of the popularity of the event, reservations are required and often sell out. For everyone’s safety, admissions are based on time slots, so plan accordingly!
Zoolights runs November 19 – January 9 and is closed on December 25. Reserve your spot here.
While not your typical holiday lights opportunity, the Christmas Ships present a particularly Portland way to enjoy the season. Decorated ships lit up with festive lights and holiday decor cruise along the Columbia and Williamette rivers and published schedules, bringing the experience to Portland-area families at various viewing locations. The website outlines more about which ships are anticipated on each day, and they provide prime spots to make the most of your adventure with detailed maps of the ships’ routes.
Claiming to be “the largest show in the Northwest,” Portland International Raceway’s Winter Wonderland spans the track of the raceway for a drive-thru adventure of festive lights. Their 250+ animated displays are an annual hit, sometimes drawing in large crowds. Saturdays have the longest wait times; organizers encourage you to plan ahead and see if you can make one of the Mon-Thu 5:00-10:00pm options. The first hour, according to their website, is best, with little to no wait time.
NextDoor has created the ability for neighbors to list their homes on a “Cheer Map,” indicating they have holiday lights or displays for others to enjoy. If you belong to NextDoor, log in to see homes listed in your area. Individual details are sparse, but a quick look at your neighborhood map can give you a good idea which way to head out on foot or by car. Plus, if you have an awesome display, list your home for your neighbors to admire!