December Events for Portland Families


We’re closing out the year with a flurry of family-friendly fun in and around our fair city. Have a favorite wintertime adventure you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!

A snowman figurine sits in a pile of snow.

November 30 – December 30
Benson Hotel

Head to the Benson Hotel see its Gingerbread Masterpiece. Now in its 50th year, the 2022 theme is “Multnomah Falls,” honoring the popular destination, as well as the Benson Hotel, its founder, and the city of Portland.

Christmas Ships Parade

Schedule varies depending on fleets.
See website for details.

With some new boats as well as old favorites, the Christmas Ships parade aims to delight. Plan your viewing depending on your preferred fleet’s schedule, and enjoy the wonder of illuminated ships cruising along Portland’s waters.

Oregon Ballet Theatre's The Nutcracker

December 10 – 24
Keller Auditorium

The Keller Auditorium welcomes back the traditional holiday performance of The Nutcracker. Experience the beauty of ballet at any one of the  performances offered from December 10 through 24 (times vary) as you are carried away to the whimsical world of snowflakes and dancing toys, set to Tchaikovsky’s famous score.

Holiday Express

November 25 -December 18
Times vary, tickets required

Santa Claus and his elves bring kids on a magical around on vintage rail cars. The round-trip voyage goes from Oaks Park Station through through the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge to the Springwater Trail gateway on the Oregon Pacific Railroad. The trip lasts 40-45 minutes.


November 21 – January 5
Times and locations vary

This popular event at the Oregon Zoo is a “dazzling display of more than 1.5 million lights” throughout the zoo. After the success of their drive-thru version created due to the pandemic, the zoo is offering both a walk-through and drive-thru option this year on select nights. Reserve tickets in advance.

Menorah Lighting at Pioneer Courthouse Square

December 18-25
5:30 p.m.

Celebrate the “Festival of Lights” as Chabad of Oregon lights the public Hanukkah menorah at Pioneer Courthouse Square. There will be live music, foods, and festivities on the first night (December 18), beginning at 5 pm.

Cinnamon Bear Cruises

December 4, 10-11, 17-18, 22-24, and 26-27.

The Portland Spirit’s Cinnamon Bear Cruise is back after a three-year hiatus. The whole family can enjoy a tasty seated 2-hr cruise breakfast along the Willamette while the characters from Maybeland visit for storytelling and magic. This Portland event has been a family favorite for generations!

What do you love to do in December in or around Portland? Let us know in the comments!