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Portland Christmas Lights

Portland Christmas Lights Guide -  Holidays are a time of tradition, and each year in Portland the Christmas lights and Holiday light displays provide an opportunity to create and renew a sense of tradition once more with your family, friends, and loved ones.  There are several popular Portland holiday lights displays throughout our city, from the Grotto, Zoo Lights, Portland Christmas Ships, Peacock Lane, and Portland International Raceway Christmas lights, to several other streets where Portlanders go to town with the Christmas lights on their homes and in their yards.  

One of my favorite holiday movies is (National Lampoon's) Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase's character stapling row after row of holiday lights to his rooftop in hopes of creating the single best holiday light display EVER for his family.  We do tend to build our hopes high during this season, and many people spend a lot of time and effort on their light displays for everyone to enjoy.   Fortunately, if you don't want to spend time decorating your own house and yard, you won't have to search far to find Christmas lights in Portland.

Christmas Grotto

The Christmas Grotto lights are one popular location to visit during the holidays. The Grotto is a beautiful 62-acre Catholic shrine and botanical garden located in Portland, Oregon.  As a place of solitude and serenity, The Grotto draws over 200,000 people a year for peace and spiritual fulfillment. The Grotto offers regular Catholic mass services, as well as several popular annual events such as the Grotto Festival of Lights for Christmas.   “The Grotto” is the popular name of The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother.  It is a non-profit organization supported solely by the proceeds of its gift shop and by donations. It is administered by the Order of Friars Servants of Mary, USA Province. (Source:

Visit our Portland Grotto page to learn more about the visiting times and information for the annual Grotto Festival of Lights and how you can enjoy this popular Portland Christmas lights display.

Portland Christmas Ships Parade

The Christmas ships give you an opportunity to see Portland Christmas lights in a unique way: on the river.  Ships, yachts, and all manners of boats are decked out for the holidays with light displays, then they float up and down the Columbia and Willamette rivers.  You can enjoy the Christmas Ships parade from several locations, and if you like, you can even be a part of the display by reserving a ride on the Portland Spirit.  The Portland Spirit cruise lines participates in the Christmas Ships Parade when it comes through town.  

2009 marks the 55th year for the Christmas Ship Parade on the Columbia and Willamette Rivers in Portland, Oregon. The Christmas Ship Fleet averages about 55 to 60 boats between the two Columbia and Willamette River fleets.

Visit our Portland Spirit page for additional information on the Portland Spirit and how to book a tour to enjoy the Portland Christmas Ships from a unique vantage point for holiday lights--on the boat!

Visit the Christmas Ships Parade website for information on visiting this event.

Christmas Ships Videos

Portland Peacock Lane

No tour of Portland Christmas lights would be complete without a tour to Peacock Lane.  Since the 1920s, this street in SE Portland has been decorating the tudor English cottage style homes with holiday lights.  If you live on this street, you get to participate in this annual traditional holiday event.  Portlanders flock from all over the city to come to this 4 block stretch to enjoy a little holiday nostalgia.  You can drive by in your car, but it's recommended that you park several blocks away and walk or take public transportation (or your bike!)  to this holiday event, because it gets packed and can become quite the traffic jam.  Portland carriage rides and caroling are also popular to complete the old-time feel of this Portland holiday light display.  If you'd like to read about the history of the building of Portland's Peacock Lane in the 1920's, check this article.

"Since the 1920s, each house in this quaint southeast neighborhood has been decorating for Christmas. Mostly Tudors, the houses are adorned with not only beautiful sparkling lights, but also nativity scenes, rotating Christmas trees and stunningly life-like replicas of Santa and Frosty. Be forewarned: this is a very popular Portland tradition and the crowds can get quite thick. It is wise to park several blocks away and walk, rather than drive through the area. Better yet, take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage." (

Visit the Peacock Lane website to learn more and view the annual dates and times for viewing Portland Christmas lights on Peacock Lane.

Portland Peacock Lane Videos

Zoo Lights Portland

Zoo Lights Portland Oregon is an annual event at the Oregon Zoo and is a wonderful tradition for celebrating the holidays in Portland. "See the zoo transformed into a winter wonderland, aglow with a million lights. More than 200 animated animals swing through trees, jump across lawns, hide in bushes and appear in places where they're least expected. Displays include swinging monkeys, leaping frogs, flying bats, diving penguins and a perfect-for-photos light sculpture featuring a dozen animals."  The Portland Oregon Zoo Lights event is much anticipated each year, and children will delight in the sparkling lights, animated displays, and zoo trains.  This is definitely one of the most fun ways to enjoy Portland Christmas lights in town.

Visit our Zoo Lights Portland page for additional information on visiting this fun holiday event.

Oregon Zoo Lights Video


Portland Raceway Christmas Lights

The Portland International Raceway Christmas lights display is another fun and unique way to experience holiday lights in Portland. Drive through the Winter Wonderland at the raceway and enjoy animated displays that are sure to delight the kids. "Recognized throughout the Pacific Northwest as the "Largest Holiday Light Show West of the Mississippi", the 17th annual Jubitz Winter Wonderland - Powered by Comcast will grab your attention with glimmers and glows around every corner.

Since 1993, a journey through Winter Wonderland has become a Holiday tradition for many families, friends, and social organizations to celebrate the spirit of the holiday season. Spectators can enjoy the most spectacular drive-through light show in the region, viewing over 250 colorful displays and 40 fully animated scenes from the comfort of their own vehicle .Visitors this year will be amazed to travel through the Tunnel of Lights, a 200 plus foot tunnel of lights that transports visitors to distant and magical lands.

Over one million spectators have taken the Winter Wonderland journey since its origin, helping to contribute over $460,000 and over 33 tons of food to local charities."

Visit the Winter Wonderland website for additional information about visiting this huge holiday light display.

Portland Raceway Christmas Lights Videos

Visit the Portland International Raceway page for additional information on visiting this Portland holiday lights event.


Looking for even More Portland Christmas Lights and fun Portland holiday things to do?  Here are some additional Portland Christmas events to check out.

Portland Christmas Event at Pittock Mansion

Miracle of a Million Lights at Queen Anne Mansion

Mt. Hood Railroad - The Polar Express

Christmas Fantasy Trail at Wenzel Farm

Gingerbread Display at the Benson Hotel

Portland Christmas Lights Map

View Portland Christmas Lights in a larger map

We hope you enjoy your visit to the city of Roses and to the Portland Christmas Lights displays in town.  If you have photos or videos  that you'd like to share, please contact us or post them yourself right on the Portland photo gallery and Portland videos page.  Looking for more ideas for things to do in Portland?  Visit our Portland Attractions page.

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