There's a chill in the air and Santa's on his way. As Christmas approaches in Portland, the National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, known locally as the Grotto, will be hosting it's annual Christmas Festival of Lights, typically running from the last week in November through the end of December. Since its inception in 1988, the event has become the largest Christmas choral festival in the world and the largest choral festival anywhere in the Pacific Northwest, with almost 170 performances expected in 2012.
Christmas Choir — Photo courtesy of Jeff Muceus
While the event includes plenty of kid-friendly entertainment – a live animal petting zoo and puppet shows to name a couple – the appeal of strolling hand in hand beneath 500,000 twinkling Christmas lights shouldn't be overlooked by couples looking for romance this holiday season. Come for a concert by a local school, church or civic choir before taking the quarter-mile walk through the lighted and narrated fiber optic holiday displays to the sounds of outdoor caroling. Check out the nativity collection from around the world, and if you're looking to pick up a last-minute Christmas gift, you can purchase individual nativity sets or other religious items in the gift shop.
Votive candles at the Grotto — Photo courtesy of David Kidd
Whether you come to the Festival of Lights for family fun or a little romance, the Grotto encourages you to bring along any canned or dried foods (baby food in particular is always in short supply) to benefit Snow-Cap, an affiliate of the Oregon Food Bank.