Best Things to Do in December in Portland

10 Exciting Things to do in Portland, Oregon During December

One of the most enjoyable times of the year to visit Portland, Oregon is December.

Throughout the month there are unique activities that are only available during the month of December like indulgent holiday teas at boutique hotels and holiday lights in historical neighborhoods. This year there are many places canceling their events, but lucky for you many are staying open with slight modifications. 

December is always the perfect time to head up to Mt. Hood for skiing, snowboarding, and tubing. We've included the best place to ski Timberline Lodge and the only place there is to cosmic tube in the United States, Skibowl! Both are perfect social distancing activities. 

For those looking for one-of-a-kind gifts, the Portland Night Market is a must. 

And of course, no December list in Portland could be complete without the Christmas Ship parade. This parade is free to watch along various rivers and is considered one of the best holiday parades in the United States. 


Southeast Portland

The residents of Peacock Lane have been decorating their Tudor-style homes for the holidays since the 1920s. Their legendary light displays are back this year and will run from December 15th until the 31st from 6 - 11 PM. Peacock Lane is between SE Stark St. and SE Belmont St. and one block east of SE 39th. You can drive directly down the street or you can find somewhere nearby to park and walk around. Visit during the week for smaller crowds. For 2021 there will not be any pedestrian-only nights and no hot chocolate booth. Bring your own hot chocolate!

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The residents on Peacock Lane go all out during the holidays with their holiday lights and decorations. Plus, it's free!

Meagan's expert tip: Park nearby and walk over, it takes a long time to drive down the road.

Read more about The Lights on Peacock Lane →

The 58th Singing Christmas Tree is a dazzling two-hour production to spread the message of "Peace, Joy, Hope, and Love". The impressive Christmas tree choir is made up of 350 adult and youth voices and the dance numbers are done by the Jefferson Dancers. The special numbers feature local actors and musicians. This year's performance will be scaled down due to Covid, but still just as magical. This is an annual event that takes place every year at the end of November and the beginning of December. The 2020 Performance will take place online only. You can purchase tickets on their website.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The Singing Christmas Tree is a beloved event that everyone looks forward to each year.

Meagan's expert tip: Order your tickets in advance to get a discount. They also offer military and first responders discounts.

Read more about Singing Christmas Tree →

Once a year in downtown Portland, in Pioneer Square there is a ridiculously fun gathering of tubas. Those tubas join together to play Christmas carols. Watching 200+ tubas play carols together is always enjoyable and a little wild. This year's annual event takes place on Saturday, December 14th at 1:30 pm. Despite Covid issues, this event is not canceled. Watch their website for announcements. If you are a tuba player there is a $10 fee to join in the fun. To watch the concert is completely free. You can stand and watch or you can attempt to sit on the steps of Pioneer Square.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Tuba Christmas is a lively event that everyone will love.

Meagan's expert tip: Departures at the Nines hotel has a decent view of Pioneer Square perfect for watching this concert.

Read more about Tuba Christmas →


More unforgettable experiences in Portland


The Cinnamon Bear Cruise is looking a little different for 2021 due to the pandemic. It is not canceled. Instead, this year it is taking place in the parking lot of Oaks Park. Fans can watch from the safety of their own vehicle. The show is taking place Thursday -Sunday from November 27-December 31 twice a day at 4-5:30 PM and again at 6-7:30 PM. The cost is $49 per vehicle. Oaks Amusement Park is one of the oldest, continuously operating amusement parks in the country. Built in the early 1900s, Oaks Park is a collection of classic entertainment and smaller thrill rides. While the outdoor rides close during the winter months, the famous roller rink is open year-round. Oaks Amusement Park is also home to the Multnomah County Fair held in early summer.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The annual holiday show, The Cinnamon Bear is a long- standing Christmas tradition in Portland. now at the Oaks Park parking lot.

Meagan's expert tip: You must make a reservation for the show in advance and you may have up to six people per vehicle.

Read more about Oaks Park →

Mount Hood Railroad offers a special train to Christmas town during the holiday season. During the train ride, elves dance in the aisles leading Christmas sing-alongs. When they sing the "Chocolate Christmas" song it's time for cookies and hot chocolate to be served! Along the way, kids will see Santa and his elves out the window getting ready to deliver the presents. Also, during the ride kids will be able to play a game of I-Spy as they look for animal friends hidden throughout the car like the gentle snowy owls and Bubble and Squeek the chatty mice that frequent the train.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The Mount Hood Railroad's Train to Christmas Town is a unique and fun thing for families to do in December.

Meagan's expert tip: If you book a group of 25 or more you can receive a discount on tickets.

Read more about Mount Hood Railroad →

The Portland Night Market is an incredible collection of funky handmade items for sale. While a DJ spins records and food carts crank out their latest and greatest you can slowly meander your way through booth after booth of delightful items. Almost all of the vendors are locally owned businesses including popular companies like Orox Leather Co and Portland Gear. During December the market is full of festive holiday gifts and decor. For 2021 the Portland Night Market will be taking place December 2 - 5th. This is an alcohol-friendly event which means there will also be local brews and wineries on hand.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The Portland Night Market is uniquely Portland. A collection of the best things Portland has to offer including food, drinks, and goods.

Meagan's expert tip: Get there as early as possible to avoid a wait to get in. It gets extremely crowded.

Read more about Portland Night Market →

Cosmic Tubing Skibowl Skibowl offers cosmic tubing in the evening and at night during the weekend. While black lights and colored lights illuminate the area, the latest pop music hits blast over outdoor speakers, kids and adults can tube at night. The lower area offers at least 6 tube lanes and the upper has at least two lanes. The lower lanes have a conveyor belt that will take you and your tube to the top of the hill. However, those that want to head up even higher will have to walk up but know that it is worth the walk.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Skibowl offers all-day fun with snow tubing during the day and cosmic snow tubing at night.

Meagan's expert tip: Pack some hot hands and hot feet to help keep kids warm on the mountain.

Read more about Mt. Hood Skibowl →

Going strong for 63 years, this annual Christmas event features 55 - 60 ships of all sizes bedecked with sparkling holiday lights. Each night for two weeks, boat owners proudly cruise the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, providing holiday cheer to shoreside onlookers. To find out which river the boats will be on visit their website with full details. The Christmas Ships will be host a "Meet & Greet" event in December on the public dock (downtown Portland) in front of the RiverPlace Hotel. This is the perfect way to see the Christmas Ships up close and personal, meet the captains, take pictures, meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, or just enjoy the holiday season.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: In December there are 15 nights to see the Christmas Ship Parade one of the best holiday parades in the nation.

Meagan's expert tip: Visit the Christmas Ship Parade website to find out where the ships will be.

Read more about Christmas Ship Parade →

At the top of Mt. Hood is Timberline lodge offering some of the best skiing and snowboarding on the mountain. With it being at the top, the snow is typically the best on the mountain. Timberline currently has 41 trail runs ranging from beginner to advanced. They even have a Freestyle terrain park with jumps, hits, ramps, banks, fun boxes, jibs, rails, halfpipes, quarterpipes, snowcross, bump terrain and other constructed or natural terrain features. For beginners they offer lessons and for those needing equipment they have plenty of rentals available. They also have six restaurants and bars including The Cascade Dining Room and Ram's Head Bar and Restaurant.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Timberline Lodge offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding on Mt. Hood.

Meagan's expert tip: Purchase your tickets from a local hotel like Best Western in Government Camp to get a discount.

Read more about Timberline Lodge →

Financial District

Zoolights During the Holiday Season, more than a million bulbs create a shimmering wonderland called Zoolights. For an extra fee, you can ride the train and see many of the lights without having to walk all around. Among Portlanders with kids, spending a day at the zoo is probably the most favorite of family activities. Located up above the city in Washington Park, the zoo is home to more than 1000 animals. They have various areas mimicking the environments on all seven continents to help visitors' understanding of the natural world while offering great views of authentic animal behavior. During Zoolights you will not see many animals except elephants and monkeys but you will enjoy all the lights. Their restaurant is open during the event in case you want to grab dinner.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Zoolights is a unique way to experience the Oregon Zoo during December.

Meagan's expert tip: Check the weather and try to attend Zoolights on a night it will not be raining or at least not as cold.

Read more about Oregon Zoo →


Meet Meagan Wristen

Meagan Wristen is an Oregon resident by choice and thinks Portland is a tremendous city that everyone should visit. Originally a Texas girl, she has lived all around the United States,...  More About Meagan