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.

Plus, 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 Skibowl!

For beer lovers the Holiday Ale Festival is a must. Here beer fans can try 50+ brews in one place.

For ice skating, holiday lights and snowless tubing we've included the beautiful Oregon Garden.

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 considered one of the best holiday parades in the United States. 


Once a year in downtown Portland, in Pioneery Square there is a ridicously 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. Fun fact, 2019 is the 46th anniversary for TUBACHRISTMAS. 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: Tube 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 →

A Portland holiday tradition, the Holiday Ale Festival is an outdoor annual event taking place December 4th - December 8th, 2019 from 11am to 9:30 pm Wednesday through Sunday, and 11 am to 5 pm Sunday. Even though the temperatures may be on the chilly side, event goers flock to the festival to huddle around gas heaters and enjoy the region's largest decorated Christmas tree along with the 50+ winter ales being served. In order to try out various ales, patrons buy a souvenir mug and pay a minimal fee per sample. Food and craft vendors, a root beer garden for minors and seasonal music add to the fun of this unique affair.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Portland's Holiday Ale Festival is a beer lovers dream come true each December.

Meagan's expert tip: Free re-admission into the Festival all 5 days with wristband and current year's glass.

Read more about Holiday Ale Festival →

The 57th 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 years performance will include 26 new songs, including their own arrangments on traditional Christmas songs. This is an annual event that takes place every year at the end of November and the beginning of December. The 2019 Performance dates are November 22-24, 29-30, and December 1 at Keller Auditorium.

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 well in advance to get a discount. They also offer military and first responders.

Read more about Singing Christmas Tree →


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 shore side 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 →

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 the 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 →

Cinnamon Bear Cruise During the holidays the Portland Spirit offers a truly unique cruise perfect for families with young children, the Cinnamon Bear Cruise. Children will be delighted as they interact with 17 live characters in costume, participate in hands on activities and singalongs, enjoy storytime with a queen, and go on a treasure hunt. There's a snack buffet to make sure no-one goes hungry with options like fresh fruit, cereal, yogurt, hot chocolate, orange juice and milk. For the adults there is a bar. We recommend the Gangway Grand Nudge a coffee with Kahlua, Créme de Cocoa, and Grand Marnier topped with fresh whipped cream. This special cruise is available from November 30th through December 27th.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: A Cinnamon Bear cruise aboard the Portland Spirit is one of the most unique things to do in Portland during the holidays.

Meagan's expert tip: The price of the Cinnamon Bear cruise is the same regardless if you sail in the morning or the afternoon.

Read more about Portland Spirit →

Southeast Portland

The residents of Peacock Lane have been decorating their Tudor style homes for the holidays since the 1920's. Their legendary light displays continue each December from the 15th until the 31st from 6 - 11 PM. The residents will be serving free hot cocoa (although you can make a donation) and cider from the handmade booth in the center of Peacock Lane. 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.

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: Do not plan to drive down the block. Instead park nearby and walk over.

Read more about The Lights on Peacock Lane →

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 and 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 fund 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 →

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
Oregon Zoo

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. The staff work constantly to improve the living environments and enrich the lives of the many species they house. Exhibits mimicking the environments on all seven continents add to visitors' understanding of the natural world while offering great views of authentic animal behavior.

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.

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