9 Sparkly, Must-See Holiday Lights Displays in Oregon

Twinkly shows at the Oregon Zoo, Peacock Lane, the Oregon Garden, and more

By Cami Hughes With Isabel Lemus Kristensen

It's that time of year again: Holiday lights displays, like this one at the Oregon Zoo, are in full swing across the metro area. 

’Tis the season to go all out with your holiday traditions. Bake those cookies, chug the apple cider, and carol to your heart’s content. One of the best ways to celebrate is to feast your peepers on some splendid and sparkling holiday light displays. Whether you want to walk, drive, or sit through the lights this year, there’s a dazzling display out there for you.  

Portland-area events: 

Winter Wonderland at Portland International Raceway 

1940 N Victory Blvd
5–10 p.m. Mon–Thu, 4:30–11 p.m. Fri–Sun, through Dec 31; special hours 4:30–11 p.m. Dec 16–25 

It’s the 30th year of the Portland International Raceway’s drive-through holiday light show, which claims to be “the largest light holiday show west of the Mississippi” with more than 250 light displays and multiple animated scenes depicting your favorite Christmas carols (three French hens or five golden rings, anyone?). 

Tickets are $37 per car on weeknights and $48 on weekends, but if you want to show up in a limo or other such lavishly large vehicle, be prepared to pony up $80. 

Zoo Lights at Oregon Zoo 

4001 SW Canyon Rd 
5–9 p.m. through Jan 5; closed Christmas Day 

The Oregon Zoo has held its holiday light show since 1988 and is ready with 1.5 million lights for 2022. Take a walk through the colorful light displays or enjoy a drive-through experience on select nights. Imagine purple hippos bellowing next to your car, walking alongside swimming penguins, or adventuring through the jungle amongst alligators and jaguars with no fear of harm. Dive into their classic treats of elephant ears and hot cocoa, and beer and wine for the adults. 

Walk-throughs cost $24 on weekdays and $29 on the weekends for everyone twelve and older (if you’re a zoo member, you get a 20 percent discount on tickets). You have to buy these tickets in advance and select your entrance time (30-minute increments starting at 4:30 pm and ending at 8:00 pm), including drive-through days which are held on Tuesdays through Thursdays, November 22 to December 8, and January 3 to 5, and cost $65 per car. 

Festival of Lights at the Grotto 

8840 NE Skidmore St 
5–10 p.m. through Dec 16; 4:30–10 p.m. Dec 17–30; closed Christmas Day  

The Grotto’s Christmas festival bills itself as one of the world’s largest Christmas choral festivals, with nightly indoor concerts from different choirs, schools, churches, and other organizations from around the globe. Inside the peaceful grounds, you’ll see more than two million lights and be able to check out other events in the plaza, such as caroling, puppet shows, and musical guests. 

Buying tickets in advance is cheaper than buying tickets at the gate (where cash is not accepted). General admission for those 12 and older is $14 ($18 at gate), ages 3 to 11 is $6 ($8 at gate), and those 2 and younger are free. Pro tip: There are value nights November 28 to December 1 and December 5 to 8 where tickets are slightly cheaper. 

Peacock Lane is a quintessential experience for Portlanders who love holiday lights. 

Peacock Lane 

SE Peacock Lane (where SE 40th Avenue would be) between Stark & Belmont Streets 
6–11 p.m. Dec 15–31 

The festive light displays on Peacock Lane started in 1932 as a friendly competition between neighbors to see who could put up the best decorations, but it has exploded into a Portland rite of passage that pulls in hordes of Yuletiders every year. The cocoa booth is back this year with free cocoa and cider, and pedestrian only nights are offered December 15 to 17. You can expect dozens of houses along the block to be decorated; some have interactive displays you can walk through and use for Instagram-ready backdrops (we’re partial to the house with the Peanuts gang decor, ourselves.)  

Christmas Ships Parade 

Along the Columbia and Willamette Rivers; check website for specific dates and locations. 

Starting December 2, one of Oregon’s oldest holiday light shows will be floating down the Columbia or Willamette River. The Christmas Ships Parade began in 1954 when one lonely sailboat sailed down the rivers, but now there are up to 60 individually designed boats covered in holiday lights and Christmas scenes with a nautical twist (think Santa fishing or the Loch Ness monster repping a Santa hat). In order to pinpoint where the boats will be on a given night, you can find schedules online for the Columbia FleetWillamette Fleet, and when the two come together. 

Farther afield: 

Keizer Miracle of Christmas 

Starts at Lockhaven Drive and 14th Avenue NE  
6–10 p.m. Dec 2–26 

Similar to Peacock Lane, the Gubser neighborhood light display started as a blazing bulb battle between neighbors in 1984. After word got around about the festive displays, the event evolved into a fundraiser for the Marion Polk Food Share nonprofit. In 2021, the neighborhood brought in over $47,000 and collected over 22,000 pounds of food. 

Beaverton Winter Lights  

SW 5th St and SW Hall Blvd & 12655 SW Millikan Way, Beaverton 
Dec 3–Jan 5 

Beaverton’s downtown comes to life each holiday season with winter light displays and festivities, starting with a tree-lighting ceremony at 7 p.m. on December 3. Don’t miss the central City Park, where you can find their Candy Cane Lane and The Grove. Nearby Beaverton High School will be hosting a holiday marketplace in the parking lot next to the library and fountain on 5th street to benefit its students and programs.  

The North Pole in Lake Oswego

53 Eagle Crest Drive, Lake Oswego 
5–9 p.m. Fri-Sun, Dec 2 through 18

Take a peak inside Santa Claus' toy factory at this free display located in Lake Oswego's Mountain Park neighborhood. Sip a cup of hot cocoa and write a letter to the big man himself telling him everything you want this holiday season. No tickets or reservations are required, but donations are accepted and benefit St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. 

Umpqua Valley Festival of Lights 

380 River Forks Park Rd, Roseburg 
5:30–9 Sun–Thu, 5:30–10 p.m. Fri–Sat, through Jan 1 

The Roseburg Rotary Club is hosting its 29th annual holiday lights festival with over 90 light displays, including animated characters from Disney’s Frozen. It costs $10 per car to drive through, but on December 12, if you bring five cans of food for their drive, you can zoom through for free. 

Silverton Christmas Market 

895 W Main St, Silverton  
5–9 p.m. Nov 25–Jan 1; closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 

At Silverton Christmas Market you’ll find more than one million lights. Walk along the paths at Oregon Garden Resort and you’ll also find a biergarten, a snowless tubing hill, and an authentic German market filled with artisan vendors.  

Tickets for people aged 13 and older cost $18 Thursday to Sunday, and $15 Monday to Wednesday, $8 for people aged 6 to 12 Thursday to Sunday and $5 Monday to Wednesday. Ages 5 and under are free all week. 

Tumalo Creek Holiday Lights Paddle Parade 

450 SW Powerhouse Dr, Bend
4–5 p.m. Dec 9  

If you happen to be in Bend for this holiday season, you might want to make a stop by its annual Holiday Lights Paddle Parade, where paddlers decorate their canoes and kayaks with colorful lights and take them on the Deschutes River in the Old Mill District.