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

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 Jan 1; special hours 4:30–11 p.m. Dec 20–26 

It’s the 29th 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 $35 per car on weeknights and $46 on weekends, but if you want to show up in a limo or other such lavishly large vehicle, be prepared to pony up $75.

Zoo Lights at Oregon Zoo

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

The Oregon Zoo has held its holiday light show since 1988 and is ready with 1.5 million lights for 2021. While last year was drive-through only, this year a walk-through option is also available. 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 5:00 pm and ending at 8:30 pm), including drive-through days which are held from December 7 to 9 and January 4 to 6, 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

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.

Guests 12 and older have to bring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test from the past 72 hours, and the petting zoo will be closed this year. 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 ($16 at gate), ages 3 to 11 is  $7 ($8 at gate), and those 2 and younger are free. Pro tip: There are value nights from December 6 to 9 where tickets are slightly cheaper.

Holiday lovers walking down Peacock Lane. 

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. And after a year hiatus due to COVID, it’s back with some changes:  No cocoa booth this year, and no pedestrian only nights. 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 3, 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 over 55 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 Fleet, Willamette 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 3–26

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 2020 the neighborhood brought in over $40,000 and collected over 10,000 pounds of food.

Whimsical Winter Wonderland Light Show

12500 SW Fourth St, Beaverton
Dec 3–Jan 6

Although there won’t be a public tree-lighting ceremony this year, Beaverton is still encouraging people to walk around the city’s light displays. Don't miss the central City Park, where you can find their Candy Cane Lane and The Grove. The city is also providing a printable Christmas activity book for kiddos that includes some mad libs, a snowman maze, and some high-quality jokes like “Why did the girl keep her trumpet in the snow? Because she liked cool music.” Badoom tish.

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 28th annual holiday lights festival with over 90 light displays. It costs $10 per car to drive through, but on December 13, if you bring five cans of food for their drive, you can zoom through for free. 

Silverton Christmas Market

895 W Main St
5–9 p.m. Nov 26–Jan 9; closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

At Silverton Christmas Market you’ll find more than one million lights, 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, $5 for people aged 6 to 12 all week. Ages 5 and under are free all week. The tubing hill costs extra but looks hella fun.