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Downtown Portland: Your Home for the Holidays

For seasonal celebrations and shopping you just can’t find online, head downtown

Presented by Downtown Portland November 3, 2017

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Leave it to Portland—where a come-as-you-are, diversity-loving ethos is basically a mandate—to craft a set of holiday shenanigans that satisfy the wish list of families, brewhounds, shoppers and just about everyone else who loves a good dose of cheer. Nowhere else in the city can you find such a festive concentration of free performances, indie retailers, kid-friendly events and outstanding eateries. Whether you’re entertaining out-of-town guests or looking for a unique taste of the city for yourself, check out a few—or all!—of these holiday highlights. So make like Sasquatch—who will be biking and walking these blocks this season—and head downtown to experience the best of the Portland holidays.

Restaurant and store openings With 35 new eateries and stores opening this year, it’s easy to find a new favorite downtown. The Portland Food Hall, Italian-American Omertà and new locations for Afuri Ramen and St. Honore Bakery will fortify your plans for shopping and other holiday antics. And recently opened stores for Pendleton, Patagonia, Vans and Le Labo keep your shopping options open. 

Shop pop-ups Blink and you’ll miss the temporary set-ups of four local retailers. At the PDX Pop-Up Shops, which house artisans and makers in vacant storefronts Nov. 16 through Dec. 24, you can support indie businesses (not to mention snag one-of-a-kind gifts). Urban lifestyle brand dfrntpigeon sells t-shirts, totes and art prints designed by at-risk youth; The Chic Coop takes Portland’s love of chickens to a whole new tongue-in-cheek level by displaying its jewelry, handbags and other accessories in a henhouse-like set-up; and Animal. Plant. Mineral., an innovative retailer that minimally processes raw materials like cashmere and brass into statement pieces. You can also browse the handcrafted arts and goods at the Portland Saturday Market Indoors, an outpost of the open-air landmark-no umbrellas needed. Pop-Ups can be found in the Pioneer Place mall and Standard Insurance Center at SW 4th and Salmon.

Holiday festivities Portland’s Jewish community gathers every night of Chanukah to light the menorah in Director Park. The first night of the Festival of Lights, Dec. 12, includes music, traditional foods, children’s crafts and a lineup of community leaders from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Pioneer Courthouse Square’s annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, complete with a holiday sing-along, will bedeck a 75-foot Douglas Fir in its holiday best on Nov. 24 at 5:30 p.m. And Santa will be on-hand to listen to kids’ wishes for world peace (or, more realistically, a new Xbox) at Pioneer Place beginning Nov. 16. (BTW: Hipster Santa is in residence on Thursdays, and pets can visit the Big Man on Monday evenings.)

Hops and harmony Most of your family’s holiday traditions take place in the den, so it makes sense that the same goes for Portland’s Living Room. In Pioneer Courthouse Square, you can cheer on caroling groups as they throw down for bragging rights at the Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition (Dec. 8), listen to 275 tubas oom-pah-pahing holiday favorites at the 27th annual Tuba Christmas Concert (Dec. 9) and sip your way through 50 on-tap ales while admiring the square’s twinkling lights at the Holiday Ale Festival (Nov. 29 through Dec. 3). 

Shopping rewards You can earn raffle tickets and unlock prizes simply by shopping at downtown retailers participating in Little Boxes, an app-powered three-day event that celebrates small businesses. Simply download the free app and pop into these indie specialty shops from Nov. 24 to 26. 

Free parking On Sunday, Dec. 3, 10 and 17, leave your ride at SmartPark garages for free—and use the $5 kickback to treat yourself to a candy cane (or something stronger—whatever powers you through the season). Simply validate your ticket between noon and 5 p.m. at the PDX Pop-Up Shops in Pioneer Place (SW 5th and Morrison) or Boys Fort (902 SW Morrison). 

For more information on downtown happenings, visit DowntownPortland.org, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To participate in the conversation, use #downtownpdx and #PDXPopUpShops.