Holiday Happenings Around Oregon

A menu of options for engaging in seasonal cheer—or, if you must, wallow in Christmas blues

By Emma Mannheimer December 18, 2015

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The Oregon Zoo's Steamer, decked out for ZooLights

Image: Oregon Zoo

Despite the drizzle, as Bill Nighy memorably crooned in Love Actually, “Christ-mas is all around us.” Indeed, no matter what manner of winter festivity you observe, the holidays have descended upon Stumptown in full force, with plenty of great deals and special offers to take advantage of. Whether you’re going, staying, or just looking to engage in some holiday carousing, here are your best bets for making the most of the season.

Elegant Getaways

Skamania Lodge
This Cascadian-style lodge situated in the Columbia River Gorge is turning up for the season, and we ain’t complaining. Get assistance from the lodge’s culinary team while you create a gingerbread masterpiece, then snuggle up by the fireplace for “Elf Story Time,” complete with a cup o’ cocoa. For a more refined evening, reserve a seat at chef Matt’s special dinner, with pairings from Washington’s L’Ecole winery. Welcome the New Year in style at the ballroom bash, featuring live music and a bountiful midnight breakfast buffet. 

The Allison Inn & Spa
Nobody needs that dreaded holiday stress lingering on into the new year. Release your gift-related tension at the Allison, located on 35 luscious acres in the Willamette Valley. The luxury resort is ringing in 2016 with the “Uncork & Unwind” package, available for one or two nights. The deal includes a bottle of champagne on the house, complimentary yoga and detox juices, a credit to the onsite restaurant, and discounts on all spa treatments. Indulge healthfully! 

Hotel Vintage
Make it a staycation this holiday with the “Upgrade Your Life” package at this luxe downtown spot. (Use the code PERKS when booking your room.) From December 20–30, guests can receive 25% any of the hotel’s spa suites, plus a bottle of wine made in our backyard. With a nightly wine hour featuring pours from Willamette Valley wineries, throw pillows proclaiming “I Try to Behave,” and private patio hot tubs, anything could happen this winter at Hotel Vintage.

The Ocular Spectaculars

Have you ever seen a 1.5 million lights, at once? If not (or even if you have), make sure your holiday season includes a visit to ZooLights at the Portland Zoo, which will rock your world from 5 to 9pm. Ride the rails enjoy the spectacular by train, taking in the kaleidoscopic colors that illuminate the zoo like you’ve never seen. It’s like a holiday themed Fantasia—without the scary parts.

Oregon Garden
If you’re looking to get your psychedelic light show on outside PDX, check out the Oregon Garden’s awesome seasonal pageant

Christmas Ships
Celebrating its 61st year on the river, Portland’s annual Christmas Ship Parade returns to the Columbia and Willamette Rivers with well over 60 ships on display. The watery pageant wraps up on the 20th, so make sure to get out there quick. Do yourself one better by joining the parade with an hour and a half long cruise that entices with cookies and blankets.

The Revelry

Stumptown SantaCon
Friends, enemies, ex-lovers, cousin of your nephew’s brother. Forget backgrounds—all that matters is the inner potential all residents of Stumptown possess to embody Ol’ Saint Nick himself and engage in the merriment of some good old-fashioned bar hopping. SantaCon 2015, themed Neon Lights, is to be held December 19 beginning at 3pm and ending in the Old Town district. With important rules like, “My name is Santa. Your name is Santa. We are Santa. Who’s in charge here? Santa!” it’s a safe bet that no Santa will be led astray.

“Brew Year’s Eve”
“Looking for a fancy New Year’s Eve shindig where you get dressed up to the hilt, graze a gourmet buffet, and dance the night away? Look away...this show is not for you.” Amp up your basic NYE celebration by head-banging the night away with Portland’s grittiest crowd. Featuring NW tribute bands shredding the sounds of Guns ‘N’ Roses, Metallica, and Dio, with pizza and fermented beverages at an arm’s reach, it will become clear that 2016 is going to rock.

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