Portland Things to Do

9 Best Christmas Lights in Portland – Including Free Light Displays!

November 25, 2023

Last Updated:

A favorite holiday outing in December is going to a Christmas light display. We have plenty of options in Portland for Christmas lights – ranging from free light displays like Peacock Lane or the Christmas Ship parade to ticketed events like drive through lights at ZooLights or Winter Wonderland. So here’s a roundup of all the best Christmas lights in Portland when you’re looking for events to celebrate Christmas in Portland.

Christmas Light Events in Portland

Here are our favorite Christmas light displays in Portland, Oregon. Starting with Christmas light “events” – like the drive through and walk through light displays that require tickets. Followed by our favorite free Christmas light displays and events around the Portland area.

1. Portland Winter Wonderland Lights at PIR

Bike the Lights at PIR Winter Wonderland Portland
Bike the Lights Night at Portland Winter Wonderland at PIR

If you don’t feel like braving the elements to see ZooLights or Light Festival at the Grotto, Winter Wonderland at PIR (Portland International Raceway) is a great option. Their holiday light festival is a drive through on the race track and self-described as “the largest holiday light show west of the Mississippi”. This is also a good accessible option for those that need it. And this is still a great holiday lights festival going in Portland that can be done while physically distancing! This year, they’re also bringing back a night for “Bike the lights” and another two nights for dog walking!

Bike the Lights is one night only – November 28, 2023. And Dog Night is November 27 & 29, 2023.

Portland Winter Wonderland at PIR
Portland Winter Wonderland at Portland International Raceway. Photo by: PWW

When: Friday, November 24, 2023 – December 31, 2023
Time: 5pm-10pm everyday, except 4:30pm-11pm on Fridays-Sundays
Where: Portland International Raceway
Cost: $37-48/car online (Bike the Lights: $15/adult, $5 kids, 5 & under free)
More Info: Winter Wonderland

2. Zoo Lights at the Oregon Zoo

Zoo Lights is a favorite for families. But you don’t have to have kids to enjoy ZooLights. Families with young kids tend to go right when it opens, and it usually clears out a bit later in the evening before closing. They also have an adults only evening for BrewLights, you guessed it, beer and ZooLights.

In past years, if you had a Zoo membership that got you in free to Zoo Lights. But since 2020, Zoo Lights is no longer free for members, but you’ll get a small discount. And remember, you still have to pay for parking – (there is not a drive-through option for 2023). Some families may qualify for discounted $12 tickets, (Oregon Trail, WIC etc.)

Zoo Lights at the Oregon Zoo Photo by: OregonZoo

When: November 19, 2023 – Jan 7, 2024. This year, offering Walk-through nights, and 2 nights of 21+ only, and 1 member-only preview night, and 1 sensory-friendly night.
Where: Oregon Zoo in Washington Park
Walk-Through Cost: $21/adults, $16/kids (age 2-11). Members 20% off: $16.8/adults, $12.80/kids
More Info: Oregon Zoo

3. Christmas Festival of Lights at The Grotto

The Grotto is one of our favorite places year round. And it’s especially colorful during the festival of lights. This Catholic shrine and garden is all decked out in lights, there are chorus performances and concerts and of course hot chocolate and meandering.

Christmas Lights at The Grotto
Christmas Lights at The Grotto Photo by: The Grotto

When: Friday Nov 24 through Saturday Dec 30, 2023 (closed Christmas Day)
Where: The Grotto, 8501 NE Skidmore St, Portland, OR 97220
Cost: $14/adults, $6 kids (age 2 & under: Free) online pre-purchase, plus 8 value nights for $12.
More Info: The Grotto

4. Victorian Belle House

Photo by: Victorian Belle House

This North Portland historic home in Kenton is a popular wedding venue and event space. Every December, they also decorate for Christmas and offer tours, light displays and pictures with Santa, Christmas carolers and more.

When: No General Admission for 2023. High Tea, live performances only
Where: Victorian Belle House, 1441 N McClellan St, Portland, OR 97217
More Info: Holidays at the Belle

5. Silverton Christmas Market at the Oregon Garden

Christmas Lights at the Oregon Garden. Photo by: Silverton Christmas Market

This light display is a little bit further from Portland (about a one hour drive), but definitely a consideration if you’re looking for a walk-through light festival that is a bit more low key than Zoo Lights etc. With over 100 million lights, German Christmas market and Santa, Biergarten, and snow-less tubing hill, this light display is more of a destination event!

When: November 17, 2023 – December 31, 2023 5-9pm
Where: Oregon Garden Resort – 895 W Main St, Silverton, OR 97381
Cost: $15-$20/adults, $5-8 kids (5 & under is free)
More Info: Silverton Christmas Market

Free Christmas Lights in Portland

6. Christmas Ship Parade

This Portland Christmas tradition has been going strong since 1954. They even had the Christmas Ship Parade going during 2020 – when it seemed like everything else was canceled! If there’s anywhere that physical distancing can be practiced it’s between boats. Each year, different routes and dates are announced, so you know where to watch and what direction the boats will be heading on the Willamette and Columbia Rivers.

Christmas Ships Parade on Portland rivers
Christmas Ships Parade on Portland rivers. Photo by: Christmas Ships

When: December 1-17, 2023 usually around 6 or 7p start
Where: Willamette River schedule and Columbia River schedule
Cost: free
More Info: Christmas Ships

7. Christmas Lights at Peacock Lane

Every year Peacock Lane in SE Portland has Christmas lights on from mid-December through New Years. It’s just one street Peacock Lane between SE Stark and Belmont St, one block east of 39th/Cesar Chavez Blvd. This street has been hosting Christmas lights since 1932! There are usually some days that allow vehicle traffic and some evenings that are pedestrian only.

We recommend parking at least 2-3 blocks away, as once you get close and stuck in traffic it can take a while to get out of the traffic and find a spot. Laurelhurst Park area and walk! Bundle up! And bring a thermos of hot chocolate. Some years they have a stand, but your cup will get cold in a heartbeat.

Peacock Lane Portland Christmas Lights
Peacock Lane Christmas Lights (maybe the Grinch did steal Christmas)

When: December 15-31, 2023 6pm-11pm. Pedestrian-only nights Dec 15-17, 2023.
Where: Peacock Lane, one block east of 39th/Cesar Chavez between Stark and Belmont
Cost: free
More Info: Peacock Lane

8. Giant Christmas Tree at Pioneer Courthouse Square

On the day after Thanksgiving, a giant 75′ Douglas Fir Christmas tree in Pioneer Courthouse Square is all lit up. There’s usually a bit of music, Santa, and festive atmosphere beyond just flipping the switch. But the holiday fun lasts all December. Stop by the Square in the evening to see the lights any day. Last year, they even had large colorful circles on the Square and music. Grab a holiday drink and do some downtown shopping!

Christmas Tree Lighting at Pioneer Courthouse Square
Christmas Tree Lighting at Pioneer Courthouse Square. Photo by: The Square in pre-COVID times!

When: Lighting Friday, November 24, 2023 (5:30pm-6:30pm), Christmas Tree all December
Where: Pioneer Courthouse Square, Downtown Portland
Cost: Free
More Info: The Square PDX

9. Christmas Lights in Portland Neighborhoods

Neighborhood light displays

Ah yes, the old fashioned way of finding great light displays. Walking, biking or driving through Portland neighborhoods and happening upon a super neat light display. The Nextdoor app is also a great place to find local lights, as some neighborhoods have christmas lights thread of cool houses. And hey, you’re not paying their electricity bill so let’s go enjoy some Christmas lights. Some neighborhoods that have had great light displays in the past: Irvington, Laurelhurst, Alameda, Eastmoreland etc.

When: all Holiday seasons
Where: your neighborhood of choice
Cost: free

Best Holiday Lights in Portland

In summary, here are our favorite Christmas light displays in Portland, Oregon.

  1. Winter Wonderland Lights at PIR
  2. Zoo Lights at the Oregon Zoo
  3. Festival of Lights at The Grotto
  4. Victorian Belle House
  5. Oregon Garden
  6. Christmas Ship Parade
  7. Peacock Lane Christmas Lights
  8. Pioneer Courthouse Square Tree Lighting
  9. Portland Neighborhoods

Happy holidays and I hope you enjoy your favorite Christmas lights display this season! Also check out my posts on Christmas in Portland, Things to do in December, and Winter in Portland.

Christmas Lights in Portland