December in Portland is the coldest, wettest, and darkest month of the whole year. It’s a good thing we have the holiday season and outings to distract us. But of course, you will find some bluebird days in December. Proof is that I took this picture in December at a winery in the Willamette Valley. So here’s more information about visiting Portland in December – events, weather and the best things to do in Portland, Oregon at the start of winter. Jump to:
Portland December Events
- Christmas Tree Permits become available to cut your own tree from US Forest Service
- Portland Trailblazers Season – home games Dec 2-29, 2021
- Holiday Ale Fest – first weekend of December (Canceled 2021!). The next weekend after Thanksgiving is the Portland Holiday Ale Fest. It’s pretty cool to drink seasonal beers under the giant Christmas tree at Pioneer Courthouse Square.
- Portland Night Market – Dec 2-5, 2021. This quarterly night market in the Central Eastside features all kinds of vendors, food, shopping, and more.
- Columbia Gorge Model Railroad Club Show – Dec 4-5 weekend. This annual train show in NE Portland is pretty cool to see – both for train enthusiasts and families.
- Beyond Van Gogh – Nov 19 – Jan 9, 2022. This immersive art exhibit features artwork by Van Gogh, along with lights and music. Oregon Convention Center.
- Holiday Half, 10k, 5k – December 12, 2021
- Whale Watching on Oregon coast – mid-December to mid-January is the seasonal winter migration of grey whales southbound. Best viewing spots are on central coast or from capes like on the Three Capes Scenic Loop.
- Christmas Lights in Portland – There are quite a few annual Christmas light events in Portland. Our favorites are Zoo Lights at the Oregon Zoo, and the Festival of Lights at The Grotto. And there’s Peacock Lane, a drive-through lights called Winter Wonderland at PIR, and even a Christmas Ship Parade! Both Winter Wonderland and the Christmas ships were a go for 2020.
- Christmas Events in Portland – beyond light displays, there are tons of Christmas events from performances, music, art, and holiday markets.
- Portland Concerts – the best resources for live music listings is WWeek’s Music Calendar (they also have art/performance/show listings), and Portland Mercury’s Music Calendar now by EverOut (and if it’s too cluttered, tap the star “Recommended” to see fewer listings).
>>Read more about all the Portland Christmas Events for 2021 here.
Things to Do in Portland in December
We often forget that most of December is still technically fall. But if you’ve moved on to winter activities, that’s ok too. December is a busy time because of the holidays. Each year I try to do a Portland advent calendar with experiences and adventures around the city. Some of those things usually include seasonal ales and holiday events.
Our favorite things to do in Portland, Oregon in December are Blazers games, Christmas shopping at all the popup markets, eating donuts (not strictly a December outing), picking out a Christmas tree, shopping for books at Powell’s Books and seeing all the downtown lights, and doing at least one Christmas tree lights outing (Peacock lane, Grotto, Zoolights etc). And if we get enough snow, a visit to Mt Hood National forest for some snowshoeing or just playing in the snow.
Portland Weather in December
Note: If you want to know about the weather you can visit a weather website. But one of the most frequent texts I get from friends about to visit Portland is about the weather. So that’s why I include this weather section. It’s how to interpret Portland weather forecasts by a local. :)
The weather in Portland [Oregon] in December is the coldest and wettest of the whole year! It’s also the darkest month of the year (along with January) with only 9 hours of total daylight per day and averaging a 4:30pm sunset. Sunrise moves from about 7:30am to 8am. So it’s dark when you leave for work and dark when you leave work. And they say “it’s the most wonderful time of the year?” Hmm… merry Christmas!?
The average December temperatures are highs in the mid 40s and lows in the mid 30s. Combined with the rainiest month of the year, and sometimes a surprise snow, December is definitely hello to winter in Portland. December averages 15 days of rain and 6.8″ of rainfall. With an occasional dusting of snow for a total of .8″ on average for the month, December ranks 3rd for your highest chance of snow in Portland!
Portland Historical Average December Weather by Day
Here are the High & Low Temperatures by average for December in Portland.
And with that, I wish you a happy December and happy holidays!