It’s that time again, time to drink hot cocoa, spend some much deserved time off with loved ones, and of course go see beautiful Christmas light displays. I have put together a list of some of the best places I could find to see Christmas lights in Oregon. These places are magical and truly beautiful, we really owe it to the people who put in the hard work every year to make it a special holiday for all Oregonians.
1. The Pastega Christmas Light Display (formely at Corvallis Pepsi Plant)
The Pastega Christmas Light Display is holiday tradition in Corvallis going back to 1981.
One of my favorite memories going to visit my grandparents in the Salem area was driving through the Corvallis Pepsi plant to see the light display which has been going strong every Christmas for 25 years. A spectacle of plywood cutouts, Christmas lights, and canned music, the local paper reports 40,000 visits per year to this drive-through Christmas pleasure. Every year the lot outside a small Pepsi Cola factory was transformed into a Christmas paradise.
Plywood cut-outs of Disney characters, Santa Clauses, angels, and even an Oregon Beaver jingle and jangle on small motors, adorned with Christmas lights. On a good night, near Christmas, it takes twenty minutes just to get into the driveway.
For 31 years the Pepsi Bottling Plant hosted the popular display. After the death of founder Mario Pastega, the display moved across town to the Benton County Fair Grounds. Display pieces are created and maintained by community members. 400 – 700 cars enjoy the display each day.
2. Christmas Festival of Lights in The Grotto
The Grotto in Portland is one of the most popular places this time of the year during the holidays. This particular stunning image comes from a friend, Ben Abroleda, who has contributed many beautiful photos to That Oregon Life. One event you don’t want to miss at The Grotto is the winter choir performances which are held every year.
SCHEDULE (more info here)
- Friday after Thanksgiving thru December 30
- Nightly 5 – 9:30 p.m. (Festival grounds close at 10 p.m.)
- Closed Christmas Day
3. The Oregon Zoo
You can’t go wrong with the beautiful lannual ZooLights festival at The Oregon Zoo in Portland, where you’ll see a dazzling display of a whopping million and a half lights.
4. Portland Christmas Ships
The Christmas Ship Parade started in 1954 with one lone sailboat from Portland Yacht Club. Bows of green with some ribbon where tied along the rails and it paraded on the rivers. The next year the parade started to grow.
Today, the Christmas Ship Fleet averages about 55 to 60 boats between the Columbia and Willamette River fleets. Things have changed from the first lone ship. Now the displays are brightly lit and can be seen from bank to bank on each river.
Each boat owner designs and builds their lighted Christmas display and pays their operating costs which includes fuel. Many of the displays can be seen each year, but new boats join the flotilla each year and bring with them new Christmas oriented lighted exhibits.
5. Christmas in the Garden
Looking for a a more relaxing holiday tradition? Don’t miss Oregon Garden’s Christmas in the Garden. Silverton’s 80-acre flower, tree, and bush wonderland is only about an hour from Portland and features 400,000 lights during the holidays and is complete with roaming carolers, and a German village-inspired holiday bazaar. Are you ready for the best part? They even feature live reindeer on select weekends. This year the Garden, which is only about an hour away from Portland has even added a 3,500 square foot covered ice rink surrounded by Christmas trees and snow flakes. It’s straight up magical.
More info at www.oregongarden.org.
6. Newport Lighted Boat Parade
Come down to the bayfront and enjoy the start the holiday season every year with the Lighted Boat Parade. Local boats decorated with festive lights parade along the historic bayfront. While the parade has already happened this year, it’s scheduled for December 3 in 2016, starting at 12am.
7. StarFest Light Display
From Thanksgiving to New Years enjoy Starfest takes place outside of bend, a mile long animated holiday light exhibit adjacent to the Lodge along Falcon Crest Drive. Walk, drive or hitch a ride on a horse-drawn wagon and marvel at the spectacular display. Wagon rides run every Friday and Saturday from November 27th until December 19th.
The rides take place on the hour from 6 to 8 p.m., with complementary hot chocolate or tea at the end of the route. Wagon rides are $11 for adults, $5 for children ages 5-13 and free for those younger than 5.
StarFest continues through Jan. 2.
As part of the holiday festivities, the Inn at Eagle Crest will also feature cookie decorating at Birdies Café. Cookies are $2 each. Story time with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus takes place Friday and Saturday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m.
Driving through the resort for the light display is free, but canned goods to benefit local food banks can be dropped off at the lighted sleigh at the resort entrance.
Contact: 541-923-2453 or www.eagle-crest.com.
8. Miracle of a Million Lights (Portland)
For most of the month of Decembe,r Victorian Belle is known as “The Miracle of a Million Lights” and is open to the public for tours of the decorated house and grounds. The entire 2.5 acres is filled with a million plus twinkling lights that turn this historic Portland landmark into a Christmas wonderland!
Tour the richly appointed historic Victorian Belle aglow with 10 uniquely-decorated Christmas trees and decorations. View rooms filled with period antiques and vintage heirlooms. (More info here)
9. PIR Winter Wonderland
USA Today called it “One of 10 great places for families to see Christmas lights”. Recognized throughout the Pacific Northwest as the “Largest Holiday Light Show West of the Mississippi”, the Winter Wonderland powered by Advantis Credit Union, will grab your attention with glimmers and glows around every corner.
Since 1993, a journey through Winter Wonderland has become a Holiday tradition for many families, friends, and social organizations to celebrate the spirit of the holiday season. Spectators can enjoy the most spectacular drive-through light show in the region, viewing over 250 colorful light set pieces and many fully animated scenes from the comfort of their own vehicle.
Over two million visitors have taken the Winter Wonderland journey since its origin. More info at winterwonderlandportland.com.
10. Festival of Lights at Riverforks Park
The Festival of Lights has become an annual tradition in Douglas County, drawing nearly 30,000 visitors in 2014 and generating hundreds of thousands of dollars for Rotary Club scholarships since beginning in 1993.
The Festival of Lights opens at Riverforks Park at 5:30 every night from now to January 1.
While visitors once again enjoy 90 light displays containing nearly 500,000 and all the traditional attractions that have made the Festival famous, some new additions will make the experience even more unforgettable. More info at www.umpquavalleyfestivaloflights.com.
11. Aspen Meadow Celebration of Lights
Bring your family and friends to Colton, OR and rejoice in the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings of this miraculous season. Stroll our grounds and see how each area is uniquely designed to reflect this year’s theme of “One Glorious Day”.
With over 150,000 lights, carolers, an interactive children’s area, a miniature train village, videos, multiple indoor and outdoor displays, and warm refreshments, there’s something to spark the light within each soul.
More info here at aspenmeadowlights.com.
12. Shore Acres Holiday Lights
Thanksgiving thru New Year’s Eve – 4:00 – 9:30 PM every night (including Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Walk-thru Display – All abilities accessible. Open Garden House with hot cider, punch, coffee and cookies!
Ultimate Bed & Breakfast Raffle
This tour bus below will take you from Florence to Shore Acres, hit the link here to find out more!
During the 2014 season, an estimated 45,558 visitors viewed the lights display and enjoyed the refreshments in the beautifully decorated Garden House and the entertainment in the Performance Pavilion. (More info here at shoreacres.net)
13. Azelea Park
Brookings’ Azalea Park is transformed into a Holiday Wonderland with 500,000 lights and sculptures, attracting thousands of people from around the Northwest.
Open nightly from 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Admission for adults is $1.00 each. The light show runs Sunday, Dec 1st, 2016 – Tuesday, Dec 24th, 2016. Children under twelve are free. Admission includes hot cider and cookies.