< Back to Blog
Holiday Events in North Portland

Everyone has their own traditions for the holiday season, but it’s always fun to find new ways to celebrate. There are a wide variety of holiday events in North Portland to enjoy with your friends and loved ones. Go to a Kwanzaa celebration or eat a Danish aebleskiver as you enjoy a traditional Scandinavian Christmas. And if you like holiday lights, there are plenty in North Portland. Here’s a roundup of some of the fun things to do in North Portland this month.

Christmas Ship Parade

Portland has hosted a Christmas ship parade since 1954, so it’s one of the oldest holiday events in North Portland. Over 60 boats will be lit up in this year’s parade. The show runs for fifteen nights. Six of those nights will have a combined fleet of ships (from both the Willamette and Columbia River fleets), so you’ll get to see twice as many ships.

Event details: The first parade is on Friday, December 4, at 7 p.m. at North Portland Harbor. Go here for more information and a full schedule.

Holiday Events in North Portland

Image owned by and courtesy of Christmas Ships, Inc.

Kenton Holiday Tree Lighting

The second annual Kenton holiday tree lighting is a great event for the whole family, especially little kids. Enjoy music, snacks, and hanging out with the community—Santa may even make an appearance!

Event details: Meet at the Paul Bunyan Plaza at Denver and Interstate on Friday, December 4, at 7 p.m.

Holiday Events in North Portland


If you’ve always wanted to learn more about Kwanzaa, a celebration of African-American heritage and culture, you’re in luck. North Portland hosts several Kwanzaa celebrations, which focus on the importance of community, family, and culture. The seven principles of Kwanzaa, known as Nguzo Saba, are:

  • Umoja (Unity)
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
  • Nia (Purpose)
  • Kuumba (Creativity)
  • Imani (Faith)

Portland Community College, Please Don’t Die Black Men, and the Black Student Union will be hosting a free Kwanzaa celebration for the community. A Kwanzaa feast will be held afterwards. Tickets for the feast are $18 ($6 for children) and must be purchased by Friday, December 4. Buy tickets here.

Event details: Friday, December 11, at 6:00 p.m. at the Moriarty Arts Auditorium, 705 North Killingsworth Street. Go here for more information.

The North Portland Library is also hosting its fifteenth annual Kwanzaa celebration. This year’s event will focus on Kujichagulia, or self-determination.

Event details: Sunday, December 27, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the Multnomah County Library, 512 North Killingsworth Street.

Holiday Events in North Portland

Image owned by and courtesy of soulchristmas


Celebrate the delights of a traditional Nordic Christmas at 2015’s ScanFair, one of the most energetic holiday events in North Portland. Here are some highlights:

  • Live music and dance
  • Scandinavian arts and crafts marketplace
  • Crowning of Oregon Lucia, Queen of Light, on Sunday
  • Joulupukki, the Finnish Santa Claus
  • Kids area with traditional Scandinavian crafts, including woven hearts and Swedish poppers to decorate the Christmas tree
  • Scandinavian food, including meatballs, baked goods, pickled herring, and plenty of coffee!
  • All-you-can-eat contests: meatballs at noon on December 5 and pickled herring at noon on December 6

Event details: Saturday, December 5, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, December 6, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Portland Veterans Memorial Coliseum, 300 North Winning Way. Go here for more information about ScanFair.

Holiday Events in North Portland

Image owned by and courtesty of the Scandinavian Heritage Foundation

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland might be the most impressive of all the holiday events in North Portland. With over 250 light displays (many of them fully animated), Winter Wonderland is known as the largest light show west of the Mississippi. USA Today even recognized it as one of ten great places to go see holiday lights. It is clearly the most spectacular drive-through light show anywhere around, and it’s now in its twenty-third year.

Event details: The show runs most nights from November 26 through December 27 (yes, you can even go on Christmas day), but early December and weeknights are best if you want to avoid a big crowd. For more information, including rates and times, go here.

Holiday Events in North Portland

Image owned by and courtesy of Winter Wonderland

Holiday Events in North Portland and Beyond

There are many other things to do throughout the city during the holiday season. Read this great roundup of other 2015 events. Enjoy the wide variety of activities and celebrations around you!

Featured photo courtesy of and owned by Christmas Ships, Inc.

< Back to Blog