Winter is upon us, and with shorter nights and colder temperatures, it’s tempting to hunker down at home. Yet Oregon offers plenty of excuses to get out and about during the coziest time of the year. From bedazzling light displays to celebrations of the arts, here are some Oregon events that will have you ready to bundle up and head out the door.
Umpqua Valley Festival of Lights, Roseburg (Nov. 20, 2022–Jan. 1, 2023): Holiday-light fans won’t want to miss Riverforks Park’s annual drive-through experience, a fundraiser for the Roseburg Rotary Club. The festival features at least half a million lights throughout more than 90 displays, including animated Disney characters and the world’s largest nutcracker.
Holiday in the Grove, Forest Grove (Nov. 1, 2022–Dec. 3, 2022): Ring in the festive season with this annual celebration, which includes decorative storefronts, a stocking-design contest and a holiday-light parade. Plus, don’t miss visiting their artisans holiday market to shop for local handmade ornaments.
Silverton Christmas Market, Silverton (Nov. 25, 2022–Jan. 1, 2023): This Oregon spin on a traditional German Christmas market includes food and gift vendors, visits from Santa and a biergarten with live music. There’s even a light path decked out with over a million twinkling fairy lights, and a snow-less tubing hill and hot cocoa for all-ages fun.
Victorian Christmas, Jacksonville, (Nov. 26, 2022–Dec. 18, 2022): Celebrate Christmas like a Victorian with Jacksonville’s best-known annual event, which includes visits from Father Christmas, a tree-lighting ceremony and a Victorian-inspired Christmas parade on December 3.
Christmas Ships Parade, Portland (Dec. 2-21, 2022): Now in its 68th year, this annual tradition brings cheer to the Willamette and Columbia rivers, with parading boats decked out with colorful lights and holiday displays.
Bear Grease the Musical, Madras (Dec. 20, 2022): Come see this Indigenous twist on “Grease,” the classic musical, at a one-time-only performance on the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation in Central Oregon. Originating in Canada, the show brings its all-Indigenous cast in a combination of hip hop, parody, improv and freestyle for a musical-theatre production that offers a new historical perspective. Book tickets here.
Globe at Night, statewide (December 1-24): Join in this international campaign to raise awareness of the impact of light pollution. Wherever you are in Oregon, you’re invited to measure the night-sky brightness and submit your observations from your computer or mobile device. The data is used to monitor levels of light pollution around world, and learn about impacts of light pollution on plants, animals and human health. The campaigns happen each month and take place when the moon is not out. Find the Globe at Night app on your smartphone to learn more and join in.
Oregon Whale Watch Week, Dec. 28-Jan. 1, 2023 (Coastwide): In-person whale-watching with interpretive guides is back this year, after a hiatus since 2019. Trained volunteers will be stationed at 17 locations coastwide to help visitors spot thousands of gray whales as they make their winter migration along the Coast. Check out the best spots to watch whales, or head to the Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay for more.
First Day Hikes, Jan. 1, 2023 (statewide): Bundle up and ring in the new year with some fresh air and gorgeous scenery. Oregon State Parks is hosting its annual First Day Hikes, with rangers leading guided hikes at 22 state parks. These are free and open to the public, but advance registration is required. Check posted details on accessibility, pets and winter conditions for the best experience, and pack your winter hiking essentials.
Portland Music Month, Jan. 1-31 (Portland): Celebrate live music during the dark winter nights at more than 15 beloved Rose City music venues during the month of January; check the calendar for the lineup and book tickets in advance. Enjoy performances by a range of indie, hip hop, rock, classical, folk, EDM, R&B, blues, jazz artists and more. Every show has been curated by local bookers, and a portion of ticket sales from each show go to fund independent musician empowerment grants. Producing partners for Portland Music Month are MusicOregon and MusicPortland, both nonprofits dedicated to advancing and supporting musical opportunities for all.
New Year’s Day Peace Hike, Yachats (Jan. 1, 2023): The Yachats Trail Committee will host 12th Annual Peace Hike honoring the memory of a Native American woman named Amanda who was take from her home in what is now Yachats in 1864. The ceremonial event is led by tribal members and includes ceremonial drumming, fire lighting, setting of intentions and a walk along the Amanda Trail.
Eagle Cap Extreme Sled Dog Race, Joseph (Jan. 18-21, 2023): This annual dog-mushing event in the snow-capped Wallowa Mountains features races ranging from 22 to 200 miles. You can visit with dogs and mushers the day before at vet checks, staged in Enterprise and Joseph.
The Dalles Dam Visitor Center Eagle Watch, The Dalles (Jan. 21, 2023): Bring your binoculars to this 13th-annual free, accessible family event, designed for wildlife enthusiasts looking to see bald eagles at the peak of their winter activity. The event includes ranger talks and video presentations. Experts with spotting scopes are also on hand to answer questions. Stop into the visitor center that week and learn about what threats are facing eagles and other raptors, and what you can do to help.
First Taste Oregon, Salem, (Jan. 27-28, 2023): Taste a huge variety of wines, beers, ciders and spirits at this annual expo. There are also plenty of food booths, so you can also sample the region’s best eateries.
Winter Music Festival, Florence (Jan. 27-29, 2023): This three-day event creates a platform for acoustic music artists, with a particular focus on folk-music performances. The festival hosts concerts, workshops and open jam sessions.
Portland Winter Light Festival, Portland (Feb. 3-11, 2023): Now in its eight year, this whimsical event adds sparkle to the late winter season, with immersive light installations all over the city.
McMinnville Short Film Festival, McMinnville (Feb. 23-26, 2023): Watch short films from around the world while sipping on local wine at this annual event.
Oregon WinterFest, Bend (Feb. 17-19, 2023): Winter is feted in full force at this high-desert event, with live music, ice carving, food and craft vendors, and lots of activities for kids.
Winter Wings Festival, Klamath Falls (Feb. 17-20, 2023): Birds take center stage at this famous Southern Oregon birding hot spot, which offers presentations, guided walks and plenty of opportunities for immersing in nature.
FisherPoets Gathering, Astoria (Feb. 24-26, 2023): This event attracts nearly 100 poets, songwriters and storytellers to town as they wax lyrical about life at sea.