ILLUSTRATION: Adam Krueger
The start of the Christmas season in Portland has always been sparked by one particularly bright bulb—Rudolph’s red nose glowing forth from the Made in Oregon sign. Despite the ongoing drama surrounding the sign’s ownership, the stag’s nose is ablaze again this season, just as it has been for the past 49 years (thanks to Ramsay Signs’ Darryl Paulsen, who is footing the bill). But our city is filled with far more quirky holiday marvels than just one electrified mammal. Here are three more of our fave PDXmas traditions.
Trail Band Christmas
Tired of the standard Christmas carols? The Trail Band provides you with a solution. Performing both songs from the 19th century and original music in the same style, eight local musicians (two of whom used to sell out stadiums in the ’80s with their band Quarterflash!) get festive with an arsenal of mandolins, hammered dulcimers and other obscure instruments you would have found on the Oregon Trail. Skeptical? This is the group’s 15th year performing the show to often-sold-out crowds. The Aladdin Theater, 3017 Milwaukie Ave., 234-9694, aladdin-theater.com. Thursday–Sunday Dec. 10-13. 7 pm. Weekend matinees at 3 pm. $18.50, $27.50, $37.
Trees by Bike
In Oregon, we like to keep things as green as possible. More and more Portlanders are ditching their cars and opting for more sustainable modes of transportation. But who wants to be the dude with a Christmas tree on the MAX? New biz Trees by Bike brings locally grown holiday foliage to you on two wheels and gives 10 percent of the proceeds to charity. With sizes and prices ranging from table-top Doug firs ($20) to 8-foot noble firs ($45), there’s a tree for everyone. Give founder Max Kirchoff a thumbs up if you see him carting a shrub around town on the back of his modified Kona Humu single-speed. Reserve your tree at treesbybike.com.
PIR Winter Wonderland
Think Peacock Lane is dinky? Pile in the car and head to Portland International Raceway’s Winter Wonderland for a gaudy display of oversized holiday lights. Since Winter Wonderland’s opening in 1993, PIR claims the show has had over a million visitors, which shouldn’t be surprising since it’s billed as “the largest holiday light show west of the Mississippi.” Marvel at more than 250 different light displays from inside the warm belly of your Volvo. 1940 N Victory Ave. 823-7223. 5-9 pm Sundays, Wednesday and Thursday; 5-11 pm Fridays-Saturdays through Dec. 27. $16 per car. Cash only.
WEDNESDAY DEC. 9
[MUSIC] MEMENTO MORI
Classical Revolution PDX, Rachel Taylor Brown, Opera Theater Oregon and Roxy Consort perform songs about death by composers from Bach to Queen. Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St., 239-7639. 8 pm. $10.
[SCREEN] 2009 BRITISH ADVERTISING AWARDS
What’s all this kerfuffle about Wieden+Kennedy? The best telly advertising is still made in the U.K., innit? Fish ’n’ chips! Buy some fish ’n’ chips! NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 SW Park Ave., 221-1156. 7 pm. $5-$8.
[MUSIC] EDWARD SHARPE & THE MAGNETIC ZEROS
We’re not saying Edward Sharpe is God, because we’re not entirely sure God would be able to write songs this catchy. Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside St., 231-9663. 9 pm. $12 advance, $14 day of show. 21+.
FRIDAY DEC. 11
[MUSIC] TOTAL HEADFUCK!
So, we’ve got PDX’s greatest punks the Thermals, America’s pop saviors Spoon and local alt-country superstars Richmond Fontaine all playing different venues tonight. Three incredible shows, and we have to pick just one?! God, are you mad about that Edward Sharpe thing? The Thermals, Berbati’s Pan, 8:30 pm, $14, all ages. Spoon, Crystal Ballroom, 8 pm, $25, all ages. Richmond Fontaine, Dante’s, $8-$10, 21+.
SATURDAY DEC. 12
[CIRCUS] WHITE ALBUM XMAS
Wanderlust Circus reprises last year’s Beatles-themed circus spectacular, scored by a live performance of the White Album. Bossanova Ballroom, 722 E Burnside St., brownpapertickets.com. 8 pm. $17-$22.
[HOLIDAY] TUBA CHRISTMAS
Celebrate the season the way baby Jesus intended, with more than 200 tubas. Pioneer Courthouse Square, 715 SW Morrison St. 1:30 pm. Free.
SUNDAY DEC. 13
[SHOP] CRAFTY WONDERLAND
Celebrate the season the way baby Jesus intended, by buying a Prius-load of handmade local gifts. Oregon Convention Center, 777 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., craftywonderland.com. 11 am-7 pm. Free.
TUESDAY DEC. 15
[SPORTS] BLAZERS HANUKKAH
Presbyterians invented basketball, but many of the sport’s early stars were Jewish. The Blazers celebrate that heritage with a Chabad cheering section and a menorah lighting at halftime. Rose Quarter, 1 North Center Court St., 235-8771. 7 pm. Visit rosequarter.com for tickets.