Head downtown this season and you'll get anything but the holidays-as-usual. Portland's enthusiasm for all things local extends to its festive performances and shopping events, where you can celebrate everything there is to love about the holiday—all within a few blocks downtown.
At the PDX Pop-Up Shops in the Pioneer Place mall and the Standard Insurance Center, you can use your dollars to support indie retailers—while crossing must-buys off your holiday shopping list, naturally. The eighth annual event hosts makers and artists in unused storefronts, where retailers like the Portland Saturday Market Indoors, urban lifestyle brand dfrntpigeon, The Chic Coop jewelry, and Animal. Plant. Mineral. display their unique wares.
Trust us when we say you don't want to miss the 27th annual Tuba Christmas Concert (Dec. 9 at 1:30 p.m.). The free performance, held in the Pioneer Courthouse Square, features 275 tubas playing a suite of seasonal songs in the open air—a holiday experience you definitely can't get online.
Speaking of in-person must-dos, visit Santa at the Pioneer Square mall any day until Dec. 24 (when the Big Man will head out to make his midnight deliveries, of course). Get a photo to repost on Instagram—Hipster Santa, who sets up shop on Thursdays, would surely approve. And even your pets can whisper their wish lists of chew toys and catnip on Monday evenings, when Santa welcomes four-legged friends.
Finally, take advantage of Free Parking Sunday (Dec. 10), when you can leave your ride at SmarkPark garages gratis. Simply validate your ticket between noon and 5 p.m. at the PDX Pop-Up Shop in Pioneer Place (SW 5th and Morrison) or Boys Fort (902 SW Morrison). How you use the $5 kickback (a donation for the season's bell ringers or enjoying a local treat in the recently opened Portland Food Hall) is 100 percent up to you!