Your turkey (or tofurkey) is thawing. You've brainstormed nonpolitical conversation topics to discuss with out-of-town visitors. You've picked out a pair of pants with the stretchiest waistband possible. Yep, you're officially ready to celebrate the holidays—Portland-style!
First on your list, after you've emerged from a tryptophan coma: The 35th annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, held the day after Thanksgiving at 5:30. This Pioneer Square event turns the winter night alight with the roughly 14,000 lights twinkling on the 75-foot-tall Doug fir at the center of the square. (That's nearly 5 times taller than Desi and Buttercup, the giraffes who call the Oregon Zoo home, for anyone who's counting.)
What's more, roughly 25,000 Portlanders gather for the Tree Lighting Ceremony ready to sing. Rose City musicians join dignitaries, politicians and an enormous crowd for caroling in Pioneer Square. Will Timbers Army chants make the set list? We can't promise anything, but our fingers are crossed.
Once you've had your fill of the twinkle lights, head indoors to shop at the beloved PDX Pop-Up Shops. Local designers and artists move into empty retail space on the lower level of Pioneer Place, infusing a scrappy, indie energy into the mall. This year's shop Alshiref and Friends features locally made products from Portland-based artists, including jewelry, prints, blown glass kitchenware and unique apparel, offer goods you just won't find at suburban big box stores or impersonal online sites. Bonus: You won't even get trampled in Black Friday crowds!
And put the Holiday Ale Fest on your calendar. You won't want to miss this year's event from December 4-8, which brings together more than 50 breweries just as excited to celebrate the season as they are about comparing IPAs to pale ales.
Finally, keep Santa on your radar. The Big Man himself has set up at Pioneer Place, ready to listen to your Christmas wishes and take the most adorable photos with your kids (or your pets, on December 9!). If you like your holidays traditionally untraditional—and really, what good Portlander doesn't?—you can visit Hipster Santa on December 7, 8, 9 and 19. You can ask which list you're on; Hipster Santa may answer with his Naughty/Nice tattoos.
No matter what holiday activities are in your plans this year, there's plenty to do in Downtown Portland.