Updated: Jan 15
We here at Curbside gathered up the leftover crumbs on our countertops and baked them into the tasty fruit cake that is our annual holiday events roundup. This year, of course, things are moving virtual and we’re only highlighting events that allow people to join in remotely. The exception to this rule are some holiday light shows, which provide outdoor and drive-thru environments for people to stay socially distant. It’s up to all of us to make this a safe and healthy holiday season!
Whether you’re looking for something to do in the lead-up to the holidays or wanting to inject some art into your celebrations, we’ve got plenty of amazing local events for you to enjoy from this weekend all the way to the New Year. From remote concerts and dance parties to virtual holiday marketplaces featuring local hand-made pieces, this is your ultimate guide for holiday events in Oregon. We’ve even got ongoing events that you can check out all month long.
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Rejected Art Fair
Saturday, Dec. 5 - 1 pm
Virtual Holiday Market (Salem, OR)
This event, billed as the art fair for merchants who were rejected by other art fairs, is in its fourth yearly installment. It’s not like these works of art are any worse than others you can find, this marketplace is just designed for catching all the many talented artisans that there simply aren’t spots for elsewhere. Not only are there plenty of goodies to buy, there will also be live music brought to you during the shopping stream. You have a chance to support local makers while shopping for the holidays, so take advantage of it this month.
Northwest Talent Spotlight: One Brick Shy
Saturday, Dec. 5 - 7 pm to 10 pm
Remote Livestream (Vancouver, WA)
The Northwest Talent Spotlight out of Vancouver has been highlighting great local acts all fall, and this month’s showcase is a virtual livestream by local jazz and blues band One Brick Shy. The group is comprised of veterans who have played in regional bands for years, and they bring their upbeat, seasoned sound to this concert geared specifically for Pacfic Northwesterners. Show some love for the local music scene by checking this show out. Pre-registration and donations to support the band and venue are encouraged to participate.
The Moth x Literary Arts Virtual Portland - $15
Saturday, Dec. 5 - 7 pm
Virtual Stage Show (Portland, OR)
For those who aren’t familiar with The Moth already, it’s a local performance art group that encourages everyday people to share interesting stories. From awkward puberty stories to powerful accounts of past trauma, the stories that The Moth highlights are raw and, often, hilarious at the same time. This year, the organization’s Portland Mainstage event will be brought to you virtually, bringing all this amazing storytelling directly into your home for a reasonable price.
Virtual Handmade Market
Weekend of Dec. 4 to Dec. 6
Online Marketplace (Salem, OR)
Another local craft market from the Mid-Willamette Valley, this one is organized by a local group of Etsy vendors who’ve banded together to promote each other’s products. There will be items geared specifically towards the holidays, like ornaments and trinkets, plus general artworks by local creators. Seriously, why buy from vendors across the country when there are plenty of great ones right here in Oregon?
Celtic Advent Music
Sunday, Dec. 6 - 4 pm
Remote Concert (Salem, OR)
The St. Paul’s Music Guild is doling out rustic Celtic music to celebrate the season of Advent. With music featuring harps, violins and vocals, you’ll get to listen to traditional Celtic tunes and join with local musicians to make the holiday season special.
A Night Sky Adventure
Monday, Dec. 7 - 6:30 pm
Remote - Crook County, OR
The Crook County Library is joining together with the Oregon Observatory to provide a virtual, educational night about the stars above. This free event is perfect to cuddle up with your family, sip some hot chocolate and enjoy the wonders of the cosmos. From eye-popping space photography to computer generated images that recreate the inner workings of our galaxy, there’s plenty of inspiration here for those looking for some wonderment in their winter.
Mad Max Tribute Online
Friday, Dec. 11 - 8 pm
Virtual Dance Party - Eugene, OR
Witness that this annual tribute to the Mad Max franchise is moving online this year -- but it’s no less of a Road Warrior rave night. Local DJs will be spinning live via Twitch and the music will fit in nicely with the 80s theme of the occasion. Have some Thunderdome playing on your own television while you hook up the music to your steampunk speakers.
Shade Garden EP Release
Friday, Dec. 11 - 7pm to 9 pm
Remote Livestream (Portland, OR)
Local musician J.M. Long is celebrating the release of his first music as a new pop project called Shade Garden. His upcoming album will feature tracks written during quarantine, including the new single, “Out Of My Way,” which drops the same night as the show. Show some love for locally produced music by supporting this local artist’s hard work.
Virtual Portland Indigenous Market
Saturday, Dec. 15 - 10 am to 4 pm
Virtual Marketplace (Portland, OR)
This annual and month-long marketplace usually allows people to behold beautiful works of indigenous art first-hand but, thanks to the pandemic, things are having to move online. That’s no reason not to support local artists and learn more about artforms that may fall outside of what you’d usually buy or take in, however. For a chance to support local Native artisans, check this virtual marketplace out.
The Hip Hop Nutcracker - Virtual Performance - $25
Saturday, Dec. 12 - 7 pm
Remote - Portland, OR
Join in live for a modern-day reimagining of Tchaikovsky's masterpiece, "The Nutcracker", choreographed by Jennifer Weber. If you feel like you want a traditional holiday ballet with some awesome breakbeats and hard steps, this is the event for you.
Building New Worlds: A Generative Poetry Workshop ($50)
Sunday, Dec. 13 - 10 am to 1 pm
Online Workshop (Portland, OR)
This is all about how to create poetry in the moment. No mental blocks, no obnoxious self-critique that paralyzes the pen from hitting the page. This online workshop by author Kelly Grace Thomas will help you overcome creative walls and just get your creative juices flowing. Have lots of paper on-hand, because once you get going you won’t wanna stop.
Warren Wolf / Sean Jones Experience
Friday, Dec. 18 - 6 pm
Online Concert (Gresham, OR)
These two local jazz musicians will be bringing the smooth sounds of the season directly into your living room. Both Wolf and Jones are seasoned multi-instrumentalists and composers who collaborate with the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival out of the Mount Hood Community College, which is bringing you this showcase completely free this year.
Household Harmonies for Long Life: A Vocal Workshop
Sunday, Dec. 20 - 11 am to noon
Virtual Workshop - Oakland, CA
Vocalist Hannah Levy, of the Oakland-based vocal ensemble Kitka, will be teaching a traditional Ukranian table song called “Mnohaja lita! (Many Years).” Learn some cultural tunes from other countries while warming up those pipes, and consider checking out the Kitka Women’s Ensemble’s Wintersongs virtual concert on New Year’s Eve. While the workshop is free, pre-registration is required.
Portland Baroque Orchestra: Pocket Messiah
Sunday, Dec. 20 - 3 pm
Remote Concert - Portland, OR
It’s a tradition for the PBO to play Handel’s “Messiah” during the holiday season, but the awesome sounds of this classical masterpiece will have to be enjoyed remotely this December. That’s no reason to not still check it out, though, especially since the PBO is providing everyone with a chance to experience its entire winter season for free via livestreams and videos uploaded after every remote performance. You’ve got a little pocket version of the Handel masterwork thanks to the smartphone you carry, or you can plug a streaming device into some legit speakers to capture the full effect of this sweeping Christmas standard.
Y+B Bookclub: The Undocumented Americans
Sunday, Dec. 20 - 4 pm to 5:30 pm
Remote - Salem - OR
We’ve highlighted the Beer + Yoga Livestreams throughout the summer and fall, but this event is more catered to the literary minds out there. Rather than doing some physical exercise while imbibing, join the business for its seventh book club meeting, which explores "The Undocumented Americans" by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio. Villavicencio is an Ecuadorian-American writer and one of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate Harvard. Her book, a finalist for the National Book Award, covers her experience as a undocumented immigrant and explores stories about other immigrants living in the United States. Gather together remotely with other local bookworms and delve into this great new read. Oh, and beer-or-coffee-sipping is still very much encouraged.
8th Annual Vespertine Ball
Saturday, Dec. 19 - 8 pm to midnight
Virtual Dance Party - Portland, OR
The annual Vespertine Ball is a “winter white” fashion occasion that encourages everyone to get dressed to the nines and lean into the nighttime winter aesthetic (think whites, silvers and blues). Seriously, you won’t even be allowed to join the Zoom if you’re just wearing street clothes. While people won’t be able to gather and get down in person this year, the event is still kicking off with four virtual DJ rooms that will provide dance tunes straight into the comfort of your own home. Elaborate headpieces are encouraged.
Thursday, Dec. 31 - 11 am to 6 pm
Digital Event - Remote Locations
If ever there was an event that captured how much COVID-19 has changed the music biz, it’s this one. This entirely digital experience invites people to a virtual concert venue called NAOZ, a brand-new venue that was designed to stay open year-round and circumnavigate the tribulations of this pandemic. If that sounds difficult to wrap your brain around, it’s because it’s never really happened before. Simply put, more than 25 different artists will be performing from four digital stages, collaborating to create a splendid show of lights, dance and music. The night is billed as a “fascinating digital world of magic, music and friendship.” There are worse ways to welcome the New Year.
Virtual Holiday Book Drive
While this book drive has been going on all fall, it’s entering the final stretch and Books Around The Corner, which organizes this annual book donation, is pushing hard to get as many donations as possible leading up to the holidays. Now, bear in mind that this isn’t an event to simply get rid of those books you’ve got gathering dust in your attic. Instead, participants will select a book to purchase and donate, with all proceeds this year going to help The Raphael House of Portland, which provides relocation assistance and other resources to survivors of domestic violence. Help those who could use them most experience the literary arts!
GLOW Holiday Lights - Free
Riverview City Park - Independence, OR
There are many (MANY) holiday light festivals to check out this month, and it’s up to you as attendees to be safe and socially distant while enjoying downtown displays. This free one will be lighting up the riverside park in downtown Independence, just a short drive from Salem. Whenever there isn’t a crowd, go enjoy a nighttime stroll through a historic Oregon town.
Gnome on the Roam Scavenger Hunt
Another event in Polk County, this one is far more interactive and independent. It’s basically a treasure hunt, where participating downtown businesses serve as checkpoints where you have to find the custom-made garden gnomes. You’ll get clues and activities to do along the way, and those who complete the hunt will be entered in a raffle to win a prize. Plus, you know, bragging rights. Please be COVID-conscious and wear masks/do this activity in small groups of people you live with.
Drive Thru Zoo Lights - $50
Oregon Zoo - Portland, OR
This event is a lot easier to plan on being socially distant at, since you simply drive along a pre-set route in your car, much like the big Umpqua Valley Festival of lights in Roseburg (also worth checking out!). This one features over 1.5 million LED lights, most of which will be in the glimmering shapes of, you guessed it, animals. All tickets must be purchased in advance for the Zoo Lights.
Lightopia - Free
Gordon Faber Recreation Complex - Hillsboro, OR
Another free option for those who need to holiday on a budget this year, you’ll still need to expect long car lines and pre-registration. That said, you’ll get some gorgeous views along this ⅓ mile-long drive as well as some accompanying music and treats for the family. You don’t see too many free drive-thru light options, so this one’s worth checking out.
Beaverton Winter Lights - Free
Five unique locations will serve as “tapestries of light” for this downtown holiday light walk. Each location will offer unique displays and decorations, organized by local business owners and the City of Beaverton. Again, attendees should aim to go when crowds are small and six-foot-distancing is possible.
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