Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) entrance with Marvel exhibit advertised. Check out OMSI’s current exhibit about the Marvel franchise if you are wondering what to do over winter break. Image by Hazel Karon Snow

School takes up so much time that it can be difficult to figure out what to do with time off. Whether you have family in town or just need something to do with friends, here are some seasonal recommendations of things to do. This list will include activities and events with religious backgrounds as well as events not based in religion. I encourage everyone reading this article to do research on different cultural and religious celebrations during this holiday season.

Portland Art Museum

There are currently nine exhibits on display at the Portland Art Museum ranging from modern and contemporary art to photography. These exhibits embrace and celebrate the many cultural practices of the people of the Pacific Northwest. One exhibit, “They Come From Fire,” is a celebration of Indigenous history in Oregon assembled by Jeffery Gibson and brings together art of varied mediums by Indigenous, BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ artists from all over the community. Another temporary exhibition is titled “Forces of Nature” and is curated by Jeannie Kenmotsu. “Forces of Nature” explores the connection between humans and the environment, with a specific focus on Japanese artists and their relationship to the Pacific Rim islands. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and tickets are free for anyone under 17. 


Currently, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) has a temporary exhibit on Marvel titled “Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes” which is about what goes into making Marvel stories and movies. This exhibit features rare comic art, movie props, and interactive and immersive set design. Tickets for this specific exhibit cost $24 for youth and $30 for adults. If needed, there are all-day parking passes available for $5; however, there are plenty of public transportation options connected to OMSI.  


For many people, the ZooLights are a pinnacle of the Portland childhood experience. Cold nights combined with elephant ears and bright lights mimicking favorite animals are a wonderful experience for many children. While some people might think that this is just for kids, there is so much nostalgia and beauty in experiencing the same thing at different points in one’s life, which is why I heavily suggest going back to see them. The ZooLights are available to experience as a drive through the park or as a walking tour. The drive through version of the ZooLights is open through the first week of December while the walking tours are open all of December through the first week of January. More details about the event including reservation of tickets are available on the ZooLights website

Holiday Express 

This family oriented event is geared more towards younger kids; however, it could still be fun for anyone older, especially if you were to go later in the evening. This classic coal powered train provides night and daytime tickets and costs $28 for adults and $23 for children. The ride is 45 minutes long. More details can be found on the Oregon Rail Heritage Center website

Menorah Lighting at Pioneer Courthouse Square 

The first night of the Menorah lighting celebration is on Sunday Dec. 18 and starts at 5 p.m. with live music, traditional foods, and other festivities to kick off the eight nights of Chanukah. The rest of the nights have a Menorah lighting at 5:30 p.m. While there are only organized festivities on Dec. 18 there will be a strong community present the rest of the nights.

“The Klezmatics” at the Alberta Rose Theater 

“The Klezmatics” are a Grammy award winning band that specialize in klezmer, an instrumental genre originating from Ashkenazi Jewish folk musicians. As a band they gained popularity from their mixing of older Yiddish tunes with more contemporary styles. “The Klezmatics” will be performing music from their notable 2006 album “Happy Joyous Hanukkah” at the Alberta Rose Theater on Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online ahead of time at the Alberta Rose Theater website for $32 or at the door for $42.  

New Movie Releases 

Needing something to do to fill an afternoon? Check out these new movies. “Spirited” is a musical retelling of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens that features Ryan Reynolds, Will Ferrell, and Octavia Spencer. Another new release is “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” directed by Rian Johnson. This is a stand alone sequel to “Knives Out,” a film that came out in 2019. Want to hear more about this movie? Check out the review in our Arts & Entertainment section. Last but certainly not least is “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” This sequel to “Black Panther” was highly anticipated and made over $181 million on opening weekend. Cairo Machatine, self declared biggest fan of “Black Panther,” thinks that “The movie was absolutely gorgeous.” The historically popular film series and this glowing review are both reasons why you should go check out this newest addition to the Marvel universe. 

Christmas Ships

The Christmas Ships parade has been running since 1954 and this year marks its 68th anniversary. This tradition includes boats of all sizes putting up Christmas lights and festive scenes that are then floated down both the Columbia and Willamette rivers. Franklin High School sophomore Avery Becker says that she loves seeing these ships because “They’re super uniquely festive. I love seeing the creativity put in.” She says they “really bring in the Christmas season.” There is no need to buy any tickets, and dates can be found online at their website.  

The Portland RevelsThe Portland Revels describe their performances as a one-of-a-kind experience featuring a little bit of history and a little bit farcical. Their performances welcome in the new season and create community across generations and cultures. This year’s midwinter performance is centered around stories and songs from Jewish, Muslim, and Christian communities of Andalusian Spain. Tickets start at $11 for students and go up to $109 for adults. There is also a children’s focused play for younger audiences. More information and dates can be found at their website.  

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