Still time to celebrate the season

Here's a handy rundown of Christmas-oriented events

By Ashley Swanson, Columbian Features News Coordinator



Not sure what to do with the house a mess, the kids off from school and you still have some holiday shopping left to do? Give yourself a break. Here are a few Christmas celebrations to keep your season bright.

Seasonal songs

From carols and classics to newly minted and jazzy tunes, here are the concerts to consider.

The Va Va Voom Troupe presents “It Must Be Christmas Again.” The holiday variety show will include dancing, skits, jokes and musical performances, along with elves, Santa and Mrs. Claus. Music will be provided by the Santa’s Gut Bucket Band. The troupe is made up of seniors who are 50 years and older.

When: 7 p.m. Dec. 21 and 2 p.m. Dec. 22.

Where: Barberton Grange, 9400 N.E. 72nd Ave., Vancouver.

Admission: $10.

Telephone: 360-546-5855.


“Christmas Comes Alive” with Jay “Bird” Koder and Friends, is both a Christmas concert and benefit for Love Now, an outreach program of Crossroads Community Church working in Africa. The concert will feature favorite and traditional songs presented in a variety of music genres from traditional jazz to pop. Performers include guitarist Koder, pianist Jason Ritchie, a local children’s choir, bassist Daniel Fusco, vocalist Ryan Hurley and other surprise guests.

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 23.

Where: Crossroads Community Church, 7708 N.E. 78th St., Vancouver.

Admission: $6, $20 for families.

Telephone: 360-256-9711.


Winterdance, the seventh annual Celtic Christmas Celebration, will feature Molly’s Revenge, an acoustic Celtic trio, along with guest vocalist Christa Burch and the Irish dancers from the Geraldine Murray School of Portland. The performance will include Christmas songs and carols from different countries, given a Celtic twist with combinations of the fiddle, whistle, guitar, bagpipes, bodhran and mandola.

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 22.

Where: Old Liberty Theater, 113 N. Main Ave., Ridgefield.

Admission: $18 to $20 for those 21 and older.

Telephone: 360-887-7260

Web: or

Theater to share

From Christmas classics to modern mash-ups, local theater performances reveal the nice and naughty sides of the giving season.

Slocum Players present “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” taking the classic holiday story and transporting it to a 1940s radio show, complete with sound effects, commercials and Christmas carols. George Bailey sacrifices his dreams to help his town, but grows dissatisfied with his life. His guardian angel, Clarence, helps show George what life would be for his loved ones if he’d never been born. The production will be a dinner theater performance at Tommy O’s; admission will include dinner and dessert, for those 21 and older.

When: 6 p.m. Dec. 22.

Where: Tommy O’s, 801 Washington St., Vancouver.

Admission: $50 includes dinner.

Telephone: 360-694-5107.


Serendipity Players presents “Christmas Belles,” a comedic, contemporary take on the holidays. The Futrell Sisters are anything but festive as the church Christmas program is slipping into chaos, with a grumpy Santa and a reluctant Elvis impersonator only adding to the confusion as holiday hijinks ensue.

When: 8 p.m. Dec. 21-22 and 2 p.m. Dec. 23.

Where: Serendipity Playhouse, 500 Washington St., Vancouver.

Admission: $15.

Telephone: 360-834-3588.


Portland Center Stage presents “The Santaland Diaries,” a play based on the true chronicles of humorist David Sedaris’ experience as Crumpet the Elf in Macy’s Santaland display. A few of his odd encounters with holiday shoppers enrich this humorous holiday tale.

When: Through Dec. 30, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, noon Thursdays.

Where: Ellyn Bye Studio at the Armory, 128 N.W. 11th Ave., Portland.

Admission: $59, $30 for students.

Telephone: 503-445-3700.


Artist Repertory Theater presents a fusion of literature’s classic holiday tale with its most famous detective in “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol.” Sherlock Holmes has let the world think he’s dead, sinking deeper into his solitude and rejecting Dr. Watson’s attempts to get him back on a case. That is until Sherlock receives a visit from three ghostly visitors on Christmas Eve.

When: Through Dec. 30, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays.

Where: The Alder Stage, 1516 S.W. Alder St., Portland.

Admission: $36, $20 for students.

Telephone: 503-241-9807


Last-minute gifts

Sneak in some last-minute shopping by making it an adventure. There’s a crafty celebration to find a few more stocking stuffers, or grab a few moments of peace in the Zen-inspired route through the garden.

The Crafty Underdog is a group that celebrates crafting as its brings together artists and artisans for a showcase of their work, along with live music, food, drink and children’s activities. Musical performances include Bryan Graves, Laugh at Linus, Crawfish, Slim Bacon and more. The event “The Underdog Takes Washington” will be the final show of the season. Expect a variety of prints, jewelry, clothing, handbags, hats and accessories on display.

When: 1 to 6 p.m. Dec. 22.

Where: Eagle’s Lodge, 107 E. Seventh St., Vancouver.

Admission: Free.


Portland Japanese Garden brings out the best of its gift shop with items by featured artists during its Holiday Gift Sale. Held in the garden’s Pavilion Gallery, the event will feature ornaments, jewelry, ceramics, prints and gifts on display. The garden will be gearing up to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2013.

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 21-23 and noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 24.

Where: 611 S.W. Kingston Ave., Portland.

Admission: $9.50; $7.75 seniors and college students; $6.75 for ages 6-17; free for children 5 and younger.

Telephone: 503-223-1321.


Holiday lights shine

The amazing power of twinkling lights can surprise even the scroogiest among us into humming a few bars of “Deck the Halls.” See decorations by the river, in the zoo, by car or by foot.

The 58th annual Christmas Ship Parade draws to a close on Dec. 21. Recreational boaters from the area decorate their boats with rows upon rows of lights. The fleet will parade down the area rivers for those watching along the shores. All activities are subject to safety, river traffic, weather and water conditions. Be sure to check the website for any change in schedule.

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21.

Where: Marine Park, Southeast Marine Park Way and Southeast Columbia Way, Vancouver, and Salty’s on the Columbia River, 3839 N.E. Marine Drive, Portland.

Admission: Free.


Jubitz Winter Wonderland is the Northwest’s largest drive-through holiday light show, featuring 250 holiday light sculptures and animated set pieces along the Portland International Raceway.

When: 5 to 11 p.m. Dec. 21-22 and 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 23-25.

Where: Portland International Raceway, 1940 N. Victory Blvd., Portland.

Admission: $16 for cars, $18 for passenger vans, $6 for motorcycles, $20 for RVs or limos, $30-$45 for buses.

Telephone: 503-232-3000.


The Oregon Zoo will be illuminated with more than a million LED lights during the 25th annual ZooLights. The holiday showcase creates moving sculptures, shining displays and familiar animal shapes. Visitors can board the zoo’s train, which will also be transformed by lights, to see the zoo decorated for the holidays.

When: 5 to 8 p.m. Dec. 23, 26-27, 30-31; and 5 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 21-22, 28-29 closed Dec. 24-25.

Where: The Oregon Zoo, 4001 S.W. Canyon Road, Portland.

Admission: $10, $8.50 for seniors, $7 for children ages 3-11, free for children younger than 2; $3.50 for train ride.

Telephone: 503-226-1561.


The Grotto presents the 25th annual Christmas Festival of Lights featuring thousands of lights on display throughout the gardens, outdoor caroling, puppet shows, minstrels and a petting zoo. It is claims to be the largest Christmas choral festival in the world, with five indoor concert performances each night by school, church and civic choirs from Oregon and Southwest Washington.

When: 5 to 9:30 p.m. daily through Dec. 30, grounds close at 10 p.m. Closed Dec. 25.

Where: The Grotto, Northeast 85th Street and Sandy Boulevard, Portland.

Admission: $9, $8 for seniors, $4 for children 12 and younger.

Telephone: 503-261-2400.


Visitors can enjoy holiday carols brought to life at the Pittock Mansion, the restored 1914 home built by Portland pioneer Henry Pittock. The historic mansion is decorated to the nines, with each room celebrating different Christmas carols, along with 20 festive trees and performances by community musicians in the music parlor.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Closed Dec. 25.

Where: 3229 N.W. Pittock Drive, Portland.

Admission: $9.50; $8.50 for ages 65 and older; $6.50 for ages 6-18; free for children younger than 6.

Telephone: 503-823-3623.