Festive displays and events make the holidays even happier.

Holidays are merry and bright along the Oregon Coast as local communities get into the spirit by lighting up their favorite places in all kinds of creative ways. The docks are decked, and so are bridges and crab pots, with twinkling displays ushering in the short, blustery days of winter. From Astoria to Brookings, you’ll find old traditions and some that are brand-new. You may even start a new one yourself — a holiday trip to the Coast.

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Parade of Lights in Seaside (Photo courtesy of Visit Seaside)

North Coast’s Beloved Holiday Traditions

In Astoria on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, a lively countdown heralds the holiday illumination of downtown. Santa arrives on a fire truck and carolers add a note of cheer to this popular gathering on Commercial Street. Throughout December merchants compete for the best festive window displays as part of the town’s Winter Holiday Events. 

Yuletide in Seaside includes a Parade of Lights featuring illuminated and decorated floats ahead of the traditional tree lighting. Throughout December the whole town twinkles with seasonal displays, and a Tour of Lights winds past decorated homes in Seaside, Gearhart and Warrenton.

Cannon Beach kicks off the season with a lamp-lighting tradition going back almost 50 years. Revelers gather in Sandpiper Square at dusk on the first Saturday in December for a touching ceremony and carols. From the end of November through mid-December, Cannon Beach in Lights has local residents and businesses decorated with brilliant light displays all through the town. You can even vote for your favorite.

The Tillamook Holiday Light Parade, which gets underway after the town’s tree lighting at City Hall, is a lively, home-spun affair with tractors, trucks, vintage Jeeps and even some boats trimmed in lights.

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Deck the Dock (Photo courtesy of Explore Lincoln City)

Colorful Docks and Bridge Walk on the Central Coast 

Decorated lamp posts along 51st Street and Highway 101 light the way to Deck the Dock, a colorful display on the vintage dock adjacent to Mo’s Restaurant in the Taft neighborhood of Lincoln City. Time your visit for sunset to see Siletz Bay beautifully framed by the sparkling lights. 

The second annual Depoe Bay Lights is Depoe Bay’s rockin’ high-tech light show pulsing to a holiday soundtrack broadcast on radio FM 92.1. Park and watch, or walk by with your smartphone to get the full effect. 

A Sea of Lights will yet again transform the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport into holiday splendor, with the outdoor otter, seabird and octopus habitats and grounds decked in half a million colorful lights and decorations.

The Annual Waldport Candlelight Bridge Walk is a tradition for all ages. Carry a candle or flashlight across the Alsea Bay Bridge at dusk, then enjoy the lighting of the tree right on Highway 101 at the south end of the bridge. Festivities begin and end at the Historic Alsea Bay Bridge Visitor’s Center & Museum.

Historic Old Town Florence is illuminated all season long, creating a magical scene with glittering lights reflecting off the Siuslaw River. The Florence Holiday Festival gets it all started with a tree lighting, carols and hayrides. 

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Holiday Lights at Shore Acres (Photo by Nickie Bournias)

Illuminated Sea Creatures and Trucks on the South Coast

One of the Coast’s most impressive holiday displays is at Shore Acres State Park. Come to see hundreds of thousands of colorful lights illuminating sculptures of marine mammals, sea critters and more at the annual Holiday Lights at Shore Acres, which transforms a historic garden into a winter wonderland. You can head to the park’s Garden House to find Santa Claus (the real one, of course!) along with cider, coffee and cookies. Expect live music and choral performances most nights, too. New this year: You’ll need a timed-entry ticket for entry into the light show. No tickets will be sold on-site, so purchase your ticket now to be sure to save your family’s spot.

As home to one of the largest commercial-fishing fleets in Oregon, it’s only fitting that Charleston marks the season with an illuminated crab-pot tree as does Port Orford farther south. North Bend pays tribute to its logging heritage with the Lighted Truck Parade, featuring decorated 18-wheelers, log trucks and other big rigs. 

Old Town Bandon inaugurates the holiday season with its Night of 10,000 Lights and tree lighting the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Pick up a map and glass for the Wine and Nog Walk, then raise a glass of holiday cheer while exploring the downtown shops. In mid-December deck your own car — or pets — and cruise along in the Holiday Light Parade

Brookings’ Festival of Lights at Azalea Park is another light show not to miss. Stroll through a garden of heritage azaleas during the day, and return in the evening to enjoy the show of 3 million lights decorating fanciful sculptures. The kids will love visiting Santa, too.

– By Rachel Bucci