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Favorite Must-Do Holiday Event

If there is one "must see" or "must do" event this holiday season, what would it be?  What would you recommend?  Sara wants to know! She writes:

I'd like to take my 3-year-old to one splurge-y holiday-season event this year, like a dance, music, or theater performance. My budget is tight, so I'm hoping Urban Mamas will help me identify the single Very Best Event! She loves music and dancing and stories, and will sit through engaging performances for an hour or so, but obviously it can't be too long or too boring-for-kids.

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This is very cliche... but have you considered the Nutcracker? I go every couple of years and there are always lots of starry eyed kids there.

We'll be going to the Nutcracker this year - a first for my girls.

http://www.portlanddanceacademy.com/

My 3 year old is ballet obsessed. We are going to take her to the Nutcracker next weekend. This is the Children's Nutcracker ("abbreviated"). The kid's tickets are only $5 so we can afford the risk!
http://www.classicalballet.net/

We attended the Singing Christmas Tree at the Keller Auditorium this weekend (for the first time) and our three-year-old was absolutely mesmerized. Our ten-month-old even made it through the show, staying wide awake way past his bedtime, highly engaged. This is an incredibly entertaining show definitely energizing one for the holiday season.

We had $15 front row seats (yes, front row!) for this 2 1/2 hour show. This will definitely be a new family, holiday tradition for us.

http://www.singingchristmastree.org

I would check out the grotto, Festival of Lights. They have an incredible light display and lots of music. Each performance is only a 1/2 hour to 45 minutes so nothing is too long. I would check the website for their schedule to find some fun kid friendly music. I've seen everything from HIgh School Choirs, church choirs, and a brass band!

www.thegrotto.org

Try Zoo Lights! It's so much fun. What 3 year old doesn't love riding a train and looking at millions of holiday lights? My 3 1/2 year old daughter and 16 month old son absolutely loved it! Good luck and Happy Holidays! ...mol

Ooooh Nutcracker sounds nice! I know there's an inexpensive show at Reynolds High School (in Troutdale). More info:
Showtime on Friday, December 7 is at 7:00 pm; Saturday, December 8 at 1:00 pm and 6:00 pm. At Reynolds High School Hudson F. Lasher Performing Arts Center, 1698 SW Cherry Park Rd., Troutdale. Tickets are $10.00 for open seating and can be purchased in advance by calling Mt. Hood Ballet Academy at (503) 667-6698 or at the door.

It's a more inexpensive alternative but I've heard it's a good show. I'd like to try it this year if my 4 yr old can sit still long enough (it's a challenge!).

We went to see Santaland once upon a time when Meyer and Frank was still around. We didn't actually get pictures with santa... we just looked around.

We've done zoolights but it was SO COLD! Especially if it's a tiny bit windy the zoo gets the brunt of it, it seems.

I'm excited to hear about what other events moms are taking their kiddos to...

The Christmas ships are fun and free. Just dress warmly and take a hot drink with you.

http://www.christmasships.org/

I actually splurged on tickets for the OBT Nutcracker, for Milo (4-1/2) and myself. We'll see if we make it through the whole thing. I sure hope so!

We're also planning on hitting the Holiday Express train again this year (http://www.orhf.org/events/07holiday/index.html) and the Zoo Lights.

The Portland Raceway lights - not so much. We just did it tonight and although it was a good way to entertain the last of my guests and get us out of the house, I wasn't that impressed. Last year, the Holiday Express train was spendy for the payback for us. If your kid is minor-ly train obsessed it might be just as cool to just go WATCH it from the outside. I don't have a must-do, but it looks like I might gain some from here. Any opinions on the Mt. Hood train? OH OH - Tuba Christmas - free and pretty darned Portland unique!

The Christmas Revels is a wonderful, magical solstice show full of ancient carols and music from around the world, a mummer's play, sword dances, and it's all about bringing light at the darkest time of the year.

It's performed around the country in various cities and my family has been going since our first show in NYC in 1981. This is (I think) the 13th year of Portland's Revels. It is not to be missed. (And there are kids in it, too).

http://www.portlandrevels.org/revels.php

Tonight only (Mon, 11/26) you can walk the lights at PIR. I've never been, but we are heading out rain or not. I've never been particularly interested in the idea of driving through, and I've read Betsy's response. I'm hoping the walking aspect might make it more interesting.

Westiside Acadmey's Ballet and Performing companies are putting on a holiday showcase at Southridge high school December 8 at 1 and 5 PM. It's $10 general admission tickets. The first half is excerpts from the Nutcracker and the second half consists of more contemporary works, I believe. I'm taking my daughters (2.5 and 5). My oldest daughter has attended since she was 3 and is captivated through the entire performance. Here's a link to the flyer: http://www.westsideacademy.com/perfco/2007HolidayShowcase.pdf

what, what, WHAT is TUBA CHRISTMAS???? Is it something in Pioneer Square? I might have driven by this accidentally as it was ending last year and I felt so clueless about the Christmas events in Portland. Please--more details! Sounds cool!

Also, is there a good one-stop-shop for High School Theater schedules? I'm finding this an excellent way to introduce my kids to the theater, seeing as the OCT is really not that affordable.

I have so, so, so many favorites!
Top five:
Peacock Lane (car-free this year!)
Breakfast with Santa at the Kennedy School
Cutting down a tree (generally in Helvetia / Hillsboro, followed by burgers at Helvetia Tavern)
A children's performance (last year: biglittlethings at Imago Theater - fabulous!)
An adult performance (Gospel Christmas is amazing).

Also - zoolights, ships, tree-lighting ceremonies, Nutcracker....

All of these detailed at:
http://www.nwkids.com/holiday2008

Tuba Christmas:
http://www.portland.com/portland/events/tuba-christmas/
Dec 13th in 2008. Free.

We went to Singing Christmas Tree today with a 3 and 4 year old. The singing was fabulous, but it got a bit religious at the end for me. I kept wondering what my 4 year old was thinking when they kept singing about "giving my heart to baby Jesus" as I'm not sure he's ever heard that expression. (yes, I know why Christmas started - please don't blast me). It won't be a repeat for us next year, but I'm glad I experienced it once. It was a pretty amazing set-up with 300+ singers on stage.

For adult performance I'll put in a plug for a play: Artist Rep's Holidazed by local writer Mark Acito. Funny, cynical, thought provoking and well done. (I'm not associated with the theater).

Happy Holidays

Some of our favorites and new things, too:

Driving down Peacock Lane (or walking) then head over to the local coffee shops on Belmont for hot chocolate at Stumptown (older kids Dao of Tea time)

Imago Theater puts on a wonderful December Show that was great fun last year, really clever stuff and funny/interactive, imagine large bunnies and bears climbing all over the audience, it was a hoot

Portland Center Stage offers Scrooge for older kids and parents, very lovely live theater and great stage sets

Jingle Bell Run right on Friday after Thanksgiving if still on was lots of fun and we wore bells all over and did the walk

Pack a hot dinner in a cooler (easy stuff like premixed spaghetti or hot meatball sandwiches) and head down to the Milwaukie Boat Ramp in time to meet the Christmas Ships and eat dinner in the car, the kids loved that and the dog swam around in the river and loved that.

Take MAX downtown on evening, walk around the Square, see the holiday window decorations, head up to Finnegans to ooh and ahh, drop into the Indian buffet or try a Japanese meal at Bush Garden in a little room with table on the floor for a great evening of fun, you can do this on a Saturday too and go see Santa at Pioneer Place or Macy's

Drive up to Alameda Ridge and park nearby and walk-bike the winding street to admire the Christmas Lights and the view in the dark. Bring along hot cocoa for in the car afterwards.

Take your children to the Audobon Society and walk the wet dark forests and then shop for bird feeders and seed in the gift shop for presents, make peanut butter rolled pine cones, and enjoy watching-feeding the birds.

Drive up to Mt Hood and take a day to go tubing in the snow, enjoy a hot thermos of clam chowder and peanut butter sandwiches, and bring along pillows-blankets for the kids when they fall asleep on the way home, tuckered out and really happy.

Take $100 and go buy socks on sale, warm ones, and drive them down to a local shelter or Salvation Army and drop them off. Bring along a whole batch of home-made cookies in a box to go with the socks. Your children will remember that.

Head up to the park after a windy night, and gather up the greens that have fallen down on the ground, trim them and tie into attractive swags, and use red ribbon to tie them onto your neighbor's tree trunks along your street...or give as gifts, add gold-paint sprayed pine cones or holly stems.

Instead of a gingerbread house, bake a favorite cookie dough and make a real super yummy cookie house, decorate with dried fruits and nuts. It won't have to be thrown out.

Older children might like the Portland Revels, long but a tradition.

Finally, our favorite event: MAGICAL STRINGS concert held downtown, the Boulding family, sponsored by Cedarwood Waldorf School, a don't miss fun time....

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