Holidays in the Hood River Valley

With joy and good cheer, we ring in the holiday season. In a time filled with delights, these 10 local favorites are sure to make your days merry and bright.

By Drew Myron

Deck the Halls

Christmas Carolers dressed in period clothing
Carolers sing to Christmas Train travelers. Photo courtesy of Mount Hood Railroad

Choose your own Christmas tree and support Mount Hood Town Hall at the U-Pick Christmas Tree Fundraiser. The beloved community center in the village of Mount Hood sells trees for $25. Volunteers are on hand to cut the tree of your choice.

Saturday, December 3, and Sunday, December 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Mount Hood Town Hall, 6575 Highway 35

Mount Hood Town Hall website.

Seasonal Shopping

In a gift-giving frenzy? Find some ease with a gift from the Wy’East Community Church Christmas Bazaar.

This Odell tradition has been going strong for more than 70 years, selling baked goods, quilts, crafts and more. All items are handmade by church members.

Friday, December 2, and Saturday, December 3, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission is free.

3422 Odell Highway.

Santa Experience

All aboard Mount Hood Railroad Christmas Train! The century-old, short-line railroad is under local ownership— Scott Webster of Webster Orchards and The Fruit Company—and offers a much-loved and magical holiday experience.

The 1-hour adventure boards in downtown Hood River and winds along river and forest to Pine Grove before heading back. The kid-centered adventure encourages passengers to wear pajamas and features a cast of jolly holiday characters, including Santa and Mrs. Claus sharing hot cocoa, cookies and caroling.

Through December 28, various departure times. Tickets are $59 to $79.

Mount Hood Railroad website.

Meet Santa at the Handmade Holiday Market as Mount Hood Town Hall bursts with holiday cheer. Shop for local handcrafted art, crafts, baked goods and home décor, then step outside and visit with Santa and enjoy sweets, treats and photo ops.

Sunday, December 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Santa visits from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Admission is free.

Mount Hood Town Hall, 6575 Highway 35

Mount Hood Town Hall website.

Musical Cheer

Voci Community Choir women perform at the Christmas Pops Concert. Photo courtesy of Columbia George Orchestra Association

The Voci Community Choir — a Columbia Gorge Orchestra Association chorus — presents the Christmas Pops Concert. This program of heartwarming holiday classics includes an audience singalong. Friday, December 9, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, December 11, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 to $25. Children are admitted for free.

Wy’East Middle School Performing Arts Center, 3000 Wyeast Road, Odell

Columbia Gorge Orchestra Association website.

Rock the Holiday with Aaron Meyer, rock violinist. The renowned Portland performer—along with powerhouse vocalists The Brown Sisters—returns for the 11th annual concert benefitting United Way of the Columbia Gorge.

The fundraiser helps support dozens of nonprofit organizations serving the area, including FISH Food Bank, Hood River Valley Adult Center, Gorge Ecology Institute, Hood River Shelter Services and the SMART Reading program.

The concert is Sunday, December 11, at 4 p.m. There is a children’s concert at 1 p.m. Tickets are $10 to $85, available at Waucoma Books in Hood River, at the door or by email: Email the United Way of the Columbia Gorge.

Best Western Plus Hood River Inn, 1108 E Marina Drive.

United Way of the Columbia Gorge website

Farm Festivals

Gordy Sato, United Way of the Columbia Gorge board member, poses with The Brown Sisters, a gospel trio from Portland. Photo courtesy of United Way

Enjoy a Nordic Christmas Market World— and celebrate World Pear Day — at Pear Bloom Farm in Odell. Enjoy a cozy farm market atmosphere with local vendors, hot beverages and photos with Santa.

Sunday, December 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission is free.

3475 Graves Drive, Odell

Pear Bloom Farm website.

The Winter Festival at Packer Orchards & Farm Place offers loads of family fun.

The fourth-generation farm is decked out with thousands of twinkling lights to shine on visits from Santa, Mrs. Claus and the Grinch. Shop a barn full of homemade products, baked goods, cookies, sweets and holiday fun.

Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through December 18. Admission is free.

3020 Thomsen Road, in Lower Valley near Pine Grove

Packer Orchards website.

The Giving Spirit

Students from Wy’East Middle School serve as Christmas Project volunteers. Photo courtesy of Christmas Project

Searching for the true spirit of Christmas? Look to the Christmas Project. Since 1923, hundreds of volunteers and dozens of local businesses have pulled together each year to bring provide food, toys, gifts and joy to families in need, seniors, children in foster care and those living in shelters.

The program serves people throughout Hood River County. In 2021, the Christmas Project supported nearly 900 families, including 1,463 children. With inflation and a growing need, this year the project expects to serve even more.

“There are a number of families where the Christmas Project’s food and toys are just about the only items on the table and underneath the tree,” says Bruce Holmson, who has headed the program for 26 years.

The nonprofit organization has no paid staff and operates entirely on volunteers, donations and grants.

“This community is just unreal,” Bruce says. “They just keep supporting us.”

To volunteer, donate or learn more, go to the Hood River Christmas Project website.