I have lived in Portland a very long time and every year I find a few things I am amazed I either never heard of prior or just never made it to. A lot of these things are considered Portland "traditions". I love friends who move here and give me a whole new lease on the city doing tons of things considered "tourist traps" yet it encourages me to finally go check out whatever they went to see.
One of these traditions is the Grotto. Located in NE Portland off of Sandy, The Grotto is 62 acres of botanical gardens, cliff faces, and Catholic church buildings. http://www.thegrotto.org/ Each year they decorate for the holidays with over 500000 lights and over 140 different choir concerts throughout the month.
We had a really great time and intend to go back to visit the gardens in the Spring time. This night though I had a nice cup of hot chocolate to sip while watching two amazing choirs. The first were called Cloud 9 and wow, all high school boys and they really were great - even doing a take on Straight No Chaser's huge hit the 12 Days of Christmas. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Fe11OlMiz8 If you have never actually seen the song - you really should watch it because it is awesome. The high school guys did an amazing job with the piece of music. Next up we watched the Vancouver Madrigal Singers http://www.madrigalsingers.net/ who are quite amazing as well. They were straight out of another time with old world carols and everything - it really was great and I was so happy we had the two completely different choirs to enjoy. The Grotto is open for the Festival of Lights through Thursday, December 30
and is open 5pm-930pm with gates closing at 10pm...and I highly recommend enjoying your walk around with a cup of their tasty hot chocolate.