Bend’s Favorite Holiday Traditions


One of our favorite things about living in Bend during the holidays is the special traditions that Central Oregonians have found to enjoy their favorite days. If you’re relocating to Bend and looking for fun holiday activities to enjoy or new traditions to add to your yearly plans, we have several favorites for you to explore.

Cocoa and Snowshoeing

Once the snow starts to fall around Central Oregon, a combo of cocoa and snowshoeing is exactly what you need to start feeling like you’re home. There are several routes to snowshoe in the area (and options for renting shoes if you want), from majestic views of Bend best seen at night to park romps within the city limits. This is a great activity for family, or a romantic afternoon/evening out – but if you’ve never been before, it’s a good idea to find a group for your first time. If snowshoeing isn’t really your style, then you can easily replace that with sledding, casual cross-country skiing, or whatever else you’d like to do!

Tree Lighting

Bend holds its own tree lighting ceremony downtown, which is always fun to visit, but there are smaller tree lighting ceremonies from other organizations that you can also explore. Downtown’s tree lighting is usually in early December and is an excellent opportunity to explore downtown shops while you are there, or maybe stop by a place like O’Kanes with warm fires and enjoy a drink.

Family Time with Santa

Santa is making regular appearances at Old Mill throughout December, where he will be enjoying a variety of kid-friendly activities like reading holiday-oriented books, talking about life at the North Pole, and opening letters. If your family is still social distancing you can simply drop off a letter for Santa in special bins that will help guarantee a timely answer. This is also a great opportunity to explore the Old Mill shops, buy some gift cards for friends, and enjoy the winter views. Santa will also be making an appearance at the tree lighting ceremony in downtown Bend.

Find Your Favorite Food

Winter in Bend is all about getting cozy next to a fire with your favorite brew of choice…and eating some excellent winter comfort food. We’re not going to list all the delicious foods here (Bend Magazine has a few suggestions) but encourage you to experiment with dishes from the many renowned chefs in Bend. Find your favorite eggnog, your most comforting ramen bowl, the must-have coffee cake, the best artisan grilled cheese – there’s a whole lot to explore, and once you find your seasonal favorite, it will quickly become one of your go-to holiday traditions. Pair your food with some of the seasonal pumpkin ales that show up around this time for the best results!

Holiday Lights Paddle Parade

This December 10th parade in Old Mill encourages participants to decorate their canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards with the most festive lights possible (a battery power pack and LED light strings can go a long way). Costumes are also encouraged! Then everyone heads out as evening starts to set in and paddles up and down the Deschutes River as it curves through Old Mill. The results are spectacular as the light wanes, making it a fun event to visit even if you don’t plan on participating this year. Get ready to take some amazing photos!

Holiday Runs

Nothing draws people together like outdoor recreation in Bend, so it’s no surprise that many people prefer to celebrate the holidays with a few runs (and help burn off some of those extra calories at the same time). Notable examples include the Turkey Trot, I Like Pie Run, Ugly Christmas Sweater Run, and FootZone’s Holiday Lights Run, but you should be able to find more options if you are looking to match a specific schedule! These runs offer a variety of challenges depending on what you want to do but are generally family-friendly and focused on having fun. Just be sure to dress warm and wear shoes that can handle the snow and ice!

Let Moving to Bend help take care of the details so you can enjoy the holidays! Our relocation services in Central Oregon can help you find options for working in Bend and what industries in Central Oregon could be the best fit – plus many other helpful services. Ask us if you have any specific questions.