Although hunkering down at home is tempting in the coldest months of the year, it’s the best time for a quaint winter-themed vacation. And Ashland Oregon’s Festival of Lights, with the motto, live out your daydreams by night, hits all the holiday high points. For 30 years, the Festival of Lights has been a shining backdrop to Ashland’s many magical winter events and seasonally inspired theatrical productions. From November to New Year, the town’s Plaza, East Main Street, Lithia Way, Siskiyou Boulevard, Ashland Street, and surrounding shops all glow with the brightness of over a million bulbs.
Here’s a quick and dirty itinerary of how to enjoy hometown charm, adventure, and community warmth this holiday season at the Festival of Lights in Southern Oregon.
Between Oregon Cabaret Theatre’s A Christmas Carol and White Christmas performances, it’ll be tough to choose which holiday classic to experience. Oozing with jazzy 1920s charm and entertaining the Rogue Valley for thirty-five years, the ambiance will delight whichever you choose. Performing arts enthusiasts will also want to see the infamous Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s It’s Christmas, Carol, a hilarious musical satire with capitalism in its crosshairs. Founded in 1935, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is one of the nation’s oldest and largest professional non-profits. Showcases have grown from a three-day festival of two plays to a nationally renowned theater arts organization that presents a rotating repertoire of up to eight plays and musicals, including classics and new work. For an auditory experience, check out the Rogue World Music Winter Sound Walks. This curated art experience involves music, maps, art, and exploring the Festival of Lights.
First on your list for tantalizing your tastebuds with holiday cheer should be the Brine, Brew, and Barrel Fermentation Festival. The Pacific Northwest is famous for its microbrews and spirit creations. Combining this reputation with other fermented fantasies, you can sample exotic goods and cherry-pick homemade canned provisions as last-minute holiday presents for loved ones. For those into celebrating sliced meats and epic sandos, keep an eye out for the pop-up New York Jewish Deli. Larks Home Kitchen Cuisine, Bird & Rye, and Mas (mentioned on the New York Times’ top 50 restaurants in America list) are all popular fine dining options in Ashland. And don’t forget, while visiting an Oregon Cabaret Theatre production, order some of the exquisite cuisines they offer!
Of the many places to holiday shop this season, a collection of gift shops, the Paddington Station family of stores across from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival has something for everyone. Jewelry, books, a full gourmet kitchen shop, women’s apparel, and more are all found in a turn-of-the-century, restored 8,000-square-foot building. For markets of the maker variety, the Lithia Artisan Market Christmas Faire at the historic Ashland Armory and The Siskiyou School Winter Faire happen in early December.
Stay at the historic Ashland Springs Hotel in downtown Ashland to be transported back in time. Just a stone’s throw from Lithia Park and the Lithia water fountains, the best restaurants, breweries, and coffee houses, the Ashland Springs Hotel is central to all the amenities and winter festivities a vacationer could want. Built in the 1920s, this hotel’s original tagline was where the palms meet the pines, and as the tallest building between Portland and San Francisco, it marked a vital stopover point. The Neuman Group manages this property and two other hotels in town, Ashland Springs Resort with mineral water pools and Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites.
See you in Ashland this winter!