Cheap & Easy

55 Cheap & Easy Things To Do in Portland This Thanksgiving Weekend: Nov 24-28, 2021

The Grotto's Christmas Festival of Lights, a Grand Menorah Lighting, Les Blank Films, and More Last-Minute Events Under $15

November 23, 2021

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The Grotto's Christmas Festival of Lights is one of Portland's most well-known light displays, and also happens to be one of the most affordable ones. (The Grotto)

We don't need to remind you that Thanksgiving is this Thursday, or that Black Friday is this Friday, or that Small Business Saturday is this Saturday, but if the holidays have been taking up all your spare time and energy, one thing you might not know about are all the hassle-free events happening around town this long weekend—none of which will cost you more than $15. See them all below, from a Black Business Pop-Up Market to the Hollywood Theatre's Les Blank Celebration, and from a Grand Menorah Lighting in Pioneer Courthouse Square to the Pittock Mansion Christmas: Critters Make Merry.

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Thomas Lundy, Jake Silbermann, and Lance Edward host this weekly comedy showcase you'll want to plan your night around. (Unless the only other element of your night involves eating pizza, in which case you can grab a slice at the show—how convenient for you!) 
Mississippi Pizza, Boise ($5)


C'mon C'mon
An emotionally stunted radio journalist (Joaquin Phoenix) who makes a living interviewing kids about the world and their future is tasked with caring for his young nephew, who brings new meaning to the man's life as the pair travel together from state to state. A New York Times review calls Mike Mills's latest film "a story about love and the eternal tug of war between self-interest and caring for others."
Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District ($10)

Re-Run Theater—The Return of The King
In the last installment of Peter Jackson's epic trilogy, hobbit heavyweights Frodo and Samwise journey into the evil land of Mordor in their attempt to dispose of the Dark Lord Sauron’s One Ring. 
Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District ($10)


BOOTBLACKS with Xibling and Murderbait
Ride the dark wave with Brooklyn post-punk BOOTBLACKS, taking the stage after Xibling and Murderbait.
Star Theater, Old Town-Chinatown ($13)

TESTIFY!: Annual Pre-Thanksgiving Dance Party w/ DJs NO.Bi.Es, Bryson Wallace, Honest John & PLNT
Instead of fretting over pie dough and turkey brine, spend the night before Thanksgiving getting down to hip-hop and R&B with DJ NO.Bi.Es.
Holocene, Buckman ($5-$10)



Black Business Pop Up Market
Built Oregon will “turn Black Friday into….well, Black Friday,” giving you the chance to support Black-owned businesses with your dollars. Among the lineup are Glory Skincare (a 2021 Sephora Accelerate Program participant), growing media empire A Kids Company About, and social justice-minded brand Mimi’s Fresh Tees.
CENTRL Office, West End (free) 


Burn Hollywood Burn: The Story of A Three Day Pass
The theater's Melvin Van Peebles series continues with the director's 1968 debut, which follows a Black American soldier who's given three days' leave in Paris, where his romance with a French woman is dampened by his impending departure and an onslaught of racial prejudice all around him. 
Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District ($10)

Clinton Cult Classics: The Enigma of Kasper Hauser
A Werner Herzog classic, The Enigma of Kasper Hauser is based on the true story of a young man who suddenly appeared in Nuremberg in 1828, barely able to talk or walk, and bearing a strange note. He later managed to explain that he’d been held captive in a dungeon for his entire life, and only after decades was he released, for reasons still unknown. 
Clinton Street Theater, Hosford-Abernethy ($6)

Gift of Fire
A collaboration between American and Japanese creators, Gift of Fire traces the history of US-Japan conflict over the past 75 years (including, of course, the incarceration of Japanese Americans in the Northwest during World War II) and the road to reconciliation.  
Clinton Street Theater, Hosford-Abernethy ($15)

Mondo Trasho: Blood Rage
Mondo Trasho's Black Friday screening of Blood Rage is back, baby. Watch as a mother (Louise Lasser) learns the murderous half of her two twin sons (Mark Soper) has escaped from an institution and is headed home for a bloody reunion.
Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District ($10)


Hungry, Hungry Hip-Hop Showcase
This monthly hip-hop showcase highlights local MCs. As for the lineup, you'll have to show up and be surprised. 
Mississippi Pizza, Boise ($5)

Taken by The Sky
Channel drunk Joan Cusack in School of Rock for this tribute night to Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks.
Alberta Street Pub, King ($12)



Soy Cuba
Mikhail Kalatozov began making this Havana-set film just a week after the onset of the Cuban missile crisis. Jumping from scenes of lavish pool parties at an American-owned casino to depictions of Cuban poverty and student protests, the film is somewhere between a romance and a cultural commentary. 
Clinton Street Theater, Hosford-Abernethy ($7-$10)

The General
Buster Keaton's 1926 masterpiece, shot on location in Cottage Grove, Oregon, features the most expensive stunt ever filmed in the silent era: the iconic shot of a real locomotive crashing off a collapsing bridge and into the ravine below. Tom Cruise could never!
Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District ($12)


BLOWPONY! get stuffed
The forced pleasantries of Thanksgiving are over and it's time to get positively saucy. Here to help you do so are visiting performers like LA's Kornbread Jeté and Hershii Liqcour Jeté, plus Portland's own Daizelle Marie Lou'Viere-D'Ho and Angelica D'Vil, plus DJs and go-go dancers.
Bossanova Ballroom, East Burnside ($13)

Cuffed Up, Helens
Newly formed LA indie-rock outfit Cuffed Up wears its love of UK punk and Sonic Youth on its sleeve. Catch them after an opening set from moody Portland rockers Helens.
Bunk Bar, Central Eastside ($13)

Funk Yeah
DJs Jason Wann and NoN are at your service with funky hits (plus any other requests you may throw at them) from the '70s to now. 
The Lombard Pub, Arbor Lodge (free)

Noise from the Void
Portland duo Noise From the Void brings a unique blend of hip-hop, rock, and alt jams to the stage. Tonight they'll follow equally genre-diverse acts like Cordetta Boyz, Dmarx, and Lambo Lawson.
Mississippi Pizza, Boise ($10)

Opal Underground Presents: UwU Collective
Named symbolically after the multi-faceted gemstone, Opal is a tribute to Portland's queer underground nightlife. This month's party will feature a special appearance from UwU on the decks, along with Opal Underground resident DJs. 
Holocene, Buckman ($5-$10)

Resist Indigenous Erasure Benefit Show
Celebrate Native American Heritage Day, with Contrapact, HOPE?, Nyx Division, and DJ Smooth Hopperator.
Star Theater, Old Town-Chinatown ($10) 

Sit Pretty, Storie Grubb, Slam Piece
David Lynch-loving pop quartet Sit Pretty may or may not bust out some special Christmas covers at this night out with folk-rocker Storie Grubb and Slam Piece.
No Fun, Buckman ($8)

Head to the latest installment of this DJ dance party geared toward LGBTQ+ people of color, and feel good knowing that a portion of proceeds will benefit Planned Parenthood and a local charity. 
Morrison Market, Buckman ($5-$10)


Drag 'N Drop
Mix things up at this monthly drag-heavy variety show.
Local Lounge, King ($10)


PDX Moon Market
This lunar-loving market was created by a pair of queer vendors/owners of Little Rituals just last year. They've created a space to celebrate fellow small business owners, and you can help them by patronizing makers like Y Tú Studio, Rooted by Plant Mamis, YRS, and more. Best of all, pups are welcome and shoppers are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags.
Everett West, Pearl District (free)

Pomarius & Friends 5th Annual Holiday Bazaar
If you're an avid flora fan, Pomarius' "spirited, greenery forward, festive showcase of small businesses" is your destination for holiday gifts. Stroll through the nursery's open-air green space and enjoy fare from Astral and libations from Bauman's Cider and Duality Brewing, plus a special wine tasting by Nostrana. DJs Nym and Atom 13 will bring the tunes, and 100% of admission from the event will go to the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA).
Pomarius Nursery, Slabtown ($5)

Portland Bazaar Pop-Up
This pop-up will be an appetizer to the Bazaar's main event in December—30+ vendors embodying the spirit of Small Business Saturday will be dotted around the square's magnificent tree for a holiday shopping event like no other.
Pioneer Courthouse Square, Downtown (free)

Winter Makers Mercado
Portland's hub for Latino culture hosts this weekly in-person market at their plaza, where you can enjoy food and drink, live music and performances, and local community craft vendors.
Portland Mercado, Mount Scott-Arleta (free)

Small Wyrd Business Saturday!
Stock up on mead and leather goods for the people in your life who cherish such things. 
Wyrd Leather and Mead, Woodstock (free)

Spectrum Holiday Art Market
Shop a variety of unique gifts from 17 LGBTQ2SIA+ artists, including Bumble Bath Soap, Entangled Roots Press, Reflective Society, and more in the 14,000 square foot warehouse space.
ADX, Buckman (free)


Blue Collar Wrestling Worldwide Presents: Go Stuff Yourself
Watch the Rockefeller Foundation take on the Freakshow right before Russian Hellhound Gregor Petrov defends himself against Hillbilly JB Moonshine as BCW Worldwide Returns to the eastside for a rousing night of wrestling.
Holocene, Buckman ($12)



Les Blank Celebration
This annual Les Blank-athon returns just in time for your appetite to return after your Thanksgiving feast. In honor of the late indie director's 85th birthday, this year's program will include the food-focused documentary shorts "Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe" (wherein the German director travels to Berkley to cook and consume one of his own shoes in celebration of Errol Morris's first film) and "Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers" (which the theater describes as "an odyssey of garlic feasts blended with uniquely individual interviews of garlic aficionados, lovers and chefs").
Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District ($10)


Honey-D, Dead Steady Sound
Move around to deep dub and "punky reggae" from Honey-D and Dead Steady Sound. 
No Fun, Buckman (free)

Illegal Son, Sama Dams
Filipino trombonist Denzel Mendoza tackles what it means to be an undocumented musician under the moniker Illegal Son. Grab a burger from the adjoining Bar Bar and hear him play after an opening set from Portland "avant-rock" band Sama Dams.
Mississippi Studios, Boise ($12)


From Beyond The Space!
Sue from Corporate and DJ Aurora will get interstellar thanks to special drag performances from Mister Zero- 1, Princess Antera, Baba Yusef, Sequin McQueen, and other fabulous space queens. 
Mississippi Pizza, Boise ($10-$15)

Piano Queen Homo for The Holidays
Celebrate queerness, the holidays, and a classic string instrument with Saint Syndrome and special guest Nicole Onoscopi. 
Star Theater, Old Town-Chinatown ($12-$15)


Scrap Creative Reuse Crafternoon!
Unleash your inner child as your actual child unleashes their creativity during this Sunday afternoon workshop series at creative reuse center and craft store SCRAP. Their education specialist will guide families step-by-step through creative activities with themes ranging from bugs and robots to zines and journals. If the craft of the week doesn't spark joy, an assortment of craft supplies will be available for you to "free-create."
Scrap, Goose Hollow ($5)


First Annual DIY Dreidel Challenge
Dreidels, dreidels, dreidels: You can make them out of clay, but can you make them out of scrap materials? The sustainable art supply store certainly believes you can, and they'll help you get crafty with basic instructions from their education specialist.
Scrap, Goose Hollow ($5)

Portland’s Public Menorah Lighting
Chabad of Oregon will have the honor of lighting the giant menorah in Pioneer Courthouse Square; a ceremony bolstered by live music, Hanukkah noshes, "dignitaries," and other family-friendly festivities.
Pioneer Courthouse Square, Downtown (free)



Ha Ha Harvest
Close out the month with a three-day comedy festival with sketches, live podcast tapings, and more. 
Kelly's Olympian, Downtown ($10+)


15 Years of LAIKA
Stop-motion studio LAIKA, based in Hillsboro and owned by none other than Nike co-founder Phil Knight, is celebrating its 15th anniversary with screenings (complete with filmmaker Q&As) of all five of its Oscar-nominated films, from Coraline to Missing Link. Before or after you enjoy one of the films, examine displays of meticulously made puppets and set pieces in the accompanying pop-up exhibit.
OMSI, Central Eastside ($11-$15)
(Tuesday-Sunday); closing


La Fête du Macaron Pix-O-Matic Popup
As they do each year, Pix Pâtisserie has planned an all-out celebration honoring the delicate French meringue-based confection. This year, they'll stock their magical 24-hour Pix-O-Matic vending machine with 30 different flavors of colorful macarons. Flavors range from raspberry and salted caramel to cassis violet, sherry almond, calamansi lime, and the Big Lebowski-inspired "The Dude" (a White Russian-flavored macaron "in bowling ball formation"). For a chance to win a free tasting set with all 30 flavors, download a coloring page template from Pix's website or pick one up by the vending machine, fill it in with your favorite colors, and submit it at the restaurant's dropbox. All entries will be up for display over the weekend and judged by visitors to the Pix-O-Matic: The entry that garners the most grins on camera will be crowned the winner.
Pix Patisserie, Kerns


Geek the Halls 2021
The long-running craft fair is back with 60 local artists hawking gifts for each and every nerd in your life. 
Doubletree Hotel, Lloyd District (free)

Pokémon Govember
On Saturdays and Sundays at 6 pm, Portland artist Mike Bennett and 2025th Street will drop an original Pokémon cutout in a secret location in town. Gather your Pokémon hunting crew and try to catch 'em all. 
Various locations (free)


Professor Jekyll and Miss Hyde: A Modern Adaptation
Robert Louis Stevenson's Gothic novella gets a gender-flipped refresh, swapping out the original story for one that comments on the moral hangups and hypocrisies of the #MeToo era. 
Twilight Theater Company, Arbor Lodge ($15)


Alberta Street Gallery Holiday Gift Show 
Thirty local artists will sell their fresh slate of ceramics, paintings, photography, fabric art, woodwork, and more for your art-loving gift recipients. 
Alberta Street Gallery, Concordia (free)

MESO Market
Hosted by nonprofit Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon, this market will showcase 14 BIPOC entrepreneurs and is open all season long for your shopping convenience. A pair of different food vendors will rotate every two weeks, Fridays and Saturdays will include entertainment.
1237 NE Alberta St., Alberta Arts District (free)

Night Market Vancouver
Enjoy live music, DJ sets, half-hour dance lessons, and holiday festivities over two days at this lively market which boasts over 70 vendors.
The Vic, Vancouver ($5-$6)

Small Shops Big Hearts
Go in with a game plan for this shopping event that encompasses over 90 local businesses in virtually every category, from bike shops to pets and record stores to restaurants. Holiday gift-seekers will earn incentives when buying their wares, from physical prizes to rewards points, using the local payment app Kuto.
Various locations (free)

PDX Pop-Up Shops
The annual downtown pop-up shop initiative returns for another holiday shopping season, bringing small and emerging retailers into vacant storefronts to support their business development. This year's roster of seven shops includes Indigenous Come-Up (apparel, accessories, and jewelry), The Pickle Jar (Portland Pickles' clubhouse and team store), and Ceramic NW (a ceramic showcase by the Oregon Potters Association).
Various locations, Downtown (free)
(All week)

A Vintage Christmas Show 2021
Charm the socks off your gift recipients or housemates by picking up antique Christmas bits and baubles. 
Monticello Antique Marketplace, Montavilla (free)
(All week)


Anya Roberts-Toney // If She Floats
Anya Roberts-Toney's exhibition of new paintings at Nationale draw on imagery of female bathers in otherworldly landscapes. The gallery explains the title painting's reference to a dark piece of history: "Float tests were forced on women accused of witchcraft in the late 1600s. If the woman being tested floated in water, she was found guilty of being a witch, and if she sank (often drowning), she was considered innocent. At the time the saying was: 'If she floats, she burns.' Roberts-Toney’s new body of work is both an acknowledgment of this sinister period of history, and also a reclamation of female power."
Nationale, Buckman (free)
(Friday-Sunday); closing

Carl Bower: Private Fears
After overcoming a years-long personal struggle wherein he was forced to take out a restraining order against a former partner, photographer Carl Bower asked complete strangers to share their fears and be photographed. "For some, the experience is cathartic," writes the gallery. "This series examines the dichotomy between who we are and who we appear to be and how little we know of those around us, and what they carry."
Blue Sky Gallery, North Park Blocks (free)
(Friday-Saturday); closing

Steven B. Smith: Your Mountain is Waiting
Steven B. Smith explores how we as a culture value and shape our landscapes. He created the project in Utah, where he grew up, after years of living on the East Coast, with the goal of showing the "complicated relationships" that denizens of the west have with their surrounding environment. "Whether they are recreating or building a new home their love of the landscape is expressed through conspicuous consumption," writes the gallery.
Blue Sky Gallery, North Park Blocks (free)
(Friday-Saturday); closing


The Grotto's Christmas Festival of Lights 2021
Things are still a bit scaled back for public health reasons, but you can still expect over two million lights and nightly indoor concerts at the self-proclaimed "largest Christmas choral festival in the world." 
The Grotto, Sumner (free)

Pittock Mansion Christmas: Critters Make Merry
The historic mansion's annual Christmas display will turn to the whimsical creatures of the season this year, transforming its many rooms into havens for reindeer, polar bears, lions, and cute little mice. 
Pittock Mansion, Hillside ($13)
(All week)