Cheap & Easy

The Best Bang for Your Buck Events in Portland This Weekend: Nov 17–19, 2023

Wild Arts Festival, St. Johns Plaza Tree Lighting, and More Cheap & Easy Events Under $15
November 17, 2023
If you're an early bird for holiday cheer, head to St. Johns Plaza's Annual Tree Lighting to see a tree decked out with ugly sweater ornaments. (St. Johns Boosters via Facebook)
This weekend marks the calm before the Thanksgiving storm—enjoy it with cheap and cheerful events from the Wild Arts Festival to St. Johns Plaza's Annual Tree Lighting and from Soul Conversation: Living History in Albina to the new Todd Haynes film May December. For more ideas, check out our guide to this week's top events.

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Film Screening: Tove Past Event List
Whether you're in Oslo or the Pacific Northwest, nothing sounds more autumnal than a cozy Nordic movie screening, right? Nordic Northwest agrees, and their hygge film programming offers a little something for everyone's cinema tastes. This time around, they'll screen Tove, which follows the life of the beloved Moomin creator as she navigates queer love in the aftermath of World War II. Attendees can sip on a range of Oregon wines, beers, and non-alcoholic options during the film, and resident troll expert (yes, that's a thing!!) Britte Rasmussen Marsh will chat trolls beforehand, offering a wide context of "discord and history" pulled from her ample troll research. LC
(Nordic Northwest, Metzger, $5-$15)


Jenny Owen Youngs Past Event List
Although it's been more than a decade since singer-songwriter Jenny Owen Youngs released a full-length album, she's hardly taken a break. Since her 2012 album An Unwavering Band of Light was released, Youngs has penned several hit songs (most notably co-writing Panic! at the Disco's 2018 hit "High Hopes") and launched two wildly popular TV recap podcasts (Buffering the Vampire Slayer and Veronica Mars Investigations). This year, she is returning to her recording artist roots with a new album titled Avalanche. Through acoustic pop songs with dreamy string arrangements, Youngs lyrically explores loss, resilience, and growth. She will support the album alongside indie pop "wunderkind" (NPR) John Mark Nelson. AV (Mississippi Studios, Boise, $20)


St. Johns Plaza Annual Tree Lighting Past Event List
Is before Thanksgiving too early to start celebrating Christmas? St. Johns doesn't seem to care, as they're fully embracing the holiday spirit with tree lighting festivities on Friday. While you wait for the big reveal, you can make an Ugly Sweater ornament to hang on the tree, enjoy free hot chocolate and Cookie Monsterz cookies, and take a listen to carols from the Roosevelt High School choir. SL
(St. Johns Plaza, St. Johns, free)



Something Weird: A Comedy Show Past Event List
Those who prefer their comedy with a side of bizarre, alternative, and "experiential" antics should show up for Something Weird, which showcases local comedy performers at their most peculiar. Hosted by quirk fanatics Annabelle Wright (off with her head!) and Haley Klarfeld, this month's round-up will include weird-out laughs from Kyle Adams, Brendan Albano, Butter: The Comedy Show host Cam Strong, and Dr. Pepper stan Delaney Malone. LC
(Curious Comedy Annex, King, $15)


The X-Files at 30 Past Event List
Pop on a black skirt suit and grab your bulky Nokia! The truth is apparently still out there, and I, for one, am happy to bring my FBI agent besties Mulder and Scully back into the mix. (Guys, I need you to investigate, like...everything. All of it. Everything that's gone on for the last decade or so.) To celebrate the 30th anniversary of The X-Files, the Hollywood will screen "the ultimate" two-part episode, with appearances by the weirdos X-Files fans have grown to love, including "faceless bounty hunters, alien/human hybrids, and the Lone Gunmen." I hope that the cannibal guy from the episode that traumatized me when I was nine stays far away. LC
(Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District, Sold Out)


23rd Avenue Bottle Shop Celebrates 8 Years Past Event List
McMenamins' 23rd Avenue Bottle Shop will celebrate being in business for the better part of a decade with the release of their new blondie-inspired Birthday Reserve No. 8, a blonde stout barrel-aged in a Hogshead Whiskey barrel with rum-soaked vanilla beans. You can snag a taster tray with the new release, last year's Birthday Reserve, and a mini blondie bar for $10. Plus, participate in a "discovery hunt" and get 20% off all Bottle Shop logo merchandise. JB
(23rd Avenue Bottle Shop-McMenamins, Northwest Portland)

Portland Artisan Holiday Market Past Event List
Not sure what to get your food-obsessed friend who worships Sohla El-Waylly, throws the best dinner parties, and always has a sourdough starter going? Look no further than STEELPORT's Holiday Market, which will feature signed cookbooks from local chefs courtesy of Powell's, as well as dumplings from Kachka, cookware from FINEX, hot sauce from Marshall's Haute Sauce (which was featured on this season of the hit YouTube series Hot Ones), coffee from Coava and Deadstock, items from Ken's Artisan Bakery, and much more. Plus, take a factory tour, get any STEELPORT knife sharpened for free, and get a free custom knife sheath engraving from Rebecca Nguyen of Line & Wave on any STEELPORT sheath. JB
(Steelport Knife Co., Laurelhurst, free)


We Are Scientists Past Event List
The California-based electro-rock duo consisting of guitarist/vocalist Keith Murray and bass guitarist Chris Cain will return to Portland to support of their latest album, Lobes. Embracing synths and electronics on the new record (their past albums have been guitar-centric), the album stands out with "a hazy tapestry of half-remembered sounds and shopworn tropes, all absorbed secondhand through persistent exercises in nostalgia, whether retro radio revivals, vintage MTV broadcasts, video games, or other bands who got around to resuscitating the sounds of the 1980s first." (Pitchfork) Don't miss an opening set from indie pop artist/producer Sean McVerry. AV
(Show Bar, Buckman, $20)


Soul Conversation: Living History in Albina Past Event List
The Albina Music Trust—a label/education entity that "[preserves] North Portland’s music culture with programming that documents the Black community’s oral history, archival media, and special events"—will host some of Albina's elder musicians for a live discussion. Beloved musicians including Norman Sylvester, Ural Thomas, Paul Knauls, J.W. Friday, Mel Brown, and Calvin Walker will activate memories of their upbringing and careers in the neighborhood through storytelling.  Archival photography will be presented in conjunction with the conversation. AV
(Holocene, Buckman, free)



Beaujolais and Beauty Past Event List
Seasoned sommelier Michael Perman will guide you through a journey of tasting the 2023 Beaujolais Nouveau release alongside other exquisite French wines. While you're there, admire the New Modernist's impressive collection of 20th century design and decor. JB
(The New Modernist, Buckman, free)


Portland Fruit Tree Project Benefit Show: Ruune, Femme Cell, Culture Cat, and Second Half Walters Past Event List
Local artists including the electro-pop project Ruune, punk outfit Femme Cell, art-pop quintet Culture Cat, and alt-rock band Second Half Walters will join forces to support the Portland Fruit Tree Project. The grassroots nonprofit empowers neighbors to share in the harvest and care of urban fruit trees to expand access to healthy food, cleaner air, and shade. AV
(Holocene, Buckman, $10)

The Apricots Past Event List
The Apricots are an indie-pop band with alt-funk tendencies. Aiming to make you "swoon one minute and groove the next," they achieve the juxtaposition with their candy-sweet harmonies and melodic rhythm section. Dark pop duo BABERS will open the show with tracks off their sophomore EP Somebody's Loss. AV
(Mississippi Studios, Boise, $12)


Black Sunday: Gifts & Riffs Past Event List
After a three-year hiatus, the stylish local clothing and accessories brand Altar is bringing back its beloved holiday event: Black Sunday. Beat the rush of all the holiday shoppers next weekend, and leisurely browse wares from ceramics to jewelry to "haute" sauce at this curated market. There will be tasty bites from Tamale Boy and tunes from DJs Gregarious and Disorder, and you can even swing by the bar for some bubbly to go with your shopping. SL
(Pigeon Toe, Eliot, free)

Witches Wonderland Dark Market Past Event List
A witches' market at a shoe store? Count us in. If your vibe is more creepy than jolly, stop by this market featuring goods from local makers including handcrafted jewelry, whimsical fine art, floral arrangements, and vintage clothing. Grab gifts for loved ones, and don't forget to treat yourself—a tarot reader will be on deck to demystify your past, present, and future. SL
(John Fluevog Shoes, Southwest Portland, free)



Chrysanthemum Festival Past Event List
Step aside, pumpkins—it's chrysanthemum season! Lan Su is celebrating the beauty and cultural significance of the autumn flower with a series of horticultural programs, plant walks, and cultivation demonstrations. These hard-to-pronounce (and even harder-to-spell) blooms have rich meaning in Chinese culture; symbolizing longevity, nobility, and endurance. This programming is all included in regular garden admission, but hurry up, it closes this weekend! SL
(Lan Su Chinese Garden, Old Town-Chinatown, $0-14, Friday-Sunday)


Celebrating Birds of the Pacific Northwest Past Event List
In 2020, I started birding: I'd been laid off from my previous job due to COVID-19 uncertainty and found myself with an unfamiliar amount of hours to fill. (It's interesting how a brief respite from the binds of capitalism nudges us toward the natural world, but anyway.) If you're "going through it" in any capacity, I highly recommend looking toward the skies—there's a lot going on up there. Or maybe you're a birder already. If so, what's your spark bird?! Mine is the northern flicker...but I digress. This exhibition of works by contemporary wildlife photographers Ken Goldman, Ryan Hooper, Dan Kearl, and Diana Rebman explores the abundance and diversity of our avian friends. You'll catch sight of regional beauts like the lazuli bunting, osprey, and great horned owl. Chances are good that you'll be inspired to pick up some 'nocs afterward. LC
(Oregon Historical Society, South Park Blocks, $0-$10, Friday-Sunday)

Halloween Cultural Preservation Museum Past Event List
If your Halloween tastes lean more toward old-school skeletons, plastic light-up pumpkins, and vintage Dracula posters than this year's Barbie and TikTok-influenced costumes, you'll probably dig the Halloween Cultural Preservation Museum, a pop-up exhibit occupying the old Spencer's at Lloyd Center. The project "aims to keep the traditions and spirit of Halloween’s golden age alive and well through education and preservation," which means visitors can scope out the best in Halloween commercialism from the '20s through the '90s. Expect rare and vintage decorations, including a "replica of an '80s living room, where old Halloween commercials play on a tiny, cathode-ray tube TV" (The Oregonian). LC
(Lloyd Center, Lloyd District, $8, Saturday-Sunday)


Wild Arts Festival Past Event List
Returning for its 43rd annual fundraiser this year, the Wild Arts Festival supports the education and conservation work of the (soon-to-be renamed) Portland Audubon Society with a nature-themed art sale, a silent auction, and book signings and appearances (I'm stoked to meet my fave local birder, Seymour Gulls, and Forest Park expert Marcy C. Houle). LC
(Viking Pavilion at the Peter W. Stott Center, South Park Blocks, $11.49-$12.49, Saturday-Sunday)


Anatomy of a Fall Past Event List
In one of Burial's unreleased tracks, you will find a sample that makes this claim: "It's like people had forgotten how to make a tune." Something similar can be said about the cinema of the procedural. It's hard to find a director who can do it right, who deeply understands the form. This is why Anatomy of a Fall, a French film by Justine Triet, is so remarkable: It's 100% a thriller. There is a crime, an investigation, a suspect, and, of course, lots of drama in the court. Triet builds all of the questions (Who did it? What are we missing? Why is the man nearly blind? What about the music? The aspirin?) into a solid maze. And the tension increases the closer we get to its core. Anatomy of a Fall (what a great title) deserved the Palme d'Or it won at this year's Cannes Film Festival. STRANGER SENIOR WRITER CHARLES MUDEDE
(Cinema 21, Nob Hill, $9-$11, Friday-Sunday)

The Holdovers Remind List
It's November. It's time to watch Paul Giamatti act his little heart out as a curmudgeonly educator at a New England prep school in the '60s, where a gaggle of students have been left behind on Christmas break. Honestly, though, have you ever heard a film premise that made you want to wear wool socks and drink apple cider more than this one? Plus, and perhaps most importantly, The Holdovers was directed by Alexander Payne, aka the guy who made Election and that movie about wine. It's going to be funny and charming!!! Enjoy. LC
(Cinema 21, Nob Hill, $9-$11, Friday-Sunday)

May December Remind List
If I’m going to watch an ouroboros, I’ll take one helmed by someone as curious and literate as Todd Haynes. Though May December doesn’t rank with the director’s top-tier achievements—it lacks the sublimity of Carol, the mad invention of I’m Not There, the elemental force of Safe—its intelligence and staying power are tough to discredit. It really is one of the thorniest, most thought-provoking movies you’ll see this year. PORTLAND MERCURY CONTRIBUTOR CONNER REED
(Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District, $10-$12, Friday-Sunday)

Priscilla Past Event List
Sofia Coppola basically invented the "young women coming of age amid heartbreak" genre, so it should come as no surprise that she wanted to tell Priscilla Beaulieu's story. The trailer for Priscilla is all dreamy and forlorn, full of eyelashes and big hair and foreboding. (I mean, she's 14 and hanging out with Elvis. What could go wrong?) I will be seated, not because I'm particularly interested in the great American myth that is Presley, but because the people who radiate around larger-than-life figures are often the most interesting ones. LC
(Cinema 21, Nob Hill, $9-$11, Friday-Sunday)


The Makers Fair Holiday Market Remind List
This 11-week market will feature 140 local craftspeople all under one roof, so consider your gift-giving list trounced. Vanquished. Utterly defeated. If you are the type of person who starts stressing about "the holidays" long before they're here (aka me), never fear: You'll find pretty much everything under Santa's sun, from woodturned decor to vintage goods, candles, and holiday treats, at the gargantuan pop-up. LC
(Rejuvenation, Buckman, free, Friday-Sunday)

Portland Holiday Market Past Event List
We don't know if it's possible to get all your holiday shopping done under one roof, but if it is, this would be the place. With 100,000 square feet of vendors selling everything from home décor to spirits to artwork, the Portland Holiday Market entreats you to shop outside the big box stores and find unique gifts for your loved ones. SL
(Portland Expo Center, North Portland, $10, Friday-Sunday)


Anya Roberts-Toney: Water Witch Moon Mother Remind List
I gushed about Anya Roberts-Toney's work in a piece for Art & About PDX a few years back, so it's safe to say I'm stoked to see her return to Nationale for another solo exhibition of jewel-toned compositions, which typically contain equal parts feminine revelry and illusive unease. Sneak peeks on her Instagram reveal a move toward bolder, more color-forward compositions in oil-on-linen, but Roberts-Toney maintains a dreamy sensibility that always reminds me of that one episode of Wishbone where he travels to the Eloi's futuristic, pink-tinged fruit garden from The Time Machine, in the best possible way. (If you have no idea what I'm referencing, why not remedy that by spending some time with Water Witch Moon Mother?) LC
(Nationale, Buckman, free, Friday-Sunday)

Converge 45 Contemporary Arts Biennial Remind List
The free, citywide art exhibition Converge 45 is in full swing, with artists showcased across over 15 venues in Portland, including college campuses, the Portland Japanese Garden, and Pioneer Square. The biennial's theme, Social Forms: Art as Global Citizenship, takes on topics of Amazon deforestation, indigeneity, citizenship, and immigration, and aims to amplify the voices and experiences of people of color, so you're bound to find a cause you can get behind. I'm looking forward to local textile legend and Seneca Nation member Marie Watt's Chords to Other Chords (Relative) and Yishai Jusidman's history-driven cyanotypes in Prussian Blue. LC
(Various locations, free, Friday-Sunday)

Danny Aros-Aguilar: Sandunga Nunca Muere Remind List
Colombian American non-binary artist Danny Aros-Aguilar reflects on cultural complexities and their gender queerness in Sandunga Nunca Muere, which spotlights the artist's commitment to "celebrating, highlighting, and leaving a print of brown queerness in history." The works in the exhibition were created in collaboration with Aros-Aguilar's Oaxaca-based friends, reflecting upon their conversations on Muxe culture and the marginalization of queer people in Oaxaca. I love Machete al Machote, in which Aros-Aguilar's subject wields a massive machete. LC
(Blue Sky Gallery, Pearl District, free, Friday-Saturday)

Secret Room Work•Shop Pop-Up Remind List
Risograph print studio and comics and art publisher Secret Room Press has joined the other lovably artsy weirdos at Lloyd Center and opened a sparkly new pop-up art gallery and print shop. The Secret Room Work•Shop is home to Life on Earth: A RISO Art Show, "a RISO art show showcasing over 25 cartoonists from the Pacific Northwest and beyond," plusweekly events and workshops and a curated selection of books, cassettes, vinyl, and VHS. Drop by the next time you're headed to Floating World Comics. LC
(Lloyd Center, Lloyd District, free, Friday-Sunday)

Seeding: A Group Exhibition of Seattle Artists Past Event List
This cross-city pollination invites six artists from the Seattle "artist-forward exhibition space" The Vestibule to showcase work in Portland, while Well Well Projects collective artists will install an exhibition in Seattle. Curated by Kascha Semonovitch, The Vestibule's exhibition Seeding "challenged notions of installation art, possession of place, and expectations of a gallery experience" with focuses on material growth and "seeds" of future conversation. I'm excited to see what one of my favorite regional artists, Francesca Lohmann, will share on these themes. LC
(Well Well, Kenton, free, Friday-Saturday)

Yellena James: Weightless Past Event List
Bosnian-born artist Yellena James came to the United States with her family as a refugee in 1995 in the aftermath of the Bosnian Civil War. After studying painting and graphic design at the University of Central Florida, she made her way to Portland; since then, she's developed an aesthetic of organic forms with a fantastical feel. James's compositions are easy to get lost in—they're inspired by design principles of the natural world, and often feel like bouquets from another planet. LC
(Chefas Projects, Central Eastside, free, Friday-Saturday; closing)

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