November 19th, 2021

A local’s guide to McMinnville holiday cheer

Simply driving down 3rd Street can put you in the mood to sing carols. Photo by Dan Hinmon.

Many folks start getting jazzed about the holidays as soon as they’ve handed out the remainder of their candy to their last trick-or-treater.  Others are not quite ready to embrace the holiday spirit until December. Regardless of where you might land on that yuletide-loving spectrum, it won’t take much of a nudge to get you into the holiday spirit if you make it to McMinnville sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Here’s how McMinnvillians do it.

Santa’s annual appearance in McMinnville never fails to spark joy. Photo by Dan Hinmon.

Santa’s Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony | November 26  

Picture yourself nestled along the street in McMinnville’s downtown corridor.  Floats and vehicles illuminated by Christmas lights ceremoniously parade by, with friendly elves handing out candy canes to the euphoric children as they wait for a glimpse of Santa.  At the tail end of the parade, Santa appears, atop a fire engine, and the crowd follows him down to the end of 3rd Street to watch for Santa to call for the massive sequoia tree in City Park to be lit.  As you can imagine, it’s the most magical downtown moment all year!   

Small Business Saturday | November 27 

For many, nothing kicks off the holiday season like Black Friday.  But McMinnvillians like to hold out one more day and support small, local businesses on what is known nationally as Small Business Saturday.  There is no shortage of retail opportunities in downtown McMinnville, and this year, many downtown businesses are participating in a shopping promotion; when you spend $25 or more you get a chance to win a golden ticket, awarding a getaway at the Atticus Hotel and dinner for two.  And even if you don’t win, you still get to enjoy the double-whammy of feelgoods by supporting small businesses, and finding the perfect gifts for the ones you love.  

Gallery Theater’s Christmas to Remember | December 10-12  

Gallery Theater ushers in the holiday cheer with three chances for folks of all ages to see a Christmas cabaret-style musical production.  Catch our favorite Gallery performers singing all of your favorite carols.  Note: Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the performance required.

Observe Downtown McMinnville from a new point of view. Photo by Dan Hinmon.

Horse-drawn Carriage Rides | Weekends throughout the season (weather permitting)  Maybe it’s the beautiful, jingle bell-adorned white horse, or the cozy carriage, but nothing invokes the feeling of an old-fashioned Christmas quite like a horse-drawn carriage ride.  Arriving most weekends during the holiday season, you can catch Gypsy Rose Carriage right outside of Serendipity Ice Cream.  McMinnvillians believe that there’s no better way to experience the old-timey charm of our lovely downtown.

McMinnville Holiday Market | November 26-28 & December 17-19  

If you’re still looking for a gift or two, head to The Bindery for their downtown holiday market.  Find locally crafted and/or selected items from vendors who were handpicked for their wares to create a perfect holiday vibe.  This year promises to be their biggest year yet, with such a wide variety of gifts from plant sculptures and wine, to tea and more!  You only have two weekends to catch this market, so be sure to get this event on the calendar.

If you do all of these things, and are still not in the holiday spirit, well, there’s no helping you to get there!  Either way, we hope you join us in McMinnville this year during our favorite season!

About the Author: Jamie Corff is the Marketing Coordinator for Visit McMinnville. You’ll likely find her enjoying the arts in the form of theater, music, and the written word. She is also a passionate cheerleader for the people and businesses that are integral to the vibrancy of her beloved Downtown McMinnville.