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Words and Photographs by Oliver Pickens

Portlanders can always use another excuse to get outside during the winter months, and the first ever Portland Winter Light Festival gave us one more. Designed to “celebrate the spirit of winter and warmth of community,” the Portland Winter Lights Festival, at the Eastbank Esplanade, featured all different kinds of displays, from neon hover crafts to paper airplanes made of glass, but the one thing they all had in common was light.

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At points the dazzling lights and good cheer of everyone in attendance, coupled with the view of downtown from the esplanade, made me feel as though I was walking through a magical wonderland similar to Peacock Lane. At other points, while walking under the freeway, hearing the loud bass from some of the displays made me feel as though I was a part of some secret underground society.

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Even the Portland Spirit got dressed up for this occasion. It was adorned with lights and offered free rides across the Willamette, while the Portland Opera performed live on board. Back on the mainland, what is any Portland event these days without a bike parade? Dozens of bikers made their way through the crowds on glowing, strobing, polychromatic bikes of all different shapes and sizes, including four that were really trying to spread the love.

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Did you go? What was your favorite installation?

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