There’s a lot to love in Bend during the winter months

We heart the holiday season in Central Oregon.

From hot chocolate dates around fire pits and early morning runs at Mt. Bachelor to curling leagues at The Pavilion and SantaLand in the Old Mill District, Bend and the surrounding areas embrace the winter months with a zeal rarely seen outside of the North Pole.

This year, the U. S. Capitol Christmas Tree party kicks off the holiday season early on Nov. 12. Come down to the Les Schwab Amphitheater from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to see a specially selected noble fir from the Willamette National Forest that will be displayed on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. during the holiday season. There’ll be free arts and crafts, cookies, cider and appearances by Smokey Bear and Santa Claus.

Looking to work up an appetite? Don’t miss a turkey tradition like non-other, Bend’s famous I Like Pie fun run on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22 at 9 a.m. Choose from a flat and fast 5K around the Deschutes River or a family-friendly 1.5-mile loop, both of which start and finish in the Old Mill District’s Center Plaza. Better yet, you’ll earn some post-race pie and all proceeds from the run go to NeighborImpact and Girls on the Run.

Just one day after Central Oregon’s favorite turkey trot, Santa Claus hitches a ride into the Les Schwab Amphitheater on Nov. 23 with his helicopter buddies from AirLink. Santa’s dramatic drop in kicks off a month-long holiday celebration in the Old Mill District.

SantaLand, located this year between desperado and Avalon Salon highlights the festivities. Families can stop in and take pictures will Jolly St. Nick every Friday through Sunday, 11 a.m  to 5 p.m., after Thanksgiving until Dec. 23. You’ll also find the Tree of Joy in the Old Mill District, a project between the Rotary Clubs of Central Oregon and the Salvation Army that provides gift suggestions for children and families in need.

Other events this winter include a very special First Friday Gallery Walk on Dec. 7 in which the Old Mill District is decorated and illuminated for the holiday season, Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe’s annual Holiday Lights Paddle on the Deschutes on Dec. 14, and the Chabad of Central Oregon’s menorah lighting ceremony on Dec. 2.