The spirit of the season is alive and well in Bend

Nobody knows how to make an entrance like Old St. Nick.

On Friday, Nov. 23 – the day after Thanksgiving – Santa Claus drops into the Les Schwab Amphitheater with a little help from the AirLink helicopter crew at 10:15 a.m., kicking off a month-long holiday celebration in the Old Mill District.

The Old Mill District comes alive during the holiday months. Bundle up and stroll along the river and take in the sights and sounds of carolers or hit up one of various special holiday events at the shops throughout the Old Mill District.Annual Christmas Lights Kayak

Of course, it’s all anchored by SantaLand, a special place where families can get their picture taken with the man in red himself. Open every Friday through Sunday after Thanksgiving until Dec. 23, SantaLand is also home to the Tree of Joy, where you can find gift ideas for kids in-need.

Want to kick off the festivities early? Come down for the I Like Pie fun run at 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. You’ll be able to eat more turkey and stuffing later in the day, have a slice of post-race pie AND raise money for NeighborImpact and Girls on the Run.

You’ll also want to make sure to come to the First Friday Gallery Walk on Dec. 7. First Fridays are always fun, but our December event is one to remember with the Old Mill District lit up and decorated for the holiday season.

The Old Mill District also proudly holds a menorah lighting ceremony on Dec. 2.

Speaking of lights, you won’t want to miss Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe’s annual Holiday Lights Paddle Parade on the Deschutes, Dec. 14. Come sunset, there’ll be an entire flotilla of kayaks and canoes lit up in festive holiday lights making their way up and down the river.