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Santa Arrives in Bend Oregon at the Old Mill District


Bundle up your crew, grab some warm drinks and see the jolly guy in Bend this December. We’re so happy Santa is available to visit the families of Central Oregon in person. The first three Fridays and Saturdays in December: Dec. 4-5, Dec. 11-12, and Dec. 18-19, Santa will swing by the Old Mill District and pick up letters that have been dropped off in the two special North Pole mailboxes in the district.

With a little help from his friends in Bend, Santa will be driven through the Old Mill District in the back of a pickup truck, allowing him to wave and interact with everyone while he picks up the letters, but in a way that respects the current health and safety guidelines.

The public is encouraged to come down and cheer on Santa as he collects his holiday letters. We do ask that spectators maintain proper distance between one another and Santa and his special helpers.

Santa’s mailboxes will be ready for your mail on Friday, November 27, the day after Thanksgiving. To view the mail collection times and more details, please visit our Holiday Happenings page.

Please note: No postage stamp is required. If the child would like to receive a letter back, be sure to include the return address on the envelope



Nov 27 North Pole Mailboxes

From Nov. 27 to Dec. 19, two special Christmas mailboxes will be in Bend’s Old Mill District for children to drop off their letters to Santa. All letters will get a response from the North Pole.

Nov 28 Downtown Bend Christmas Tree Lighting

This Central Oregon tradition is moving online for 2020. The Community Tree lighting will take place on Saturday, November 28, and will air live on KTVZ and be live-streamed on the Downtown Bend Facebook page. Go to for more info.

Dec 10 Menorah lighting for Chanukah

Celebrate Chanukah with the annual menorah lighting in the Old Mill District, held this year in the parking lot near the Hampton Inn on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020.
Presented by the Chabad of Central Oregon, this year’s ceremony will be similar to a drive-in movie, with families taking in the festivities from inside their vehicles. The ceremony is expected to start at 4:30 p.m. All faiths and denominations are welcome!

Tree of Joy

A partnership between the Salvation Army, the four Rotary Clubs of Bend and the Old Mill District, the Tree of Joy ensures that every child in Central Oregon experiences the joy of Christmas.

The Tree of Joy will be virtual this season. Generous Central Oregonians will be able to view desired or needed gifts, make those purchases, and drop those items off at the Salvation Army’s offices at 541 NE Dekalb near Bend High School.

Nearly 1,000 individuals a year benefit from the kindness and generosity of the Tree of Joy program, which dates back to 1984.

Nov 25 – Jan 3 Holiday Light Show in Sunriver

Enjoy your favorite holiday songs as thousands of lights dance to the beat. Shows will be 15 to 20 minutes long and will rotate through a selection of songs with a mix of kids and adult favorites. At the Sunriver Lodge, November 25, 2020 – January 3, 2021.




Offering a unique perspective of the Old Mill District was a key part to artist Kathy Deggendorfer creating her 2020 holiday artwork.

“I’ve collected all of the annual ornaments from the Old Mill District, and when I was asked to create the art for this year I decided to include the view looking East … the river, Pilot Butte and all the great shops needed some recognition,” says Deggendorfer, who moved to Bend in 1973 when the Brooks Scanlon Mill (where the Old Mill District is now located) was a bustling industrial area and the economic center of the community.

Each year, a different local artist is selected to create exclusive holiday artwork for the District. Deggendorfer, the 2020 artist, lives on a ranch just outside of Sisters, Oregon. Inspired by the color and texture of her surroundings, her vibrant and colorful watercolor paintings are whimsical representations of life. Her work is represented on fabrics, tiles, cards, glass cutting boards, wallets and mugs.

Her 2020 holiday artwork offers a unique perspective of the District – facing east. The iconic Pilot Butte, smokestacks and “No Caulks Allowed” sculpture are included for the first time.

She included the Deschutes River and geese to represent dedication to wildlife and the vibrancy of the riparian zone.
“The shops and restaurants of the Old Mill District are covered in snow to depict the transformation of the land from industrial to a shared space for people to enjoy the beauty of the river setting,” says Deggendorfer.

The Old Mill District is proud to partner with Deggendorfer. You’ll find her art not only on the cover of this guide, but also on ornaments, banners, kiosk posters, billboards and in printed pieces throughout Central Oregon.

Deggendorfer has a dynamic and successful history. In 2008, she was selected to create the Oregon State Ornament for the White House Christmas Tree and in 2009 was a featured artist on Oregon Art Beat. Kathy’s show titled “Painting Oregon’s Harvest”, curated by the High Desert Museum, has been traveling for the past 5 years throughout Oregon’s regional museums. View more of her artwork.

Deggendorfer is the fourth artist featured in the Old Mill District’s Winter Art Series. Twins Lisa and Lori Lubbesmeyer were the inagural participants in the series in 2017, with Susan Luckey Hidgon of Tumalo Art Co. designing the campaign in 2018. And multi-media artist Shelly Walters provided the backdrop for the series in 2019.




Indoor plants are experiencing a strong comeback – a quick glimpse at Pinterest, Instagram, or many local living rooms show colorful leaves and fascinating textures.
A touch of luscious green can truly brighten an indoor space during a cold, Central Oregon winter. They also help cleanse the air and have an overall calming effect on a space.

Inventory and plant care are important aspects in making plant choices. John Kish, co-owner of the plant shop Somewhere That’s Green, notices several changes as fall becomes winter. He notes that inventory options are typically driven by the actual nurseries, as certain plants are only released during the holidays, such as Christmas Cactus and Norfolk Pines. Other cactus varieties can be more difficult to find, but other plants are still plentiful, such as Calatheas, Orchids, and beautifully mounted epiphytes of all varieties

Kish talks with many people looking to give plants as unique items for Hanukah, Christmas, or as host/hostess gifts. Is your friend new to plant parenthood? He recommends a small Sansevieria (aka Snake Plant). Cactus do well in Bend, says Kish, especially if the house tends to be dry. Is your friend a minimalist? Wall mounted plants are perfect for people who hate clutter and have good light.

The great thing about the gift of a plant is the chance to personalize it to match your friend’s personality, explains Kish. Find the perfect plant and choose a locally made pot or macramé. Cactus always look better with a small cowboy hat perched on top, and Kish sells both.

“Plants are a versatile gift that bring smiles for years to come,” says Kish. “They breathe life into our personal spaces”.

Experience the magic of plants yourself

Somewhere That’s Green winter workshops include wreath making, Plant Parenthood 101, Kokedama and Terrariums. They will live stream/pay-per-view many workshops and host private event workshops. Learn more.



Winterizing 270 acres is hard for most people to imagine, but for Millsite Landscape Services, it’s an annual event that is sandwiched between Halloween and Thanksgiving. Millsite provides landscape services for the Old Mill District and with a creative eye and well-planned approach, they keep the District beautiful every season.

By the numbers: Planning for winter on 270 acres

Nate O’Meara, Millsite’s Landscape Maintenance Manager and Designer/Estimator, and his team begin wrapping sparkling holiday lights around nearly 150 trees, and two towering Colorado Spruces, in late October in the District. The lights are officially flipped on the weekend that Daylight Savings Time ends.
Nearly 13,000 flower bulbs are planted around to ensure a colorful and vibrant spring.

Irrigation is blown out around the same time. With over 800 irrigation zones and 10,000+ sprinkler heads, this crucial task takes weeks to complete. This must be done before the ground freezes, or pipes could burst, says O’Meara. Their team hopes for snow to help water the plants through the winter and to slow winter desiccation.

Beautification in the cold months

Twinkling lights are just the first step of beautifying the District. O’Meara’s team works hard switching out the flowerpots for the snowy season. The winter displays include the cold hardy pansy, and evergreen perennials kinnickinnick, blue star juniper, dwarf spruce, heather, and moonshadow. Center pieces to provide additional color and texture are red twig dogwoods and hollies.

O’Meara recommends backyard gardeners experiment with these same plants in their own containers or gardens. Winter bough cuttings of red twig dogwoods, ponderosa pine boughs with pinecones, Colorado blue spruce cuttings, branches of junipers with blue berries, and sprigs of manzanita also make beautiful decorations and can be easily sourced throughout Central Oregon.

“Winter offers a nice blank canvas for landscaping,” says O’Meara. “It’s an ideal time to include bright colors in your yard or planters.”



The brisk air brushes past your cheeks, your breath exhales like a perfect cloud puff, and the sleek, chilled ice of the Pavilion’s NHL-sized ice rink beckons you – Winter has come.

Every autumn, Bend Park and Recreation District (BPRD) transforms The Pavilion into an ice rink full of activities and excitement. The ice season offers winter programming from early November through April.

Skating through COVID

Central Oregonians have multiple options for their in-town winter ice sports. Skating, hockey and curling are available, as are rental skates and the outdoor firepits. Open skate, family skate, parent-tot skate, holiday break programming and certain leagues and lessons continue to be offered this season.

The biggest changes guests will notice this winter are increased cleaning, capacity and spectating limits, face covering requirements and the viewing room and café are not going to be open. Due to capacity limits, reservations are strongly encouraged and only one adult spectator is allowed per participant. Spectating is outdoors, so be sure to dress for the weather.

Make an afternoon of it

With limited spectating available at the Pavilion, why not drop off the kids to skate and then take the easy, five-minute walk to the Old Mill District. Relax with a massage, grab a delicious coffee, fit in some shopping or simply enjoy the river trail while others are skating. Or after the skating session, bring the entire crew down to warm up with snacks, cocoa and exploring.

“Nothing feels like ‘winter’ than skating some laps in the fresh, cool air and seeing the ice sparkle beneath you,” says Colleen McNally, Marketing Manager with BPRD. “Providing a fun and active place for the community to recreate this winter is so important.”

To learn more or to register, visit the website.

Open skate available daily, November through early April. Reservations strongly encouraged online.

For everyone’s health and safety:

  • Capacity and spectating are limited.
  • Face coverings and proper
  • distancing required.
  • One adult spectator (outdoors) per participant.
  • The viewing room and cafe are closed.
  • Skates and facility regularly sanitized.

Public Ice Skating Sessions:
Open Skate for all ages and abilities

  • Family Skate, $6/person, including ice skate rental. Open skate for families.
  • Parent-Tot Skate, $6/person, inlcuding skate rental. Open skate for toddlers and preschool-age children.
  • Cheap Skates, $6/person on special Tuesday evenings



Muse UnConference, slated for March 4-7, 2021, is set to once again bring together local change-makers with internationally recognized artists and activists. This year’s virtual gathering is being reimagined to be more interactive and participant-driven than eve before.

All are welcome to join in for four days of art, film, music, workshops, panel discussions, and keynote talks designed to breakdown barriers between what is and what could be.

Bend-based World Muse, which puts on the Muse UnConference, is a non-profit social change organization inspired by womxn and youth. They believe in the enormous potential of individuals to create positive change not only in their own lives, but in their communities and across the globe. World Muse offers events and programming to support womxn and youth as catalysts for change and amplify their voices within our local community and beyond.

The Muse UnConference is just one way World Muse looks to inspire change. The organization hosts Muse Clubs in local schools and a Muse Youth Summit. World Muse has also created Muse Makers, a membership-funded program that supports grassroots social change initiatives in Central Oregon.

For more information go to World Muse and the Muse UnConference.



Bend Marathon, April 18, 2021:
After hosting a virtual race in 2020, the Bend Marathon is planning on an in-person event in 2021. They’ll be adhering strictly to local health and safety protocols – April’s race may utilize wave starts and have a limited entry – but look for one of the state’s most scenic and fun marathon to return in 2021. Check out our article on running, including winter running tips.

Oregon WinterFest, canceled for 2021:
Central Oregon’s largest outdoor winter bash is taking a year off and prepping for a hopeful return in 2022.

Bend Brewfest 2021:
Bend Brewfest, one of the largest beer festivals in Oregon, returns in 2021 but dates are still being determined.



The 2021 concert season can’t get here soon enough. After a year with no shows, the Les Schwab Amphitheater is ready to rock and roll like never before in 2021. Five concerts have already been booked and the Amphitheater is looking to host a great lineup of shows this upcoming summer.

Here’s the current list of concerts for 2021:

Rebelution with Steel Pulse, The Green,
Keznamdi, and DJ Mackle

Thursday, August 12, 2021 | General Admission $37.50 + service fees.

Seventeen years into an effervescent career, California reggae band and touring juggernaut Rebelution remains abundantly creative. Its members are as focused and committed as they are easygoing and laid-back. “Free Rein”, the band’s sixth studio album, while still rooted in the Jamaican inspiration that Rebelution’s songs and sounds have always paid homage to, takes experimental leaps and new adventures too, welcoming old fans and new audiences alike. Ever expanding, the Rebelution phenomenon continues to spread good vibes on tour, and in the studio.

Joining Rebelution in Bend in 2021 are U.K. reggae legends Steel Pulse, who have been pioneers in the genre for more than four decades. The Green, Keznamdi and DJ Mackle round out this stellar August reggae lineup.

Primus – A Tribute To Kings + special guest Battles

Wednesday, August 18, 2021 | General Admission $50.50 in advance + service fees/ $56 day of the show + service fees.

Primus will pay homage to prog-rock legends Rush next summer with A Tribute to Kings, a cross-country tour that’s set to feature the Bay Area trio playing Rush’s classic 1977 album, “A Farewell to Kings,” in its entirety, in addition to their own music.

“A little over one year ago, Ler Lalonde and I started kicking the idea around of Primus performing a series of shows featuring an iconic Rush album from our youth,” Primus bandleader Les Claypool said last summer. “Being that ‘A Farewell to Kings’ was the first Rush record I ever heard, and that it contains my all-time favorite Rush tune, ‘Cygnus X1,”’ the choice narrowed quickly.”

“The ‘Tribute to Kings’ tour will be just as it is implied,” Claypool added, “A respectful and loving tribute to three spectacular musicians, songwriters, legends and friends.”

The experimental rock group Battles is set to open the show.

Dave Matthews Band

Wednesday, September 8, 2021 | General admission $115 + service fees.

Dave Matthews Band heads to Bend next September – the Les Schwab Amphitheater is home to the band’s only Oregon show in 2021 – as part of its 35-date summer tour. The jam band favorites released their latest studio album in 2018, “Come Tomorrow,” their seventh album to debut No. 1 on Billboard’s album chart, an industry record.

The socially conscious rockers are partnering with The Dreaming Tree Wines and DocuSign this tour in an effort to plant one million trees. Concertgoers can contribute an optional donation of $2 per ticket to go toward The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees campaign, whose goal is to plant a billion trees around the world by 2025. Trees will be planted across the globe in the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, China, and Africa.

Luke Bryan with Morgan Wallen and Runaway June

Thursday, September 30, 2021 + Friday, October 1, 2021 | General admission $99.75 + service fees.

Country superstar Luke Bryan is headed to Bend for two nights as part of his Proud to Be Right Here 2021 Tour. As a four-time Entertainer of the Year for the Country Music Association (twice) and the Academy of Country Music (twice), Bryan has achieved a rare place in the business, garnering the admiration of both his peers and the public. The industry voters for the Nashville-based CMA recognized him as one of the music industry’s few talents capable of filling a stadium on a regular basis. The fans, who pick the California-based ACM’s Entertainer, view him as a talented, good-natured guy who – when they see him at those stadium dates – is still one of them. Bryan rolls into Bend having recently released his seventh studio album, “Born Here, Live Here, Die Here,” in 2020.



New experiences lead to a rich life. If you’re looking for a unique new year resolution, one that can extend throughout the year, commit to trying something new every month. Below are five experiences to kickstart your imagination. Grab 2021 by the horns, try all the new things and watch your world expand (COVID-safe, of course).

1. Buying something unfamiliar every week at the downtown Bend Farmer’s Market.
Bursting with local flavors and fascinating finds, the market is open weekly in the summer in downtown Bend. See something you’ve never tried? Just buy it. Ask how to prepare it. Maybe you’ll love it; maybe you won’t. But with novel, Oregon-grown products like kohlrabi, purple tomatoes, goat jerky and fresh lobster mushrooms, make every week a new adventure on your dinner plate.

Learn more at

2. Oysters on the half shell.
One of the ocean’s perfect little treats, oysters on the half shell (raw) are a salty, briny, creamy-yet-firm party for your senses. Smaller oysters tend to be sweeter and milder and are a great way to start. Your first time, you may want to slurp them down instead of chewing, so a smaller size is better. As you become accustomed to the taste and texture, a chew or two will release more of the flavor.

Anthony’s in the Old Mill District features a variety of oysters from the Washington coast throughout the winter months.

If you’re new to the oyster game, your server can help you with oyster choice and etiquette. They can help with dish and wine pairing, too. Learn more.

3. Men: try a pedicure.
Nope, nail polish is not required. But a gentle scrub, rub, nail trim and general clean-up for your feet is an experience you will never forget.
Drake Evinger, owner of Bend’s Avalon Spa & Salon, says the number of men opting for foot care is growing. Construction workers, runner and skiers, and anyone with tired feet will benefit from the 30-minute Express Avalon Pedicure. Evinger says it is crafter specifically for men and they use the time typically spent polishing focusing on massage or any other foot care they are in need of.

“Our feet take the brunt of so much,” says Evinger. “They deserve more care than they usually get.”

Learn more at

4. Try outdoor yoga.
If you’ve enjoyed an early morning walk along the river trail through the Old Mill District, you’ve likely seen outdoor yoga classes taking place in the grass. Let your curiosity get the best of you!

Try yoga in the fresh air as the river rushes by and the birds chirp. Increase your fitness and flexibility. Bend’s Freespirit Yoga Fitness Play studio holds these outdoor classes in warmer months.

Learn more at

5. A new way to get fit.
Mix up your fitness in 2021. You’ve likely heard rave reviews about Orangetheory Fitness. It involves a mix of treadmill running, row machines, floor weights and TRX. The classes range from 60-90 minutes, they are different every day and a coach will inspire and teach you every step of the way. The workouts follow COVID safety guidelines and are available seven days a week. Try it and watch your strength, endurance and power increase.

Learn more at



Hot springs are a fun adventure any time of year, but winter is an especially great time to immerse yourself in their natural warmth and gorgeous settings.

Oregon is bursting with hot springs that will warm your body and soul. Below are a handful of locations near Central Oregon. Many more can be found around the state; if you’re up for a fun drive and a big adventure, winter is a great time to begin! Please check locations for hours, cost, parking and additional details.

Crane Hot Springs (formerly Crystal Crane Hot Springs)

Located south of Burns, Oregon, about a 2-hour drive from Bend. The large lake is fed by hot springs and private bathhouses. This gorgeous setting is adjacent to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Year-round overnight lodging is available on-site, including campsites. There’s even a teepee! All-ages friendly.

Paulina Lake Hot Springs

East of Lapine, Oregon, about a 30-minute drive from Bend. While crisp, clear Paulina Lake is fed by snowmelt, the hot springs are powered by geothermal heat. They are located on the north end of the lake. It’s a 1.5 mile hike from the parking lot, or bring your own boat to cross the lake and get there faster. These hot springs offer a customizable experience as you can dig your own on the shore of the lake. Or, simply enjoy one that’s simply not being used. Adjust the temperature by altering the amount of cold lake water in your pool, and be prepared to hike through snow during the winter months. Views are of Paulina Peak and the massive Obsidian flow. Seasonal camping on the south side of the lake is available. All-ages friendly.

Terwilliger Hot Springs(aka Cougar Hot Springs)

Located between Bend and Eugene, Oregon, about a 2-hour drive from Bend. Adjacent to the Cougar Reservoir, this forested gem offers a variety of pools that flow into one another. The pools vary in size and depth and require a short hike from the parking area. Soak and relax surrounded by massive trees and the verdant beauty of the Willamette National Forest. This is a clothing-optional hot springs.



The past year has been particularly rough on kids from Oregon’s most vulnerable communities. They’ve suffered their parents’ loss of income, seen an increase in substance abuse, witnessed domestic violence, and watched the toll of this pandemic on their family’s mental health.

With that in mind, MountainStar Family Relief Nursery continues to shift services to meet each families’ unique needs. We know kids are struggling and we are committed to their safety and healthy development. With your continued support – whether a direct donation or a box of diapers – you provide hope at a critical time for MountainStar families.

Sam’s Story

Meet “Samantha” (Sam), a bright-eyed red-headed little girl radiating joy and love. Sam had a rough start, having witnessed her mother be repeatedly abused by her father. When she joined MountainStar’s therapeutic classes as a one-year-old, her father had just been sent to jail and Sam displayed high levels of anxiety.

Sam’s first year at MountainStar was difficult. She did not trust her teachers and mostly kept to herself. Loud noises or quick movements had her shaking and crying. Her teachers responded with patience and love, celebrating each moment Sam joined an activity or participated in group play. Slowly, Sam started to build healthy relationships and showed promising growth in her social and emotional development.

This year brought new challenges for Sam and her mom. When MountainStar’s classroom closed, Sam struggled with the isolation. Mom lost her job in April. And perhaps most upsetting was Sam’s father being released from jail and requesting rights to supervised visits. Mom needed to file for custody but could not afford the application fee. Luckily, their MountainStar Fairy God Parent stepped in to cover legal costs and is committed to helping them through the entire process.

MountainStar provided critical relief through food boxes and other basic needs supplies. By September, Sam was back in the classroom once a week and the familiar environment brought relief for both Sam and her mom. Sam’s teachers taught her breathing and tapping exercises to help with her anxiety and surrounded Sam with attentive and loving support. Staff also recognized mom’s fears and increased transportation services to alleviate stress and help keep them safe.

Join us – make a gift to help us support families like Sam’s today! This year has been so hard, especially for children. Help us to make sure they know they are not alone. Your support at any level is critically important to help meet the needs of vulnerable babies and toddlers in our community.

Support Mountainstar this Holiday Season!

It’s easy! When you holiday shop at the Old Mill District this year, have your gifts wrapped at the Ticket Mill. All proceeds from the gift wrapping go to MountainStar and the families they support!