Most students can agree that finals season is stressful, but as December starts and the first snow falls, the holiday season kicking into high gear can bring additional stress of its own. Luckily, there are plenty of seasonal events and winter activities available around Salem this month if you need a break from studying or want to start gearing up for the holiday season.
If you’re still looking for the perfect gift for everyone on your list, there are several holiday markets open around Salem that can help you out. The Handmade Market organized by the Salem Etsy Team will be taking place on the Oregon State Fairgrounds on Saturday, Dec. 7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The next weekend, from Dec. 13-15, the Salem Holiday Market will also be open on the fairgrounds. This event also includes a gingerbread contest, a train display and other holiday shows. Both markets will feature local vendors selling handmade gifts.
Deepwood Estate and the Bush House Museum, two historic houses located on Mission St. just a few blocks from campus, are also hosting holiday markets. On the weekend of Dec. 7-8, Deepwood’s greenhouse will house a gift market, with proceeds benefiting the Deepwood museum and gardens, according to their website. You can also take a five minute walk across the park to the Bush Barn Art Center, which is in the middle of its Holiday Showcase featuring local artists. If you’re more interested in history than handicrafts, both museums will be open free of charge on Sunday, Dec. 8. from 1-4 p.m.
If you’d like to give back on a larger scale this season, stop by the carousel at Riverfront Park during December. The Salem landmark has put up a giving tree to support the Center of Hope and Safety with gift tags detailing donations that the center needs for the winter. To help, just take a tag and get something for a woman or family in need. There are also free carousel rides on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day for anyone who brings a canned food donation. All donations go to the Marion-Polk Food Share.
While you’re in Riverfront Park, you might find yourself looking around for the pop-up ice skating rink that has been set up there for the past two winters, but unfortunately, it won’t be returning this year, according to the Statesman Journal. However, you still won’t have to venture too far to get your skating fix: there will be an ice rink open at the Oregon Gardens in Silverton through Jan. 5. The rink is part of the garden’s Christmas in the Garden show, but is also open separately from 1:30-4 p.m. for $15.
Christmas in the Garden includes “paths and trails leading you through a million light display winding through the forest, dotted with merchants, food booths, fire pits and games,” says its website. Ice skating and tubing is open from 5-9 p.m. for an extra $15. Admission to the entire event starts at $8. Check their calendar for more details at christmasinthegarden.com/events.
For those into more rugged winter sports, Mt. Hood Meadows is open all winter for skiing and snowshoeing. Mt. Hood has downhill slopes for everyone, from beginners to experts — or, if you’d like to slow it down a little and just take a stroll through the snowy forest, head down the road to the Nordic Center for some cross-country skiing. Buses and shuttles run from Portland to the mountain on weekends and some weekdays throughout the season, but you can also drive yourself up. Make sure to monitor the road conditions and weather if you decide to take your own car, as the roads higher up on Mt. Hood can become difficult to navigate in snow and ice. Visit the Mt. Hood Meadows website for details on conditions, transportation and prices at skihood.com. Make sure to check with the Outdoor Program for ski trips from Willamette during the season as well.
The end of the semester can be intense, but there are plenty of ways to relax for a little while and enjoy the holiday season in Salem. The holidays are the perfect time to get off campus and see what the Willamette Valley has to offer. And even if you’re fully booked with studying there’s always time to kick off finals with Midnight Breakfast next Monday, Dec. 9 at 9:45 p.m. in Goudy Commons. Midnight Breakfast is a university tradition hosted by Willamette Events Board (WEB) at the end of each semester. The theme this fall is the classic cartoon Peanuts, so come on down for a night of breakfast food, Peanuts movies and fun activities before finals begin!