Christmas season kicks off tonight

The lighting of the city’s two Christmas trees at City Hall and The Commons tonight will signal the official start of Columbus’ holiday season and all of the festivities that come with Christmas.

Then on Dec. 5, the Columbus community will come together to ring in the Christmas season at the annual Festival of Lights downtown. From the opening of the holiday market to the final sparks of the Christmas Musical Fireworks, the weekend’s celebrations of the holiday season will provide entertainment for all ages.

Christmas village

The magic of Christmas will come to life for local residents when the Festival of Lights Christmas Village opens its doors at The Commons.With the gingerbread house big enough for every child to take turns decorating, the electric trains rolling down their tracks and the live holiday music that will lift spirits high, the village will make families feel as if they have stepped right into a Norman Rockwell Christmas painting.Kids will be drawn to the supernatural tricks of magician Travis Easterling, while adults can get ahead on their Christmas shopping at the holiday market, which will feature 20 local vendors.

Activities hosted by Foundation for Youth, kidscommons and the Parks and Recreation Department will also be located in the village limits for the whole family to enjoy.

The village will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 5 at The Commons, 300 Washington St. All village activities are free.

Festival of Lights Parade

As the streets of the Festival of Lights Christmas Village begin to empty, residents will relocate their holiday celebrations to the streets of downtown Columbus for the Festival of Lights Parade.Starting at Eighth and Jackson Streets at 6 p.m., 100 floats will make their way through the city, with distribution of candy and Christmas cheer to people they pass along the way.Classic cars, an antique fire truck and even horses will wind their way through downtown Columbus until they reach their final destination at Fifth and Brown Streets, just past Hotel Indigo.

While local children will be scrambling to catch all the candy their hearts desire, residents also will be encouraged to give back to those in need during the holiday season by bringing nonperishable items, which will be donated to Love Chapel.

The parade is expected to last about an hour and a half, but organizers say residents could easily spend double that time outside in the colder weather. With that in mind, organizers have these three tips for families planning to enjoy the holiday procession:

Dress for the weather

Don’t run into the street for candy — parade participants will come to you

Park your cars east of Franklin Street

Musical fireworks

The Festival of Light celebrations will go out with a bang — literally — as the evening wraps up with the 25th annual QMIX Christmas Musical Fireworks.After the parade comes to an end at Fifth and Brown Streets, residents are invited to the QMIX booth just a few blocks away at Second and Washington to enjoy the annual fireworks show.Classic holiday tunes will serve as the backdrop to the light display, which will be visible from City Hall and down Washington Street.

Santa will leave his sleigh after the fireworks show to pose for pictures with local children, and Easterling Entertainment also will be on hand to make balloon creatures. Free hot chocolate and cookies will be available for the whole family.

The show will start immediately following the end of the parade, which is scheduled for about 7:15 p.m.

Author photo
Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at ocovington@therepublic.com or 812-379-5712.