Ushering in the holiday season: Christmas events fill up the calendar from tonight through the weekend

The holiday season is unfolding just a bit differently this year with the absence of the annual Festival of Lights parade in Columbus, but there’s still plenty to do starting tonight and continuing through the weekend to start this year’s festivities.

Here’s a roundup of just some of the events for the first week of December.

On tap tonight: A Not so Silent Night

Described as the most festive night of the year in downtown Columbus, A Not So Silent Night is a night of holiday shopping, food and fun from 4 to 8 p.m. today. Participating downtown businesses will be open late for holiday shopping. At the Bartholomew County Historical Society, Santa and his reindeer will visit from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., with the museum is open until 7 p.m. to view the Christmas Trees Through Time/Christmas Memories Exhibit.

And there’s art and dance

The Columbus Area Arts Council will have an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. tonight at the 411 Gallery, 411 Sixth St., for 50/50, A Community Art Project. Now in its fifth year, 50/50 is an opportunity for community members to contribute to a group exhibition at 411 Gallery. Panels are provided by the Columbus Area Arts Council – for free – to 50 participants, who each create a unique work of art. The 50 artworks are sold for $50 each, benefiting future programming at 411 Gallery.

This event coincides with the 6th Street Arts Alley Event, held just outside the front doors of the gallery. The event features Dancers Studio, Inc. with pop-up performances of scenes from “The Nutcracker.”

— At 5:30 p.m. – “The Party” – Drosselmeyer comes to the Christmas party at Clara’s house and brings mechanical dolls and also a Nutcracker as a gift.

— 6:15 p.m. – “The Snow Forest” – The Nutcracker invites Clara to the Kingdom of Sweets and they journey through a snow forest.

— 7 p.m. – The Kingdom of Sweets – The Sugar Plum Fairy and Spanish Chocolates dance for Clara.

Purely Paula will be on site with a gingerbread cookie decoration station, mini cupcakes, and hot cider. Hog Molly and Savory Swine will be serving up their favorite beverages.

Christmas of Yesteryear returns

Hope brings back its annual Christmas of Yesteryear from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Hope Town Square.

Enjoy strolling carolers, a visit from Santa, cooking decorating, a book sale, and much more.

Fireworks, anyone?

Cera Sports Park and Campground’s QMIX Christmas Musical Fireworks are on tap at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the park. The fireworks are free, and visits to Santa will be available. The CERAbration of Lights will be at a discounted price of $20 per car that evening.

Santa at The Commons

Santa at The Commons, 300 Washington St., a free event, will be 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Nugent-Custer Performance Hall and Upper Lobby.

Columbus Parks and Recreation invites kids to meet with Santa and parents to take a photo of the Christmas wishes being recited. Heads up, the line to meet with Santa will be cut off at 12:15 p.m. to give Santa time to meet with everyone in line.

It’s a miracle on First Street

RE/MAX Real Estate Professionals Ground, 301 First St., presents “Miracle on First Street” from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday in downtown Columbus.

The event is a fun evening to support Toys for Tots. Bring a toy, see Santa, and enjoy live music, food trucks, beer garden, and fireworks beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Music will be provided by “Off the Hook.” Food trucks and beer provided by Party Chef, Big JTs Craft BBQ, El Taco Azteca, and Hog Molly.

‘A CSO Holiday’

The Columbus Symphony offers a musical gift to the community for the season with a holiday concert at The Commons, 300 Washington St., entitled “A CSO Holiday.” The concert, at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, will feature holiday favorites and the majesty of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5, “Reformation.” The concert is made possible in part by the Columbus Area Arts Council and Indiana Arts Commission, which receives support from the state of Indiana and National Endowment for the Arts.