Yes, it’s on November 20. It’s also the coolest holiday festival around. So before you whine about celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving, consider that Winter Lights is a pretty politically-correct celebration. The name mentions no holidays, and although there is a holiday parade and other holiday (i.e. Christmas) activities, Winter Lights is really a downtown festival centered around the annual tree-lighting.
I’m sure that we all want a big, bright living tree lit up for Thanksgiving weekend to show off when our family and friends are in town. So come on out and party in downtown. Did I mention food trucks, local artists, and live music? That’s a night that anyone can enjoy.
New this year to Winter Lights are some special additions that will keep people downtown for a night of food, music, and shopping.
Santa on the Riverfront Playhouse stage is just one of the things that will bring the Winter Lights after-party to Water Street Mall in downtown Aurora. The pedestrian-friendly mall between Downer Place and Galena Boulevard will host Santa along with food trucks, activities at Culture Stock bookstore, and a Pop Up Shop at 13 S. Broadway.
The city will continue to host a shorter, one-hour festival including a parade, tree-lighting at the G.A.R. Museum, and a fireworks display along the Downer Place Bridge from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
“We wanted to add a more grassroots element to the traditional offerings of Winter Lights. Several businesses will be involved. River’s Edge Cafe is roasting marshmallows, and other businesses will be open late. The food trucks and pop up shop will add to the party,” said Marissa Amoni, event promoter for the Aurora Downtown organization.
The added activities are a chance to show off downtown businesses and nonprofit organizations, Amoni said. “The Riverfront Playhouse is a downtown staple that has brought community theater to the Fox Valley area for over 30 years. Some people still don’t know it’s there. Santa on the stage might do the trick of showing off our hidden gem,” she said.
A mix of food trucks including Gobble Doggs, Grumpy Gaucho, and others will line up on Water Street Mall from 5 to 9 p.m. The pop up shop features a variety of vendors offering gifts and goodies from 6 to 9 p.m.
Just like the pop up during First Fridays, local vendors will display goods for sale such as locally roasted coffee, soaps, baked goods, local art, and more. Organizer and city employee Justin Root expects over a dozen vendors.
“It’s a good mix of local art, artisans, and businesses. It’ll have a very Water Street Mall vibe in the spirit of Louche Puce Market and Alley Art Festival. We even borrowed a couple of their vendors like Kittens of Industry artist Jaime Torraco and the Picker Sisters,” Root said.
Music by John and Lori Klatt will add to the festive “street” party.
Winter Lights is on Water Street Mall from 5 to 9 p.m. Other activities on Downer Place from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Click here for the Facebook invite.
Cover photo by Sean King. Top photo by Marissa Amoni.