Downtown Dayton will celebrate 45 years of the holiday season during the month-long Dayton Holiday Festival, presented by DP&L, which kicks off with the Grande Illumination and Dayton Children’s Parade Spectacular in Lights from 4 to 9 pm Friday, Nov. 24. Courthouse Square will be the center of the evening full of family entertainment.
Activities planned for the day include the Grande Illumination tree-lighting ceremony. Use the magic glasses, sponsored by CareSource, to reveal the special pattern. Other activities for the day of family fun include live musical entertainment on the main stage; carnival rides and games, holiday crafts and games, the Junior League of Dayton’s Holiday Adventure, horse-drawn wagon rides; and a gingerbread house display. The suggested cost for wagon rides is $1 per person, but all other activities are free.
Returning this year is the fan-favorite photo station featuring live reindeer! The exhibit includes a sleigh and reindeer that create the perfect backdrop for holiday cards or photos. There’s also a petting area for interactive fun. The display is a gift to the community from presenting sponsor DP&L.
A tree-lighting ceremony will take place at 7:45 pm on Courthouse Square, followed immediately by the Dayton Children’s Parade Spectacular in Lights. Thousands of lights will illuminate the 45-minute parade, featuring a variety of festive floats, entertainers, animals and several surprises.
“The Grande Illumination and Dayton Children’s Parade Spectacular in Lights is a great night for the entire family to come downtown,” said Sandra Gudorf, president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership. “It is a magical night guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit.”
The Dayton Holiday Festival continues throughout the month of December with such activities as the Family Movie Series at The Neon, the Tike’s Shoppe, Virginia Kettering’s Holiday Train Display, animated window displays and entertainment in the Schuster Center Wintergarden, and more.
New this year is a fun method of transportation to downtown destinations. The popular bicycle pub crawl companies are rolling out from 6-8 pm Fridays and Saturdays in December as the Sugarplum Shuttle, presented by PNC Bank. Guests – including kids – can hop on the bikes and ride to designated stops in the Oregon District, RiverScape MetroPark, and the Schuster Center. Enjoy complimentary hot chocolate on this non-alcoholic shuttle service as riders pedal near downtown’s major holiday attractions.
Grande Illumination & Dayton Children’s
Parade Spectacular in Lights Schedule
- Grande Illumination― The tree-lighting ceremony will take place at 7:45 p.m. on Courthouse Square. Media sponsor: BIG 106.5 FM
- Dayton Children’s Parade Spectacular in Lights ― More than 100,000 lights will illuminate the floats and other units in the parade, which starts immediately following the Grande Illumination. The route: West Second Street to Main Street, south on Main Street to Fourth Street, and then west on Fourth Street.
- Live reindeer photo station — Take a family photo with a sleigh and live reindeer. It’s unique and fun way to capture your memories of the Grande Illumination and Parade!
- Main Stage Entertainment ― Enjoy live entertainment on the Courthouse Square stage. Performances begin around 4 p.m. The schedule is:
- 4:00-4:20 pm – Miami Valley Music Men
- 4:40-5:00 pm – Deron Bell Band
- 5:10-5:30 pm – Berachah Valley
- 5:40-6:05 pm – Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus
- 6:20-6:55 pm – Alexis Gomez Trio
- 7:10-7:45 pm – Dayton Celebration Chorus
- Gingerbread Homes for the Holidays Contest― Contest entries will be on display in the Old Courthouse. The top amateur and professional houses each will receive $500! Winners will be announced on the Main Stage before the Grande Illumination.
- The Holiday Village -Located in the lobby of the Kettering Tower from 4-9 pm, this is a favorite stop for children, featuring free crafts and games for kids and Mrs. Virginia Kettering’s train on display. Kids also can make holiday arts and crafts and play games. The Holiday Village Stage schedule includes live performances.
- Street Fair on Third ― At this holiday street fair, free rides will be set up on Third Street between Main and Ludlow streets.
- Horse-Drawn Wagon Rides ― From 4 to 7:30 p.m., wagons will pick up passengers at the corner of Second and Main streets for a ride through downtown. Rides are $1 per person. Lines can be long, so come early.
- The Tike’s Shoppe― For decades, children in Dayton have been able to shop for their loved ones in a store that’s just their size. The shop will be located in the Schuster Center Wintergarden near the entrance at Ludlow and Second streets, and will officially open the day of the Grande Illumination. The Tike’s Shoppe will be open on selected dates through Dec. 23. For specific times, call (937) 301-8349.
- Junior League of Dayton’s Holiday Adventure – Kids will go on an adventure around the festival footprint. Children who visit all the stops will receive a free book.
- Magic Glasses― Look for volunteers passing out these special glasses on Courthouse Square prior to the tree lighting.