Dayton 'Grand Illumination' kicks off Christmas season

Dayton Holiday Festival to kick off with Grande Illumination and children’s parade

The 47th Dayton Holiday Festival will kicks off Nov. 29 with the Grande Illumination and Dayton Children’s Parade Spectacular in Lights. 

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Courthouse Square, at the corner of Third Street and Main Street, is the center of the evening full of family entertainment. 

WHAT TO EXPECT

Activities planned for the day include the Grande Illumination tree-lighting ceremony, live musical entertainment, carnival rides and games, holiday crafts, horse-drawn wagon rides, a gingerbread house display, a street fair and live reindeer. The suggested cost for wagon rides is $1 per person, but all other activities are free.

Courthouse Square was crowded for The 42nd Annual Grande Illumination and Dayton Children’s Parade on Friday night. TY GREENLEES / STAFF / FILE
Photo: Staff Writer

TREE LIGHTING AND CHILDREN’S PARADE: The tree-lighting ceremony will take place at 7:45 p.m. on Courthouse Square. Approximately 50,000 colored lights will brighten the three-story tall tree.

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The illumination will be followed immediately by the Dayton Children’s Parade Spectacular in Lights. Thousands of lights will illuminate the 45-minute parade that includes a variety of festive floats, entertainers, animals and several surprises. Grab a pair of free “magic glasses” on Courthouse Square before watching the tree lighting and parade to see the festival in a whole new light. 

“The Grande Illumination and Dayton Children’s Parade Spectacular in Lights is a great night for the family to come downtown,” said Sandy Gudorf, president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership.

This year’s grand marshals for the parade include first responders who played important roles during most of the challenging events the Dayton community faced this past year.

HELP LOCAL FAMILIES IN NEED: For the Love of Children will be collecting donations to assist families in our community in need, like those impacted by the Memorial Day tornadoes. Stop by the tent near the tree and stage on Courthouse Square to learn more and make a donation.

>>PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Real-life Grinches vandalize Dayton’s holiday floats

The Dayton Holiday Festival continues throughout the holiday season 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.

The Williams family played in the life-sized snow globe at The 42nd Annual Grande Illumination and Dayton Children’s Parade on Friday night. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Staff Writer

THE SCHEDULE

Main Stage Entertainment ― Enjoy live entertainment on the Courthouse Square stage. Performances begin around 4 p.m. The schedule is: 

  • 4-4:25 p.m. — Blue Heron Trio
  • 4:40-5:00 p.m. — Viva La Strings 
  • 5:10-5:30 p.m. — Berachah Valley 
  • 5:40-6:05 p.m. — Sinclair Chorus
  • 6:20-6:55 p.m. — Alexis Gomez
  • 7:10-7:45 p.m. — Dayton Celebration Chorus 
The holiday season is officially here in Dayton. The community celebrated the start of the holiday season with a beloved annual tradition the day after Thanksgiving on Nov. 23, 2018, downtown for the community tree lighting. The celebration also included rides, reindeer, Santa and a Children's Parade. TOM GILLIAM/CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Tom Gilliam

Live reindeer photo station — Meet two of Santa’s reindeer and take a family photo with a sleigh and live reindeer from 4-9 p.m. at Courthouse Square.

The holiday season is officially here in Dayton. The community celebrated the start of the holiday season with a beloved annual tradition the day after Thanksgiving on Nov. 23, 2018, downtown for the community tree lighting. The celebration also included rides, reindeer, Santa and a Children's Parade. TOM GILLIAM/CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Tom Gilliam

Gingerbread Homes for the Holidays Contest ― This year, visitors get the chance to view the best gingerbread houses on the block. From 4-8 p.m., delicious and dazzling entries from the past will be on display at the Old Court House.

The holiday season is officially here in Dayton. The community celebrated the start of the season with a beloved annual tradition that includes a downtown celebration the night after Thanksgiving to light the community tree. Festivities included rides, reindeer, Santa and a Children’s Parade. TOM GILLIAM/CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Tom Gilliam

Street Fair on Third ― At this holiday street fair, free rides will be set up on Third Street between Main and Ludlow streets from 4-9 p.m.

The holiday season is officially here in Dayton. Dayton welcomed the holiday season with a beloved annual tradition the night after Thanksgiving on Nov. 23, 2018, to light the downtown tree. The celebration also included reindeer, Santa and a children's parade. TOM GILLIAM/CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Tom Gilliam

Horse-Drawn Wagon Rides ― From 4 to 7:30 p.m., wagons will pick up passengers at the corner of Second and Main streets in front of the Premier Health Center for a ride through downtown. Rides are $1 per person. Lines can be long, so come early. It is possible the line will close earlier than the scheduled end time to ensure those in line get their rides.

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The holiday season is officially here in Dayton. Dayton welcomed the holiday season with a beloved annual tradition the night after Thanksgiving on Nov. 23, 2018, to light the downtown tree. The celebration also included reindeer, Santa and a children's parade. TOM GILLIAM/CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Tom Gilliam

The Holiday Village ― Located in the Stratacache Tower lobby at the southeast corner of Second and Main streets from 4-9 p.m., this is a favorite stop for children, featuring free crafts and games for kids. Kids also can make holiday arts and crafts and play games. 

The holiday season is officially here in Dayton. The community celebrated the start of the season with a beloved annual tradition that included a downtown celebration the night after Thanksgiving on Nov. 23, 2018, to light the community tree. Festivities included rides, reindeer, Santa and a Children’s Parade. TOM GILLIAM/CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Tom Gilliam

Junior League of Dayton’s Holiday Adventure ― Kids will go on an adventure around the festival and those who visit all stops will receive a free book. It will start at Courthouse Square.

The 46th annual Dayton Holiday Festival at Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton on Friday, Nov. 23, includes the Grande Illumination tree lighting, Dayton Children’s Parade Spectacular in Lights, Rike’s Holiday Window (pictured), live entertainment and more. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Contributing Writer

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 from 3-9 p.m. (with Santa there from 4-7:45 p.m.). The Tike’s Shoppe will be open on selected dates through Dec. 23. Santa will be present on all open days from 2-5 p.m. For specific times, call (937) 416-4504. 

Animated elves and furry woodland creatures are just a few of the festive scenes in the Rike’s department store holiday window displays in the Schuster Center’s Wintergarden Wonderland. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Staff Writer

Wintergarden Wonderland ― Come see one of the area’s longest-running holiday traditions — the old Rike’s department store holiday window displays. See animated elves, woodland animals, violinists and skaters right at the corner of Second and Main streets in the Schuster Center lobby. New this year, the redesigned windows have undergone a Merry Makeover. The space will be open November 29-December 31, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday from noon-4 p.m. For specific times, call (937) 228-7591.

>> Iconic Rike’s windows get a makeover

Downtown Dayton is celebrating 45 years of the holiday season during the month-long Dayton Holiday Festival, presented by DP&L, which kicked off with the Grande Illumination and Dayton Children’s Parade Spectacular in Lights from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2017. Courthouse Square was the center of the evening, full of family entertainment. TOM GILLIAM / STAFF PHOTO
Photo: Tom Gilliam

Grande Illumination ― The tree-lighting ceremony will take place at 7:45 p.m. on Courthouse Square. 

Santa Claus is the highlight of the Children's Parade Friday night, Nov. 25, 2016, during the 2016 Dayton Holiday Festival in Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton. JIM NOELKER / STAFF FILE PHOTO

Dayton Children’s Parade Spectacular in Lights ― More than 50,000 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.

STREET CLOSINGS

Closed from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m.: 

• Third Street between Main and Ludlow 

Closed from 3 p.m. until 10 p.m.: 

• Second Street between Perry and Vista View 

Closed from 5:30 p.m. until 10 p.m.: 

• Wilkinson Street between Second and Third 

• Ludlow Street between First and Second 

Closed from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m.: 

• Main Street between First and Fifth 

• Second Street between Jefferson and Perry 

• Third Street between Jefferson and Perry 

• Fourth Street between Jefferson and Ludlow 

• Wilkinson Street between Maple and Fourth 

• Southbound Red Cross Lane between First and Second 

• Southbound Stafford Street between First and Second

WANT TO GO? 

What: Dayton Holiday Festival

When: Kicks off with Grande Illumination and Dayton Children’s Parade at 7:45 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 29. The festival lasts through the end of December.
Where: Downtown Dayton, main events take place in and around Courthouse Square

Cost: Free, with a suggested price of $1 per person to participate in the horse-drawn wagon rides

More Info: Website

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