LOVELAND — The Festival of Lights, the official kickoff for the holiday season in Loveland, will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday along Fourth Street between Lincoln and Railroad avenues.
Sponsored by the Loveland Downtown District, the event will include lighting of a 25-foot Christmas tree in front of the Rialto Theater and marks the illumination of holiday lighting along several blocks of downtown through January.
“The Festival of Lights celebration is always a joyful and entertaining event in Downtown Loveland,” Sean Hawkins, the downtown district’s executive director, said in a prepared statement. “We are excited to be adding some new attractions this year and we welcome the community to come visit, enjoy all our downtown has to offer, and get into the holiday spirit.”
The Loveland Downtown District is a collaboration between three nonprofit organizations that support downtown: Loveland Downtown Partnership, Downtown Development Authority and Downtown Business Alliance.
The free community event will feature two stages with live music and entertainment from Lighthouse Dance, Loveland Classical School Choir, First United Presbyterian Church Choir, the Salvation Army Brass Band and a new feature called VIBE, featuring deejay Brian Howe and saxophonist Aeryk and presented by Howe Eventful. That performance will take place on the Aims Community College Art Stage.
Santa and Mrs. Claus will make a grand entrance on the main stage at 5 p.m., followed by the tree lighting with an Ebenezer Scrooge character at 7:30 p.m.
Many independently owned downtown retailers and boutiques will stay open late during the festival, and shoppers also can peruse a pop-up holiday art market by The Valentine Flea featuring local makers, artists, and handmade and vintage vendors. Food vendors, entertainment for all ages, kids’ art activities and free carriage rides will be included, along with live reindeer from the Jessen Reindeer Ranch. Meals on Wheels of Loveland and Berthoud will offer s’mores and hot chocolate.
Hawkins encouraged visitors to book reservations to drink and dine at downtown restaurants, bars and breweries before and after the event. Attendees also can pick up a Scavenger Hunt card at the Xfinity booth in the festival to navigate clues to nine downtown businesses. Hunt participants will gather letters to make up a festive word, and cards will be returned to the Xfinity booth for a grand prize drawing of a ninth-generation iPad as well as additional drawings for downtown gift baskets.
More information is available at downtownloveland.org/festivaloflights, or on the Loveland Downtown District’s Facebook or Instagram sites.
This year’s presenting sponsors are Xfinity, FNBO, Natural Grocers and iHeartMedia. Festival sponsors include Xcel Energy, Visit Loveland, Loveland Water and Power, Loveland Pulse, Ent Credit Union, Bank of Colorado, Elevations Credit Union and Loveland Barricade. The “holiday cheer sponsor” is Independent Financial, and the “entertainment sponsor” is Loveland Ready Mix Concrete. Aims Community College is the art and music sponsor, and Ascend Orthodontics will sponsor the carriage rides.