The Festival of Lights


This Friday, the 20th annual Festival of Lights will be hosted in Downtown Ashland to kick off the holiday season. The list of activities includes performances on the plaza, a holiday parade, and the lighting of over a million Christmas lights downtown.

Families from across the Rogue Valley will line the sidewalks of downtown, eager to see the parade as couples of all ages stroll from shop to shop, gazing at the elegant window displays.

The start of the parade is immediately known as a chorus of bagpipes begins to march down the street. Floats include actors from the Cabaret and Camelot theatres dancing in costume before the crowd, dog walkers strolling down the street with their canine friends who are hoping to be adopted, and dozens of little fairies adorned in white, carrying beautiful homemade paper mache lanterns. Bringing up the rear of the parade is Mr. and Mrs. Claus traveling comfortably in a cherry red sleigh led by twelve jubilant reindeer.

After Santa passes by, the crowd shuffles into the street behind him, following the parade down to the plaza where the festivities continue. On a temporary stage, hula dancers sway and choirs sing old Christmas carols to entertain the crowd as Santa prepares his appearance.

By this time the sun has long gone down and only the street lights and Christmas lights from the luminescent buildings spread light upon the crowd.  With a great roar from the crowd, Santa steps out onto the balcony of Alex’s Restaurant. With a hearty chuckle he greets the crowd and shares a few customary holiday jokes to excite his audience just a little more.

Then the lights go out, building by building. Complete blackness encases the crowd. For a few seconds, there is complete silence as the darkness is absorbed. Then the countdown begins: “Ten, nine, eight” the entire crowd joins in. “Seven, six, five” The excitement reaches its climax. “Four, three, two, one.”

Over one million Christmas lights are turned on instantaneously. The plaza is overcome by beauty  as the massive maple trees and classical buildings that define ashland are illuminated. Many hugs and kisses are shared in the moment of complete joy and celebration.

Ashland’s Festival of  Lights is a great opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends, or maybe even a significant other. The night is one of Ashland’s defining festivals along with the Fourth of July and Halloween Parades. Don’t miss it this Friday, the 23.

For more information on events, visit the Ashland Chamber of Commerce website or refer to the schedule of events below:

Event Schedule:

                                                    1pm – 5pm       Plaza Stage Entertainment in downtown Ashland

                                                     5pm                   Santa’s Parade begins at the Library and proceeds

                                                                               to the Plaza


5:45 (following Parade) Grand Illumination – Santa counts down with the

                                                                               audience and lights over one million lights!

6:15 – 8pm       Santa’s Workshop at the Black Swan Theatre –

                                                                               kids can visit Santa & Mrs. Claus