Top 10 things to do at the 50th Dayton Holiday Festival

Mike Colvin DDP Press Releases

The 50th year of the Dayton Holiday Festival kicks off on November 25 with the Grande Illumination and Dayton Children’s Parade

November 17, 2022 (DAYTON, Ohio) – The golden anniversary of the Dayton Holiday Festival, presented by AES Ohio, officially begins in Courthouse Square and surrounding areas in just over one week! The month-long Dayton Holiday Festival will officially get underway from 4 to 9 p.m. on Friday, November 25, with the Grande Illumination and Dayton Children’s Parade Spectacular. Free, family-friendly events will then continue through the month of December. This year’s event includes the return of several family favorite activities as well as some special surprises to celebrate 50 wonderful years of bringing holiday magic downtown.

“Mrs. Virginia Kettering started the Dayton Holiday Festival 50 years ago to bring people together and make sure everyone could celebrate as a community,” said Sandra K. Gudorf, President of the Downtown Dayton Partnership. “The festival has only continued to build on her original mission. We’re honored to work with the Kettering family to continue her tradition and mark such an important milestone for this incredible and meaningful event.”

The Dayton Holiday Festival is a season-long celebration, but here are the DDP’s picks for the top 10 ways to create memories during the kickoff event on Friday, November 25:

10. Enjoy live entertainment on the Main Stage Local musicians and groups take the stage in Courthouse Square, sponsored by Dinsmore & Shohl LLP! Entertainment begins at 4 p.m. and continues right up to the Grande Illumination. Scheduled performers include:

4:00-4:25 p.m. – Trulee Dominique 4:30-4:55 p.m. – Stivers Concert Choir 5:05-5:30 p.m. – Berachah Valley 5:40-6:05 p.m. – Tori Adams 6:15-6:40 p.m. – Gwen Brown 6:50-7:15 p.m. – Todd the Fox 7:25-7:50 p.m. – Dayton Celebration Chorus

9. See the iconic Rike’s holiday windows in the Schuster Center Experience a reimagining of the Rike’s department store holiday window displays that once stood at this busy downtown corner!

8. Snap a pic with The Real Elf, check out a model train, and get crafty in the Holiday Village Bring home a piece of the Dayton Holiday Festival magic! Create an arts-and-crafts project and grab a photo to create lasting memories of your evening. While you’re there, don’t miss Mrs. Virginia Kettering’s holiday train display!

7. See masterfully built cookie creations in the Gingerbread Homes for the Holidays Contest Who will build the best house on the block? Local bakers and teams will show off tasty masterpieces inside the Old Courthouse, where you can vote for your favorite!

6. Take a scenic ride through downtown on a horse-drawn wagon See all the sights around the festival as you go dashing through downtown on this festive trip. $1 donation suggested per rider.

5. Experience 50 years of memories with a stroll down Memory Lane on Main Take yourself back in time as you relive the iconic moments from this cherished event! Memory Lane on Main, sponsored by Johnson Electric, transforms business storefronts into windows to the past with dozens of photos and other memories from 1972 to the present.

4. Dance along with the Downtown Jingle Lights See synchronized lights groove to the best tunes of the holidays! The Downtown Jingle Lights, sponsored by iHeartRADIO, will be dancing all season long starting on November 25. Tune your radio to 105.3FM to enjoy this drive-thru or walk-thru light show along Main Street and E. Monument Avenue.

3. Enjoy free rides on the merry-go-round at the Street Fair on Third and meet some live reindeer! A merry-go-round, a giant slide, and more! The Street Fair on Third, sponsored by altafiber, turns this downtown street into carnival with free rides for kids of all ages. Nearby on Courthouse Square, two of Santa’s reindeer will be available for photos in the big man’s sleigh.

2. Line the streets for the Dayton Children’s Parade Spectacular in Lights More than 100,000 lights will travel through downtown on floats, horses, bands, entertainers and more during the parade! Grab the magic glasses, sponsored by CareSource, to put some extra twinkle in the big event! The route: West Second Street to Main Street, south on Main Street to Fourth Street, and then west on Fourth Street.

1. Watch us flip the switch on 50,000 gold lights during the Grande Illumination It’s the main event of the evening! See the Dayton Holiday Festival tree come to life in gold lights and accents at the traditional tree lighting to start the holiday season downtown and celebrate 50 years of the Dayton Holiday Festival.

Those unable to attend this year’s kickoff event can still enjoy the festivities by tuning into WHIO-TV at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 25, to watch the Grande Illumination TV special and tree lighting live on television.

The Grande Illumination and Dayton Children’s Parade are just the beginning of a month-long holiday celebration downtown. The Dayton Holiday Festival continues through the month of December with Holiday Family Fun Days and a calendar full of family-friendly events including the Family Movie Series at The Neon, Virginia Kettering’s Holiday Train Display at Stratacache Tower, the Rike’s animated window in the Schuster Center Wintergarden, Memory Lane on Main visible in storefront windows along Main Street, the Downtown Jingle Lights interactive light display, and more. A complete list of festival events isavailable online, as well as a calendar of other downtown holiday events.

The Dayton Holiday Festival is presented by AES Ohio, and is a program of the Downtown Dayton Partnership, the City of Dayton, and Montgomery County with funding from the Mrs. Virginia W. Kettering Dayton Holiday Festival Fund. Additional sponsorship support comes from CareSource, Dayton Live, White-Allen Chevrolet, altafiber, Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, Johnson Electric, NECA/IBEW Electrical Professionals, Premier Health, and Wright-Patt Credit Union. Media sponsors include, iHeartRADIO, and WHIO-TV.

The DDP’s website has a complete list of downtown’s events, dining guides, parking maps and more at Follow the DDP on Facebook to keep up with downtown events and news.


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