Top 10 things to see and do at the Dayton Holiday Festival

Mike Colvin DDP Press Releases

The 51st annual Dayton Holiday Festival begins November 24 with the Grande Illumination and Dayton Children’s Parade Spectacular in Lights

November 22, 2023 (DAYTON, Ohio) – The Dayton Holiday Festival, presented by AES Ohio, officially begins in Courthouse Square and surrounding areas later this week! The month-long Dayton Holiday Festival will officially get underway at its new time of 3 to 8 p.m. on Friday, November 24, with the Grande Illumination and Dayton Children’s Parade Spectacular in Lights. Free, family-friendly events will then continue through the month of December.

“For more than 50 years, the Dayton Holiday Festival has brought our community together to celebrate the holiday season,” said Katie Meyer, President of the Downtown Dayton Partnership. “We’re honored to continue the work that Mrs. Virginia Kettering began in 1972 to provide this free celebration for all members of our local community regardless of their economic means.”

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 24:

  1. Enjoy live entertainment on the Main Stage
    Local musicians bring you songs sure to get you into the holiday spirit! Artists take to the stage in Courthouse Square, sponsored by Sinclair Community College, starting at 3 p.m. and continuing right up to the Grande Illumination. Scheduled performers include:

3:05-3:25 p.m. – Dayton Metro Barbershop Chorus
3:30-3:55 p.m. – Berachah Valley
4:05-4:30 p.m. – Gwen Brown
4:40-5:05 p.m. – Tori Adams
5:15-5:40 p.m. – SaxTone
5:50-6:20 p.m. – Reyna Spears Holiday Band
6:30-6:50 p.m. – Dayton Celebration Chorus
6:55 p.m. – Dayton Celebration Chorus (Jingle Bells sing-along)

  1. See the Rike’s holiday windows in the Schuster Center
    Step back into holidays past and experience a reimagining of the Rike’s department store holiday window displays that once stood at this busy downtown corner!
  2. Snap an ‘elfie’ with The Real Elf, visit a one-of-a-kind model train, and get crafty in the Holiday Village
    Take a break indoors at the Holiday Village, located in STRATACACHE Tower. You can create your own piece of Dayton Holiday Festival magic with an arts-and-crafts project and grab a photo to create lasting memories of the evening. While you’re there, stop by Mrs. Virginia Kettering’s holiday train display to see this gorgeous gift to the community in action!
  3. See cookie creations in the Gingerbread Homes for the Holidays Contest
    It’s a battle of the bakers in this delicious annual competition to build the best house on the block! Local bakers and teams will show off gingerbread masterpieces inside the Old Courthouse, where you can vote for your favorite!
  4. Take a scenic ride through downtown on a horse-drawn wagon
    Enjoy the sights and sounds of the Dayton Holiday Festival as you go dashing through downtown on this festive trip. A $1 donation per rider is suggested.
  5. Go on a Holiday Adventure with the Junior League of Dayton
    Kids are invited to go on an adventure to stops located around the festival footprint! Children who visit each of the stops and complete fun activities there will receive a free book to take home courtesy of the Junior League of Dayton and Wright-Patt Credit Union!
  6. Dance along with the Downtown Jingle Lights
    See a light show synchronized to the tunes of the holidays! The Downtown Jingle Lights will be dancing all season long starting on November 24. Tune into 95.1 FM to enjoy this drive-thru or walk-thru light show along Main Street and E. Monument Avenue throughout December.
  7. Enjoy free rides on the merry-go-round at the Street Fair on Third and meet live reindeer!
    See Third Street turned into a downtown carnival with free rides for kids of all ages during The Street Fair on Third, sponsored by altafiber. Nearby on Courthouse Square, two of Santa’s reindeer will be available for photos in the big man’s sleigh.
  8. Line the streets for the Dayton Children’s Parade Spectacular in Lights
    Floats, horses, bands, entertainers, and more will be adorned with more than 100,000 lights as they travel through downtown! Grab the magic glasses, sponsored by CareSource, to see an extra surprise during the event! The route: West Second Street to Main Street, south on Main Street to Fourth Street, and then west on Fourth Street.

  9. Count down to flip the switch on 50,000 lights during the Grande Illumination
    See the Dayton Holiday Festival tree come to life in thousands of lights at the traditional tree lighting to start the holiday season downtown and celebrate the Dayton Holiday Festival and another wonderful holiday season in downtown Dayton.

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 windows in the Schuster Center Wintergarden, the Downtown Jingle Lights interactive light display, and more. A complete list of festival events is available online, as well as a calendar of other downtown holiday events.

The Dayton Holiday Festival is presented by The Downtown Dayton Partnership and AES Ohio and is sponsored by White-Allen Chevrolet and Miami Valley Chevy Dealers, CareSource, and the Virginia W. Kettering Dayton Holiday Festival Fund. Additional support comes from the City of Dayton, Montgomery County, altafiber, NECA/IBEW Electrical Professionals, Premier Health, Sinclair College, Wright-Patt Credit Union, Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, Dayton Children’s Hospital as well as media sponsors, and Key-Ads.

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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