Festival of Light kicks off downtown Friday

Ashland's Festival of Light kicks off the holiday season Nov. 27 with a Santa parade to the Plaza and the illumination of more than a million lights festooning the entire downtown.

The festival starts at 1 p.m. with live entertainment on the Plaza by Rogue Valley Peace Choir, the Hula Troop, Camelot Theater and the Ashland Brass Quintet. Entertainment will continue on Saturdays through Dec. 19 as strolling musicians pop in and out of stores and restaurants to serenade shoppers.

Santa, Ms. Claus and the reindeer will make their way from the Ashland library at Gresham Street and Siskiyou Boulevard down to the Plaza for caroling and the countdown to the Grand Illumination at 5:45 p.m.

At 6:30 p.m., Santa will be available to hear kids' gift wishes and pose for pictures with the wee ones at the Black Swan Theater and on the four successive Saturdays at the Shakespeare Information Center. He posed with more than 800 kids last year.

In keeping with the sustainability of the times, "green" has a new meaning this Yule, with the Ashland Chamber refurbishing the town's 50 big wreaths with energy-stingy LED lights — as well as new garlands and ribbons, says Chamber marketing director Kathleen Flanagan.

The master plan over the next five years calls for snowflake decorations on lampposts on Highway 66 and all the outside lights on stores to be shifted to LED (not incandescent), says Flanagan.

The town's refurbished ice rink across from Lithia Park opened Nov. 20, with skating from 2 to 5 p.m. and from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Its many events, teams and schedules are online at www.ashland.or.us/icerink.

As it has for many years, Winchester Inn will hold its six-course Dickens Christmas Feast, with live entertainment and a visit by Saint Nick between courses. The feast will be offered Wednesdays through Sundays, Dec. 2-20, and Dec. 22-24 for $67.50 per person, including tax and gratuity. For more, visit www.winchesterinn.com.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

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