with Holiday Delights
City Sidewalks, Winterlightfest to brighten Christmas
Abilene’s historic downtown will sparkle with old-fashioned Christmas magic during the holiday season, and the upcoming City Sidewalks & Downtown Christmas Days, Dec. 2-7, is a surefire way to catch the spirit. The downtown area has been reborn since this event began more than 30 years ago, and the elaborate lights and holiday decorations celebrate that proud progress.
Each venue goes all out. Merchants, museums, galleries, restaurants, and watering holes make special plans and keep special hours that week. It’s a smorgasbord of holiday fun: Monday, Dec. 2, everyone is invited to celebrate the holiday lights and 62-foot tall outdoor Christmas tree. Live music and line dancing with the Texas Tornados will mark the occasion. Following nights offer themed fun, with a festive parade Tuesday, pet night on Wednesday, caroling and La Posadas procession on Thursday, and shopping specials on Friday and Saturday. Find a full schedule here.
Another reason Abilene is sparkling for the holidays is Winter Lightfest, a ¾-mile walking trail of lights. Guests can bundle up for a nature stroll through magical tree-lined paths lit with thousands of twinkling lights and animated displays. Refreshments and activities will be on hand, and choirs and music groups will perform on various evenings. Family photo ops are sprinkled throughout the sparkle.
The show runs Thanksgiving Day to Dec. 29. Gates open at 5:30 pm and last admission at 9 pm. Gates close at 10 pm. It all takes place at Centennial Park, located at East South 27th Street between Maple Street and Oldham Lane in Abilene.
Abilene is full of creative or classic options for lodging from economy properties to up-scale guest houses. Bring the whole posse and stay along the leafy Elm Creek at the Lazy Cactus, or make memories at the glamorously appointed, historic Stardust on Sayles. For groups of all sizes, check out the upscale selection of Sayles Ranch Guest Houses scattered throughout the city. Another homey choice is 1109 Guest House, where up to 10 can live like a local on a quaint street. All are deliciously designed.
For dining, the historic properties north of the railroad tracks, as well as the blossoming SoDA District just south, house a myriad of drinking and dining options, from woodstove-fired pizza, upscale comfort food or steaks, pubs, delis, burgers, cocktails, or a relaxing sunset with steak and wine among the silos of an old mill. Craft brewery choices abound, and the upcoming Belsnickel Beer Stroll hosted by the creatives at the Center for Contemporary Arts Dec. 6 is a grand way to try them all. Watch for a pop-up opportunity to boot scoot, as the roving Eller Hall hosts family-friendly hootenannies in various venues once or twice a month. The city also was recently certified by the Texas Music Office as a “Music Friendly” community, and is nurturing a lively scene for performing artists. That’s music to our ears.
If you go:
Abilene Regional Airport daily flights;
Driving: Two-hour drive on Interstate 20 from Fort Worth or Midland
Other holiday happenings:
- Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” Nov. 22-24, Paramount Theatre. Abilene Ballet Theatre’s performances of this holiday classic have earned national acclaim, and the fairy tale setting of the historic theatre adds to the charm. It’s a 32-year tradition.
- “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Dec. 4, 7 pm: Count your blessings under the twinkling stars of the Historic Paramount Theatre at KACU Abilene Public Radio’s old-fashioned live radio play. kacu.org
- Carols & Ales, Dec. 5, 6-8 pm: Swing a frosty mug and sing a tune. Cypress Street Station, 158 Cypress Street.
- Christmas in the Garden, Friday, Dec. 6. This special Storybook Capital family event in the Adamson-Spalding Storybook Garden answers the question: How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? Hop aboard the train. Play in real snow. Make holiday crafts. Meet Santa. Pose for photos. Abilenecac.org
- Belsnickel Beer Stroll, Friday, Dec. 6, 8 -10 pm: Take a Belsnickel-guided tour to find tasty brews throughout the Cultural District. Center for Contemporary Arts. Call (325) 677-8389.
- Family Fun Days every Saturday, 1 to 4 pm: Bring the kids to the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, 102 Cedar St., for a free art activity and “Santa Calls” book reading. Current exhibit celebrates the vibrant work of acclaimed artist Yuyi Morales.
- A Hometown Christmas, Abilene Philharmonic concert Dec. 7: Bruce Ewing, vocalist. Family Friendly Matinee at 3 pm; full concert at 7:30 pm. Abilene Convention Center. ww.abilenephilharmonic.org.
- “White Christmas” Dec. 13 & Dec. 14: Experience the classic film in the glamour setting of the historic Paramount Theatre.
- The Abilene Zoo is expecting real reindeer to visit for two days and is planning holiday parties. Check the website for details.
- Handel’s “Messiah,” Dec. 15, 7:30 pm, Paramount Theatre. The Abilene Opera Association will join a live orchestra conducted by David Itkin to perform this inspiring classic. Hallelujah! A special Afterglow Party will follow. Meet on the city sidewalks outside the theatre.
Stroll the streets of the Storybook Capital of America, and you’ll remember why you loved Christmas.
Plot a holiday adventure at: abilenevisitors.com.