The Grande Illumination Dayton Holiday Festival traditional tree lighting and Dayton Children’s Parade Spectacular in Lights - November 26, 2021.
The Dayton Holiday Festival, presented by AES Ohio, is your source for family-friendly holiday fun in downtown Dayton. Started by Mrs. Virginia Kettering in 1972 so that all children could enjoy the holiday season regardless of their economic means, the festival continues today with free attractions for the community.
Activities planned for the day include the Grande Illumination tree-lighting ceremony, presented by AES Ohio, along with live musical entertainment on the main stage, the Street Fair on Third, fun children’s activities in the Holiday Village on Second Street outside Stratacache Tower, the Junior League of Dayton’s Holiday Adventure, horse-drawn wagon rides, photos with live reindeer, and a gingerbread house display in the Old Courthouse. The suggested cost for wagon rides is $1 per person, but all other activities are free.
The tree-lighting ceremony will take place at 7:55 p.m. on Courthouse Square, followed immediately by the Dayton Children’s Parade Spectacular in Lights, presented by White Allen Chevrolet. Thousands of lights will illuminate the 45-minute parade, featuring a variety of festive floats, entertainers, animals and several surprises.
Extra precautions have been taken for this year’s Dayton Holiday Festival in order to allow in-person gathering in the safest way possible. The vast majority of the festival’s activities will take place outdoors this year. Guests are encouraged to wear masks covering the mouth and nose, and free masks with festive holiday designs also will be available at the festival for attendees to wear.
“The Grande Illumination and Dayton Children’s Parade Spectacular in Lights is a great night for the family to come downtown,” said Sandy Gudorf, president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership. “The past couple of years have been difficult for all of us, but we are so happy to be able to gather again safely this year to kick off the holiday season together as a community. It will truly be a magical night guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit.”
Those unable to attend this year’s festivities in person can still enjoy the holiday kickoff by tuning in to WHIO-TV at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 26 to watch the Grande Illumination TV special and tree lighting live on television.
Grande Illumination, presented by AES Ohio ? The tree-lighting ceremony will take place at 7:55 p.m. on Courthouse Square. Media sponsor: WHIO-TV
Dayton Children’s Parade Spectacular in Lights, presented by White Allen Chevrolet - Starts immediately following the Grande Illumination. The route: West Second Street to Main Street, south on Main Street to Fourth Street, and then west on Fourth Street. LED parade lights sponsored by NECA/IBEW Electrical Professionals.
Live reindeer photo station, sponsored by AES Ohio — Take a family photo with a sleigh and live reindeer. It’s unique and fun way to capture your memories of the Grande Illumination and Parade!
Main Stage Entertainment, sponsored by Dinsmore & Shohl LLP ? Enjoy live entertainment on the Courthouse Square stage. Performances begin around 4 p.m. The schedule is:
Magic Glasses, sponsored by CareSource ? Look for volunteers passing out these special glasses on Courthouse Square prior to the tree lighting, or pick up a pair at any information station.
Gingerbread Homes for the Holidays ? View all the delicious contest entries and the award-winning houses, and vote for your favorite, located inside the old Montgomery County courthouse.
The Holiday Village ? Located on Second Street outside the Stratacache Tower from 4 to 9 p.m., this is a favorite stop for children, featuring free activities for kids and Mrs. Virginia Kettering’s train on display.
Street Fair on Third, sponsored by Cincinnati Bell ? At this holiday street fair, free rides and other activities will be set up on Third Street between Main and Ludlow streets.
Horse-Drawn Wagon Rides, sponsored by Fifth Third Bank ? From 4 to 7:30 p.m., wagons will pick up passengers near the corner of Second and Main streets for a ride through downtown. Rides are $1 per person suggested donation. Lines can be long, so come early.
Junior League of Dayton’s Holiday Adventure, sponsored by Wright-Patt Credit Union - Kids will go on an adventure around the festival footprint, presented by the Junior League of Dayton. Children who visit all the stops will receive a free book.
Rike’s Holiday Windows – Located inside the Schuster Center Wintergarden, experience a reimagining of the Rike’s department store holiday window displays that once stood at this busy downtown corner.
Downtown Jingle Lights, sponsored by iHeartRADIO – Along Main Street, Third Street, and Monument Avenue, see downtown streets transformed into an interactive, drive-thru light show, choreographed to the beat of your favorite holiday tunes! Tune your radio to 97.1 FM as you drive the route throughout the holiday season.
Ice Skating – The MetroParks Ice Rink at RiverScape MetroPark opens for the season on Nov. 26.
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