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

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50th Dayton Holiday Festival - November 25, 2022

  • Dayton Holiday Festival - crowds at the parade
    Dayton Holiday Festival - crowds at the parade [ info ]

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

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

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

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

10 things to do at the 50th Dayton Holiday Festival this Friday, Nov 25

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. 

Crowds at the Dayton Holiday Festival

“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 

Rikes Holiday Windows

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! 

Holiday Village at the Dayton Holiday Festival

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! 

Gingerbread Houses at the Dayton Holiday Festival

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!

Take a scenic ride through downtown on a horse-drawn wagon

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. 

Memory Lane - Dayton Holiday Festival

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. 

Reindeer petting zoo at the Dayton Holiday Festival

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. 

Dayton Holiday Festival parade

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. 

Dayton Holiday Festival Tree

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. 

More Information
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    A nonprofit organization that includes information about working, living and having fun in downtown Dayton.