Top 10 things to do at the Dayton Holiday Festival

Downtown Dayton Partnership
last updated 11/23/2023
Top 10 things to do at the Dayton Holiday Festival

The 51st annual Dayton Holiday Festival kicks off on November 24 with the Grande Illumination and Dayton Children's Parade.

Top 10 things to do at the Dayton Holiday Festival

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10 things to do at the 51st Dayton Holiday Festival

The Dayton Holiday Festival, presented by AES Ohio, officially begins in Courthouse Square on Friday, November 25! 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. 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.”

Crowds at the Dayton Holiday Festival

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:

10. 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)

Rikes Holiday Windows

9. See the iconic 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!

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 

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!

Gingerbread Houses at the Dayton Holiday Festival

7. See masterfully built 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!

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

6. 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!

4. 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. 

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! 

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.

Dayton Holiday Festival parade

2. 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.

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.

Photos: Top 10 things to do at the Dayton Holiday Festival

Dayton Holiday Festival - crowds at the parade

Dayton Holiday Festival - crowds at the parade
50th Dayton Holiday Festival - crowds at the parade

Downtown Dayton Partnership.

Downtown Dayton Partnership - A nonprofit organization that includes information about working, living and having fun in downtown Dayton.

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