30th annual Festival of Light Celebration kicks off Friday

One of Santa's reindeer greets the assembled crowd at a past year's Festival of Light kick off on the Ashland Plaza. Travel Ashland photo
November 24, 2022

Santa due to arrive in Ashland and flip the switch on the ‘Grand Illumination’

The 30th annual Festival of Light Celebration kicks off the Ashland holiday season on Friday, Nov. 25, with Santa’s arrival on the Ashland Plaza, culminating in the “Grand Illumination,” when more than one million lights throughout town are turned on.

Produced by the Ashland Chamber and Travel Ashland, preparations have been underway and the finishing touches are underway to adorn Ashland with decorations.

Musical entertainment begins on the Plaza at 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, with Bekkah and the Dusty Rubies. Youth musicians will join the band for a set at 3 p.m. Treehouse Books and ScienceWorks Museum will present the Secret Storyworld of Gnome at 4 p.m., introducing a weekend scavenger hunt throughout downtown Ashland. Holiday carols will be sung by Greg Capp, the event emcee.

Santa’s arrival begins at 5 p.m. at the Ashland Public Library. A lantern-lit procession of arts and children’s organizations will lead Santa and Mrs. Claus and their team of reindeer to the Plaza. Santa will make his way to the Brickroom Balcony to lead spectators in a carol and countdown to the Grand Illumination when over one million lights will illuminate downtown.

“We are thrilled to bring back Santa’s Arrival and the Grand Illumination event this year, that marks the beginning of the holiday season here in Ashland. This celebration has been welcoming visitors and locals for 30 years. It is a tradition close to our hearts that makes magical memories for all,” Sandra Slattery, executive director of the Ashland Chamber, said in the release.

Holiday events in Ashland include holiday performance productions, restaurant and winery pairings and specials, festive shopping, skating at the ice rink, craft fairs, scavenger hunts and more.

For event and holiday season information, visit travelashland.com and ashlandchamber.com. The Travel Ashland Facebook event page for the Festival of Light kick off is here.

A small group gathered Monday, Nov. 21, on Gateway Island to mark the planting of a new “Lights for Life” tree to replace one knocked done by an errant vehicle in April. Ashland Community Health Foundation photo
Lights for Life campaign

A news Ashland Lights for Life tree will be lit as part of Ashland’s annual Festival of Light.

Lights for Life began in 1987 as a small annual fundraising campaign in Ashland, combining the spirit of the holiday season with Ashland’s unique sense of community. In 1996, the campaign expanded to Talent, and this year, Lights for Life is part of the City of Phoenix’s holiday celebration.

Gifts to the campaign support the health care needs of our community. They are represented by colored lights on the Lights for Life trees located near the Ashland Public Library, the Talent Community Center, and now at the Phoenix Civic Center.

The Ashland community woke up on April 9 to find the Ashland tree at the west end of Siskiyou Boulevard in the median island by Ashland Fire & Rescue Station No. 1 uprooted after a car accident. Recognizing the importance of the tree to the Ashland community, the city of Ashland and Ashland Parks and Recreation Department arranged to have a new tree planted. 

To commemorate the Nov. 18 planting, the Ashland Community Health Foundation held a small dedication ceremony on Nov. 21. Chaplain Rosanna Ferraro-Jensen officiated, offering good wishes for its safety and longevity.

The lights on the Lights for Life trees are intended to exemplify the generosity of the community, with each light symbolizing a donation made in honor or in memory of someone special. Over the years, lights have honored health care workers, veterans, grandchildren, cherished pets, and iconic historical figures. Lights have memorialized those who lost their lives to COVID along with beloved family and community members.

Those who have been honored receive a Lights for Life holiday card notifying them that a gift has been made in their honor, and honorees and donors are recognized in various publications in the Rogue Valley.

For more information about how to participate in Lights for Life, visit achfoundation.org or call 541-482-0367.

In Talent, the tree-lighting ceremony will be held on Friday, Dec. 2. Beginning at 5 p.m., children are invited to create their own special ornament at Talent Maker City. The festivities will continue at the Talent Community Center with caroling, holiday messages from the mayor and ACHF, and the arrival of Santa for the lighting of the tree.

Source: Travel Ashland and Ashland Community Health Foundation news releases. Email Ashland.news Executive Editor Bert Etling at betling@ashland.news or call or text him at 541-631-1313.

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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