The excitement of the holiday season returns to downtown this year during the annual Memorial Holiday Fest and the Old Capitol Holiday Walks. Staff and volunteers with Springfield Memorial Foundation and Downtown Springfield, Inc. have outdone themselves once again to make this holiday season as merry and bright as ever.
With so much to do, it's hard to decide what to see first, so let's start at the beginning and take a walk through this winter wonderland.
The celebration kicks off on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 26, with a whirlwind of holiday activities and shopping. You'll find the downtown bedecked in traditional and contemporary Kwanza, Hanukkah and Christmas decorations. As you stroll by the storefronts of locally owned businesses, restaurants and bars, you'll see in their windows beautifully decorated Christmas trees that are part of Springfield Memorial Foundation's Holiday Fest. Step inside the shops to warm up and you'll find the showrooms and shelves brimming with gifts and special treats.
Back on the streets, the Old State Capitol will be a hub of holiday goings-on. On the east side at Sixth and Adams streets, the Christmas tree will be lit at 4 p.m., a moment that is sure to draw some oohs and aahs from the gathered crowd. On Washington Street, catch a ride in a sleigh pulled by a tractor – it doesn't get much more Midwestern than that. On the Old State Capitol lawn, the ice-skating rink is ready for both beginners and pros alike, area performers will be providing live entertainment and Santa will be receiving guests to hear some Christmas wishes. Also, the lighted SMTD bus will be parked by the plaza on Washington Street. What a sight that will be on a frosty winter's evening.
Away from the plaza, other places are also caught up in the spirit of cheer and joining in the holiday walk with activities and entertainment in the coming weeks for merrymakers of all ages.
Sock skating at the Kidzeum, dance presentations by the Springfield Youth Performance Group at the Illinois State Museum, performances of "The Nutcracker" by the Copper Coin Ballet Company at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, a scavenger hunt at Lincoln Library and luminary tours of the Dana-Thomas House – the entertainment list is endless.
Also, the Governor's Mansion is beautifully dressed for the holiday season and will be open for tours (with registration), and on the lot north of the mansion, the Illinois Department of Agriculture's holiday market will be in full swing. Many of the venues will offer holiday crafts, games and live performances, and some will have an all-time favorite winter indulgence on hand – cocoa!
This year's Memorial Holiday Fest and Old Capitol Holiday Walk are made possible by many generous sponsors and hours of teamwork by staff and volunteers. All these efforts have culminated in a season-long symphony of celebratory events that are sure to get kids from 1 to 92 into the holiday spirit. Check the schedule so you don't miss a minute of the action, bundle up and step out into this year's season of sights and sounds and holiday cheer.
Memorial Holiday Fest kick-off and tree lighting
Saturday, Nov. 26, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
See decorations for all of the winter season holidays including the new 10-foot-tall outdoor, whimsical light display at the Old State Capitol. Visit locally owned downtown businesses to see a beautiful variety of decorated Christmas trees. Enjoy live entertainment and visits with Santa on the Old State Capitol Plaza. The Christmas tree at Fifth and Adams streets will be lit at 4 p.m. Free.
Small Business Saturday
Saturday, Nov. 26, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Many Downtown businesses will be open with extended hours and holiday specials. Shoppers at participating downtown businesses will receive a Red Ticket for every $20 purchase. Winning tickets will be drawn at the Old State Capitol Plaza on Wednesday, Dec. 21. The drawing will be livestreamed and the winning ticket numbers will also be posted on the Downtown Springfield, Inc. website.
Old Capitol Holiday Walks
Nov. 26 through Dec 21
AT THE OLD STATE CAPITOL,
LAWN AND PLAZA
Kid’s craft corner, Wednesdays and Saturdays, 5-7 p.m.
Hot cocoa bar, Wednesdays and Saturdays, 5-8 p.m.
Gift wrapping, Wednesdays and Saturdays, 5-8 p.m.
Visits with Santa Claus
Saturday, Nov. 26, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., 1:30-4 p.m., 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 3, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., 1:30-4 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 10, 11 a.m.-12 pm., 5-7 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 17, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., 1:30-4 p.m., 5-7 p.m.
Wednesdays, 4-7 p.m.
Midwest sleigh rides, Saturdays 2-7 p.m. and Wednesdays 4-7 p.m. Washington Street at the Old State Capitol Plaza.
Ice skating rink, Wednesday-Friday 5-8 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Managed by Sangamon CEO high school students and located on the lawn of the Old State Capitol. Check the DSI website for info on tickets and skate rental. downtownspringfield.org.
SPRINGFIELD VISITORS CENTER
Holiday Fun with Abe and Mary Lincoln, Saturdays, Nov., 26, 12-4 p.m. and Dec. 3, 10 and 17, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Abe and Mary will be playing games with kids, reading Christmas stories and talking about days gone by. You can find them at the Springfield Visitors Center at the corner of Fifth and Adams streets. 800-545-7300.
ILLINOIS GOVERNOR’S MANSION HOLIDAY TOURS
Saturdays, 1-1:45, 2-2:45, 3-3:45, 4-4:45pm.Tours are free, but registration is required. 217-782-6450.
WINTER NIGHTS AT THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY AND MUSEUM
Wednesdays and Saturdays, 5-7 p.m. The ALPLM will offer expanded hours with free admission to enjoy the exhibits and performances. Ghost in the Library, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 5:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. Cafe space and children’s activity tables, Wednesdays and Saturdays, 4-7 p.m. The Museum Gift Shop will be open until 7 p.m. The Copper Coin Ballet Company and area dancers will present The Nutcracker on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 5:30 p.m. Performances are free, but a ticket is required for admittance. 217- 558-8844.
DANA-THOMAS HOUSE FESTIVITIES
The Dana-Thomas House is hosting a variety of holiday events and activities for the whole family to enjoy on Wednesday and Saturday evenings. Crafts in the Carriage House, 5-7 p.m. Cocoa in the Courtyard, 5-7 p.m. Luminary Nights House Tours, first tour at 5 p.m. and the last at 6:30 p.m. 217-782-6776.
KIDZEUM CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES AND HOLIDAY DECORATIONS
Handprint potholders and sock skating rink, both free with paid admission. Saturdays, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. and Wednesday, 4-7 p.m. 217-679-2123.
LINCOLN LIBRARY BOOK TREE AND CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES
Check out the community book tree and selfie stations along with a variety of activities throughout the holiday season. For more information and the full calendar of library events, visit lincolnlibrary.info.
ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM ACTIVITIES AND FESTIVITIES
The Illinois State Museum has a full lineup of holiday events and activities. Student-decorated trees are also on display. Admission and activities are free. Children’s arts and crafts, Wednesdays, 4-7 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Desserts with the Sugar Plum Fairy, Saturday, Dec 10, 3-5 p.m. PJ’s and story time with Mrs. Claus, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 5-7 p.m. 217-782-7386.
ILLINOIS PRODUCTS HOLIDAY MARKET
Friday, Dec. 2, 4-9pm, Saturday, Dec. 3, 11am-6pm and Sunday, Dec. 4, 11am-4pm. Celebrate the holiday season with local food and goods, live music and a whole lot of holiday cheer. Explore local vendors, participate in special events, and enjoy a unique shopping experience. Live entertainment, food and desserts. Y Block, north of the Governor’s Mansion.
JAYCEES HOLIDAY LIGHTS
Saturday, Dec, 3, 5:30 p.m.
A dazzling and festive parade with all the spectacle needed to usher in the holiday season. Starts at Jefferson and Seventh streets, proceeding to Fifth to Monroe to Sixth to Washington streets.
WINTER OLD CAPITOL FARMERS MARKET
Saturday, Dec. 17, 8 a.m.-12 p.m. Union Station, 500 E. Madison, 217-544-1723.
Of special note:
A free SMTD downtown holiday shuttle will be available on Saturdays from 1-5 p.m. Also, the streets around the Old State Capitol Plaza – Washington, Fifth, Sixth, part of East Adams and part of West Adams – will be closed to vehicle traffic on Saturdays. Free parking will be offered at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Horace Mann, the Hoogland Center for the Arts and at downtown meters.