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Celebration of Lights kicks off Batavia's holiday season

Tue November 21, 2023

The annual Celebration of Lights Festival will light up the Batavia Riverwalk the evening of Nov. 26 as the community gathers to kick off the holiday season and welcome Santa.

Presented by the Batavia Park District, this free event celebrates the magic of the season with festive and fun holiday activities, song and ceremony, culminating in Santa’s arrival and a welcome by Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke, followed by the ceremonial tree lighting.

“The Riverwalk magically comes to life this time of year with the holiday lit trees, the little ones' sheer excitement for spending quality time with Santa and the good old fashioned community sing-along,” said Batavia Park District Executive Director Allison Niemela. “It warms my heart to see so many people coming together to celebrate the magic of the season.”

This year, Batavians will have the opportunity to make history by witnessing the Peace on Earth letters being lit for the first time around 5:30 p.m. at the Peace Bridge next to the Jeffery D. Schielke Government Center. In October, new LED-lit lettering was installed so that the art can be enjoyed 24/7 year-round.

From 5 to 7 p.m., make merry with hayrides, a family photo opportunity, a performance by the Batavia Community Band, a seasonal exhibit at the Batavia Depot Museum, a stroll on Christmas Tree Lane and a holiday craft activity at city hall.

Explore the colorful lights and festive decorations along Christmas Tree Lane, a stretch of Riverwalk path featuring trees decorated by 25 community organizations. All decorated trees will be entered into a contest and eligible to win a prize in one of three categories: Most Original Theme, Best Holiday Spirit and People's Choice. Everyone can vote for the People’s Choice winner via the Batavia Park District’s Facebook page through noon on Nov. 26.

To prepare for Santa’s arrival, Craig Foltos of Foltos Tonsorial Parlor will lead a community sing-along at 5:15 p.m., encouraging all to enjoy singing a few beloved holiday tunes. Santa arrives at 5:30 p.m., just in time for the ceremonial tree lighting.

At 5:45 p.m., the Peg Bond Center becomes Santa’s Warming House, open for visits and photos with jolly ol’ St.Nick.

Across the pond, the Batavia Depot Museum will host “Hometown Holidays,” an exhibit featuring local holiday traditions, and a story time presented by the Batavia Public Library from 5:45 to 6:30 p.m. Special guest readers will share their favorite holiday tales.

Ring in the holiday season with family-friendly activities and a visit with Santa. For more information, visit