The Festival of Lights in Manhattan, KS is the kick-off to the Christmas holiday season for many local residents. It is also a place to slow-down and make memories with family and friends alike!
Every year the kick-off to the Christmas holiday season starts the Friday after Thanksgiving with the Festival of Lights in Manhattan, KS. Thousands of people gather in Blue Earth Plaza with their families to watch Santa fly into Manhattan and light the largest pre-lit tree in Kanas! Although this year the “kick-off” will be done via Facebook Premiere to ensure everyone’s safety, I have no doubt it will still be magical!
If you are not familiar with the Festival of Lights, you can find even more information on either their Facebook page or their website. While you are there take a look at some of their previous kick-off videos. I promise you will be impressed at the level of detail and effort put into this entire event. Previous videos show Santa flying past Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan Hill, and then over KS Hill right before Santa flies into the Blue Earth Plaza. Trust me it is amazing!
The tree at the Festival of Lights is completely synchronized to the local radio station 88.1FM for those wishing to enjoy the lights from their vehicle.
In addition to the lighting, there are several events throughout the month for both individuals and families to participate in. This year there will be a drive-by carnival for children to get goody bags! And, if you are behind and still need to get a letter off to Santa, there is a mailbox that you can drop your letters in and Santa will send you a reply! For those not comfortable walking through the lights, you can tune your radio to 88.1FM and watch the lights dance to the music from your car.
Competitive Ice Sculptors put on a great show for everyone to enjoy. Several are more than willing to share their craft by answering questions from the crowds
The Festival of Lights truly speaks to how special of a town Manhattan, Ks is. This event is a place for families to make memories and as a way to bring the community together. Several families, I know in town have made it a tradition to attend the lighting every year. They enjoy the hot chocolate, watching the magic of Santa flying in, and then taking the evening to slow down and walk together through the lights. Many even use the various decorations as a background for photos.
Family and friends enjoy the lights and sights that make for special photo backgrounds at the Festival of Lights!
Something that I think most people are not aware of is that this event is put on strictly by donations from local businesses, individuals, and volunteers! The idea for a simple holiday tree in Blue Earth Plaza originally came from a local businessman, Colin Noble. Using his local network, Colin, reached out to other local businesses that he knew also had a philanthropic mindset and in 2013, the Festival of Lights was born. The group formed a not-for-profit organization as a way to continue to pledge to the event and encourage others to do so as well. The group, now known as Whoville Inc. has continued to pledge and give back to a community that they all love so much while at the same time making this event special every year!
Again, while this year will look a little different on Friday evening, I have no doubt that we will all feel the magic while we are safely gathered in our homes!