Beginning as a tree-lighting ceremony in 2001, Downtown in December has since expanded to brighten Bricktown throughout the holiday season.
“I think my favorite part of Downtown in December would have to be the light displays,” said Riley Cole, Downtown OKC Inc.’s events coordinator. “So whether that’s the Bricktown Canal lights or the Automobile Alley light displays, I think that in itself is a destination. It just creates a good environment to stroll around and go into different businesses, and it makes the holiday experience just even better.”
Despite its name, Downtown in December — produced with funding from the Downtown Oklahoma City Partnership, Downtown Business Improvement District, Devon Energy and other corporate sponsors — actually begins 4 p.m. Saturday with the second annual Lights on Broadway event. Businesses along Broadway Avenue between NW Fourth and 10th streets will be lit up, and some will feature holiday-themed window displays, activities, specials and giveaways. RCB Bank will host an outdoor screening of holiday films including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Jack Frost.
“Really, it’s geared to pushing people into the doors of all the retailers and businesses that are in Automobile Alley,” Cole said. “So they’re offering specials and programming, and then we have street activities. So we will do a face painter, and Santa will be walking around. We’ll have free carriage rides and s’mores. A live brass band will be performing. So that’s one of my favorites because it’s not just one central location of something to do.”
The Curbside Chronicle will be on-site selling wrapping paper to benefit the Wrap Up Homelessness program. Other events also included in Downtown in December benefit charities as well. Self-guided tours of the historic churches in the area are available 2-5:30 p.m. Sunday for $20 per person, with all proceeds going to Good Shepherd Ministries, which provides medical and dental care to the uninsured. Little Willie’s Triple Dog Dare, a 138-floor stair-climbing race benefitting Homeless Alliance, begins 8 a.m. Dec. 2, in Leadership Square. Registration is $45 per racer, and the event is open to all ages with awards for the top male and female finisher in each age category and a special competition for firefighters who’ll be required to complete the course dressed in full firefighting gear.
Devon Ice Rink opened at Myriad Botanical Gardens, 100 S. Robinson Ave., Nov. 13 and is open through Jan. 28. Tickets are $7-$13. Rock N’ Skate nights and private parties are available.
New to this year’s festival is Bricktown Holiday Parklet, a temporary pop-up park decorated with garlands and lights from Nov. 24 through Jan. 1, and Santa Fe Station Open House 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Dec. 9 in celebration of the 80-year-old train station’s recent renovation. Children in attendance will receive free hot chocolate, train-safety coloring books and train whistles and have the chance to create their own holiday craft. Guided tours of the station will also be provided.
Another Downtown in December first is Mannheim Steamroller Christmas presented by OKC Broadway and featuring musical selections from the popular group’s bestselling holiday albums released over the past three decades. The show is scheduled to begin 7:30 p.m. Dec. 26 at Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N. Walker Ave., and tickets are $27.09-$86.70. Several other musical stage shows also take place at Civic Center Music Hall as part of Downtown in December. Oklahoma City Philharmonic’s annual The Christmas Show runs Nov. 30-Dec. 2, and tickets are $19-$68. Choral group Canterbury Voices presents Handel’s Messiah with its famous “Hallelujah Chorus” 7 p.m. Dec. 3. Tickets are $15-$60 with a reception and Santa Claus photo-ops. Oklahoma City Ballet’s presentation of The Nutcracker runs Dec. 9-19, and tickets are $15-$70.
Fans of classic holiday theater productions will also have the opportunity to see Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Nov. 29-Dec. 24 at Lyric at the Plaza, 1727 NW 16th St. Tickets are $25-$71. The City Cabaret OKC will give holiday favorites a jazzier presentation with Retro Wonderland 8 p.m. Dec. 21-23 at The Paramount Theatre OKC, 11 N. Lee Ave. Tickets are $25, and retro-style dress is encouraged.
For those who’d rather not sit still, LifeShare WinterFest & Snow Tubing offers two-hour snow tubing sessions for $13 per rider, and Bricktown Water Taxi offers free holiday-themed rides on Bricktown Canal Nov. 24-Dec. 31, excluding Christmas and New Year’s Day and weather permitting.
Of course, Downtown in December’s original tree-lighting tradition continues with the 16th annual Bricktown Tree Lighting Festival beginning 5 p.m. Nov. 24 at Third Base Plaza at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, 2 S. Mickey Mantle Drive. Mayor Mick Cornett, aided by Santa Claus himself, will light the tree, and the cast of Lyric Theatre’s A Christmas Carol and local musicians Adam & Kizzie are scheduled to perform.
The year’s holiday festivities all lead up to OKC Arts Council’s Opening Night Dec. 31 celebrating the New Year with performances by Bricktown Clowns, OKC Improv, Sativa Prophets, Moetowne Alex and the Nightview Band, Jabee and several other acts. Food trucks and a children’s area that includes face-painting and a mirror maze offer other festive diversions, and headliners David Bruster and the Walkabouts are scheduled to take the Bicentennial Park stage 9 p.m.-midnight, when a fireworks display will ring in the New Year, putting even more lights into the night sky. Wristbands are $8-$10 and go on sale Dec. 1.
Downtown in December
Print headline: Winter wonderland; Downtown in December transforms OKC into a holiday hotspot with dozens of events