Light Up York moves to first Saturday in December

Jason Addy
York Dispatch

After years of lighting downtown York City’s Christmas tree on a cold, dark Friday evening, Light Up York will move to Saturday this year for a full day of holiday-themed festivities. 

Light Up York, once held on weeknights, moved to the first Friday of December several years ago to build momentum for York City’s last monthly First Friday event of the year, York City Special Events planner Mary Yeaple said.

About 1000 people attended the Light Up York event at Continental Square Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. The event featured the lighting of the tree, Santa's arrival and photos with a live reindeer. Bill Kalina photo

With December’s First Friday no longer needing that boost, Yeaple said, Light Up York is moving to Saturday, Dec. 2, creating a weekend of Light Up-themed festivities.

Light Up York will run from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, with the event encompassing much of the central downtown district of York City.

First Friday: December’s First Friday event — from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1 — also will have a "Light Up" theme this year, according to Stacy McClain, marketing and events coordinator for Downtown Inc, the sponsor of the monthly event.

Though Light Up York has been moved to the next day, First Friday revelers will still get a taste of the "Light Up" excitement, with businesses along King and Duke streets switching on their Christmas lights at 6 p.m., McClain said.

"Royal Square is going to be lighting up their whole block," McClain said. 

With Santa setting up shop in Cherie Anne Designs on West Philadelphia Street and St. John Episcopal Church on North Beaver Street hosting its third annual Cookie Walk, McClain guaranteed a "fun atmosphere" and a big turnout for December's First Friday event.

Light Up events: Moving Light Up York to a Saturday allows planners to start the event much earlier and schedule a “whole day of activities,” including a downtown scavenger hunt, a gingerbread-themed escape room and a giant snow-globe photo booth, Yeaple said.

Most Light Up York events and entertainment will take place between noon and 4 p.m. that day, Yeaple said, with the tree-lighting ceremony kicking off at 5 p.m. 

The city’s Rex/Laurel Fire Station will host a gingerbread-themed escape room and the Miniature Railroad Club of York’s Thomas the Tank Engine display, with a human snow-globe photo station and three showings of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" playing at the Appell Center for the Performing Arts.

Central Market will stay open late to host a bevy of arts-and-crafts workshops and live performances, with the market closing at 8 p.m. 

Tyler Brown Photography will give out free photos with Santa during Light Up York, with Father Christmas taking a break from holiday duties from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Martin Library. Children must be in line by 4 p.m. to get a photo with Santa, according to the event schedule.

Thanks to Shipley Energy and the Cultural Alliance of York County, Light Up York will be put on without any city tax dollars, Yeaple said.

Move to Saturday: York City Special Events planners will move York Bike Night from Friday to Saturday for the first time next year, hoping the scheduling change will bring a healthy uptick in attendance at the event.

Planners are confident Light Up York’s move to Saturday will have the same effect, with many more people and families able to attend on a weekend afternoon than a Friday evening, Yeaple said.

With a full slate of new activities and displays to complement an already robust schedule of dance and music performances, art exhibits and other entertainment, planners are hoping families take the day to explore and enjoy downtown York City, Yeaple said.

“It’s going to be a great day to be downtown,” she said.

A full list of Light Up York events, vendors and performances can be found on the York City Special Events website and Facebook page.

For more details about Light Up Night, visit the Downtown Inc website.

— Editor's note: This article was updated to reflect that York Bike Night will move to Saturday for the first time in 2018.