When the holiday lights are illuminated, they sparkle through the eyes of children.
It’s the magic of Christmas.
That’s the warm, nostalgic feeling you’ll experience when gathering for Light Up Ligonier, the annual event where the entire diamond shines under bright lights and festive decorations to welcome the spirit of the season.
The signature bandstand in the middle of town is home to a stunning Christmas tree adorned with lights and ornaments, decorated with strands of colored lights and evergreen details.
When you drive into town, the first sight you see is that trademark bandstand, the spot that signals you are in Ligonier. This is Ligonier, a friendly place where people are kind, and in a world of commercialization, Ligonier continues to hold onto strong family traditions and old-school times.
Light Up Ligonier is Nov. 29, the Friday after Thanksgiving. This most wonderful time of year continues on Dec. 8, when the town celebrates an open house, a special day where you can enjoy holiday shopping. The Gingerbread House contest will once again be held at the Ramada Inn in Ligonier from Dec. 6-15.
On a winter day, with the snow falling, you almost feel like you are living a Hallmark movie.
Grab a cup of hot chocolate and take slow sips to savor the moment while you are serenaded with Christmas songs.
From “Jingle Bells” to” Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” guests will recognize songs playing at Light Up Ligonier. All are invited to sing along to the familiar tunes that put you in the holiday mood.
“Experience your own Hallmark movie and prepare for the holidays by shopping and enjoying all the lights,” said Ruthie Stewart, events and marketing coordinator for Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce. “It’s the perfect night to get those family photos and capture the moment, a point in time that creates a family memory.”
There is a rich history in Ligonier, Stewart said. The atmosphere is special. You can go move away, but when you return to town for this event, you feel like you felt as a child, she said.
Through a raffle, one child will get to push the button to turn on the lights throughout the town – a moment that causes those in attendance to look on in awe and share a collective gasp because it’s so stunning. Children can write their wish lists and bring their letters to Santa Claus and place them inside Santa’s Mailbox – you can’t miss it — sitting on the town hall steps. Just make sure to include a return address.
“We have a direct line to the North Pole here in Ligonier,” Stewart said. “When I was a child, I put my letter in the mailbox, and he sent me a letter back. Christmas magic can be found in Ligonier. I know because I experienced the magic as a child, and I still feel it as an adult. To see the face of the child who won the raffle to hit the button to light up the town is so rewarding. Now that’s magic.”
Santa Claus will be making an appearance after the 6:30 p.m. parade inside the town hall. There will be performances by local high school bands and horse-drawn carriage sleigh rides.
The event kicks off the holiday season of shopping and invites people to shop local from the more than 60 business owners who have handpicked items just for you. There are so many artisans in Ligonier that you can find that unique gift, including gift cards to stores and boutiques that offer a true shopping experience.
Stewart said Light Up Ligonier is the type of event where people return year after year. Many generations of families have made it an annual tradition since it began in the 1980s.
“I remember going as a youngster with my family,” she said. “I have worked during it because my family owns a business in Ligonier. It’s not something you grow out of because we are all children at heart. If the kid in you needs a boost of holiday cheer, just look at the face of the child who hits the button and lights up Ligonier. It’s truly a classic moment.”