Light Up Downtown, the annual holiday festival in downtown North Wilkesboro, returns Friday at 6 p.m. Downtown shops will be open until 9 p.m. or later, food and craft vendors will be set up on the streets, and there will be live music, dance troupes, hayrides, train rides, a live nativity scene and Santa Claus.

The Wilkes Central High School Marching Band will start things off at 5:50 p.m., followed by the lighting ceremony led by Mayor Robert Johnson. Several local dance troupes will perform throughout the evening, and the Holiday Bell Tones and Bobby Billings will provide festive music on 10th Street.

The event will feature hayrides, a live nativity, Little Mountain trackless train and “Reindeer Village,” a children’s crafting area at the Wilkes Art Gallery. Santa Claus will be at the Towne Square (formerly Melody Square) ready to hear Christmas wishes.

Downtown streets will be lined with twinkling lights, tasty treats and various merchants and stores are open late with their creative window displays. The event is presented by the Downtown North Wilkesboro Partnership and the Town of North Wilkesboro. Special thanks to Blue Ridge Tractor, Brad Shinaman D.D.S, NCDOT, and Oak Grove Baptist Church.

Street closures will begin at 5 p.m., but all public parking lots will be accessible.

The schedule for Ninth Street activities is: 5:50 p.m. – Wilkes Central High School Marching Band; 6 p.m. - Lighting Ceremony, Mayor Robert L. Johnson with David Biro; 6:05 p.m. – Tonya’s Academy of Dance; 6:35 p.m. – Footloose Dancers; 7:05 p.m. – Studio 68; 7:35 p.m. – Foothills Cloggers and Wilkes County Line Dancers; 8 p.m. – Prophetic Dancers from the Gathering Church.

On Main Street, hayrides are courtesy of Blue Ridge Tractor, at the corner of Main and 10th streets, and Little Mountain Railroad trackless train rides.

Inside Holland Clothing, Bobby Billings hosts music on stage with R.G. Absher and the Holiday Bell Tones, plus much more. The live nativity scene in Apple Festival Park is presented by Oak Grove Baptist Church, and the “Reindeer Village” has children’s holiday crafts at the Wilkes Art Gallery from 6 p.m.-8 p.m.

Towne Square (formerly Melody Square) has a 6 p.m. visit with Santa Claus, and Benjamin Barker performs Christmas music from 6-8 p.m.

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