DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – With Thanksgiving a day away, Christmas preparations are just around the corner. The Downtown Dayton Partnership is among those kicking off the Christmas season on Black Friday with the 49th annual Dayton Holiday Festival.

The festivities will include the Grande Illumination of the Christmas tree on Courthouse Square, immediately followed by the Dayton Children’s Parade. Leading up to the tree lighting, onlookers can enjoy live entertainment by local musicians, meet reindeer, go on horse-drawn wagon rides and more.

“Last year we were not able to gather because of COVID and this year, everybody is very excited that we can bring the community together,” said Sandy Gudorf, president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership.

However, she said they plan to do that with as many precautions in place as possible. She said it is recommended that attendees wear masks, as a large crowd is expected to gather in the Square. She added that some of the activities that are typically held indoors are now being moved outside to allow for more physical distancing and fresh air.

“The holiday village that typically happens in the Stratacache Tower lobby, we’ve moved outside on Second Street,” said Gudorf. “You can still see Mrs. Kettering’s beautiful train, but you’re going to have to look at that from the outside not the inside. The Rike’s Windows are still happening. They will be available and they’re a favorite of so many. But one thing that will not be happening in the Schuster Center is the tyke shop.”

Gudorf added downtown drivers should be prepared for road closures. The festivities will kick off at 4 p.m. on Friday and last through 9 p.m. Activities are free to attend.

For more information about parking, click here.

For a schedule and map of events, click here.