2012 Christmas on the Square Holiday Light Up

The weather was actually pretty cooperative for Saturday’s Christmas on the Square, with temperatures holding out at a very reasonable –5C. It was a far cry from last year’s event, where the crowd was all dancing to keep warm.

Holiday Light-Up on the Square 2012

Crowds gather

There were several vendors on hand to round out the festivities. It was good to see Big City Sandwich and Eva Sweet, but the biggest line was easily awarded to the mini doughnut trailer (I have to say I consider mini doughnuts a summer food, but given the salivating crowds, perhaps the WinterCity Strategy should specifically name this treat as a method of drawing crowds outdoors).

Holiday Light-Up on the Square 2012

Big City Sandwich

A new addition to the program this year was Booming Tree, a Japanese drumming duo. Although their act was mostly only tangentially related to the holidays (festive lights around the drums can only go so far), I really enjoyed their act. It was a pleasant change from the usual Christmas music.

Holiday Light-Up on the Square 2012

Here’s Santa

Speaking of music, when Mayor Stephen Mandel eventually retires, he should become a stage crooner. He was more than comfortable with the microphone in his hand, belting out a carol to welcome Santa to the city.

Though it has been a few years since they brought out the giant switch that “turns on” the lights on the Christmas tree, I kind of miss that over-the-top kitsch. Still, it’s also nice to be a part of a group to collectively marvel over the lovely displays.

Holiday Light-Up on the Square 2012

And it’s on!

As usual, the fireworks were timed to music, emphasizing style over the quantity of poppers. I’ve said this before many times, but I really wish other fireworks shows took a cue from this production – it is always so much more enjoyable than a seemingly random smattering of sparklers.

Holiday Light-Up on the Square 2012


The tree will be lit until early January – so even if you missed the light up, you have several weeks to pay it a visit.

Holiday Light-Up on the Square 2012

Christmas is near…

Kudos to the organizers for another great event!

Christmas on the Square Holiday Light Up 2009

I’ve been looking forward to the Holiday Light Up celebration for a while – with a fireworks show actually choreographed to music, and warmer temperatures than on New Year’s Eve, I wonder why it isn’t the city’s most popular event. And with family-friendly activities precluding the light-up, in addition to City Centre Market vendors, it makes for a great few hours spent in the core.

Christmas carollers on stage

Sleigh rides around City Hall were pretty popular with the children, and the Art Gallery of Alberta had a tent promoting their new logo and grand opening in January 2010. We also checked out the vendors on hand (whose heated tents were better spaced out this year).

Inside the Art Gallery of Alberta tent

Mack as Vanna White

At 5pm, everyone readied for the grand finale – two children, alongside Mayor Mandel and Santa Claus, flipped a giant light switch to power up the Christmas lights. The tree, from Whitecourt, AB, stands at sixty feet, and this year, features animated icicle lights that make it appear as if snow is falling from the tree – pretty neat.

The crowd for the main event

Ready for the light-up

All lit up

The light switch that made it happen

The fireworks that followed were fantastic as expected, with flares and sparks released in time to cymbals crashing and trumpets blaring. If you haven’t yet experienced the show, I would encourage you to attend next year.


Notably missing this year were the small Bright Nights displays that have been a fixture on the Square during the holiday season for the past few years. I guess the cancellation of the Hawrelak Park Bright Nights also meant the necessary retiring of all related decorations. The few inflatable displays they had on the east side of the Square really weren’t the same.

I’m counting down the days to Christmas already, but this was a great event to help kick off the season!

You can see Mack’s photo set here.