One of our favorite holiday traditions, the Holiday Lighting Festival, is this weekend. The annual free event features music, food, performances, a toy drive, and various other holiday activities. Happening simultaneously to the Holiday Lighting Festival is Wassail Weekend. Dozens of local shops extend their hours and welcome patrons to sample their wassail, a hot cider-like beverage. Wassail Weekend On Friday evening the Downtown Denton square will be shut down to traffic to make way for wassail-guzzling pedestrians to walk around and enjoy all of the festivities. You'll find us circled 'round the tree like the Whos down in Whoville, holding hands and singing with joy. We're not sure who the Grinch is in this situation, though.
If you plan on coming out to sample the wassail and find the joy of the holiday in your cold, black heart, here are our tips and tricks to making sure you get to squeeze as much holiday cheer out of the event as possible.
Make your voice heard by voting for your favorite wassail. Your vote counts and there will be no recounts. There will be over 40 different wassail stops participating over the weekend, so plenty of a-wassailing may be had on Friday. Some places have boozey wassail, so have your ID on hand and keep your eye out for places with two wassail buckets. You can vote for your favorite wassail using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the hashtags assigned to each individual stop. Each stop will have a sign and lists will be posted during Wassail Weekend. Check out the full list of venders participating in Wassail Weekend in the image at the bottom of this post.
Check out the annual Toy Drive! Bring an unwrapped new gift with you to donate. These gifts are going to kids who may not other wise have anything under the tree on Christmas morning. More info on this event (put on by First Baptist Denton's Elves Shelves group) can be found here.
Make sure to check out the “A Very Merry Denton” Holiday Spectacular. The music performance will put a cap to the event at the Performance Stage (at the corner of Oak and Elm) from 8 - 9:30pm.
Did you know that there are commemorative ornaments for sale each year?! You can buy them online, or pick up a few at the information table on the lawn. Your tree probably needs one of 'em.
The Courthouse Museum will be open late, and the courthouse is beautifully decorated for the season. If you have a chance peek in and see how great the inside of the courthouse looks all dressed up.
Parking on this particular night can often be a beast. We recommend parking on the outskirts of the square, or even a few blocks away at The DIME Store or SCRAP. Both of which will be serving up hot wassail, as well. An even better option would be to walk or bike from home. If you live far away, take take the train! Word on the street is that DCTA is offering free rides for those that know the secret password of "jingle bells." Seriously.
Brave Combo is playing Andy's after the festival. The show will be great and will get you off the square after the initial exodus. You can also check out some holiday tunes provided by the students from Denton Music Workshop at Andy's earlier in the evening.
Mourn the loss of Krampus from the event. The demon-like anti-Santa of European folklore used to hand out toys to the good boys and girls during the Holiday Lighting, but has since been barred from attending. Read more about Krampus here.
The sidewalks themselves tend to get a little crowded. Watch out for kiddos underfoot and don't worry if you get bumped a little - just be careful! We're all drinking hot drinks out there and some people may be carrying swords or other sharp objects that they've purchased from the mini mall! If you plan on having wee ones with you, have an agreed upon meeting place in case you get separated.
The lines at bars and coffee shops can get a little out of control. We have a feeling that the wait at Barley and Board will jump from 15 minutes to much much longer, so maybe make a reservation on Open Table ahead of time. They have a delicious new menu, by the way. Wassail and kettle corn don't make a well-balanced meal, y'all.
The Denton Holiday Lighting Festival is this Friday, December 1st, 2017 from 5:30 - 9:30 p.m. Wassail Weekend is happening on both Friday and Saturday evenings. Find out more information at the Denton Holiday Lighting Festival's Facebook page.