Local residents can usher in the holiday season by watching their city's Christmas tree come to life. This weekend, several annual tree lighting ceremonies and a lighted boat parade are being held to bring holiday cheer to the Augusta-Aiken area.
- The City of Aiken Annual Tree-Lighting Ceremony will be held at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Residents can gather for the free event at the center of Laurens Street and Richland Avenue in Aiken.
Mayor Fred Cavanaugh will lead the ceremony, and there will be live music, refreshments, caroling and a special appearance by Santa and Mrs. Claus. For more information, call (803) 642-7631.
- 'Twas the Night Before Lighted Boat Parade begins on the Savannah River at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Jessye Norman Amphitheater. Afterwards, downtown shops and restaurants will remain open until 10 p.m. for First Friday. For more information, call (706) 722-8000.
- The Christmas in America Festival will be Saturday at the Columbia County Amphitheater. The tree lighting ceremony will include music, caroling, food, crafts and a visit from Santa. For more information, call (706) 312-7191.
- The 4th annual The Augusta Chronicle Christmas Light-up Spectacular will be held Saturday at the Augusta Common. Mayor Deke Copenhaver will officially throw the switch and light up downtown Augusta at 6:25 p.m. The lighting of the tree will be followed by a fireworks show.
"The Augusta Chronicle Christmas Light-up Spectacular has certainly become a signature event for the city of Augusta over the past several years, and it is something our entire community looks forward to each and every year," Copenhaver said in a statement. "It is simply an awesome sight to see citizens from all over the area, as well as visitors from out of town, gather at this event to celebrate the spirit of the season."
Prior to the lighting, families can enjoy a day of fun in downtown Augusta. The Miss Augusta Fantasy Parade will kick off the events at 3 p.m. Saturday on Broad Street. After the parade there will be entertainment at the Augusta Common, including a stop at the North Pole where children can write letters to Santa, make ornaments and decorate cookies.
A new addition this year will be the Holiday Market with more than 40 vendors, presented by the Augusta Saturday Market at noon at the Augusta Common.
At 4:30 p.m., Augusta-area Chick-fil-A restaurants will offer free samples at the Augusta Common. There will be giveaways, entertainment for kids and an opportunity to hang out with Chick-fil-A cows.
For more information, visit augustachronicle.com/christmaslightup.