Lighting of the Lights, downtown holiday market a go for Friday

People enjoying the holiday lights in Victoria Park. File photo courtesy of the City of London.

Getting into the holiday spirit won’t be hard for Londoners come Friday.

The city will be flipping the switch on the traditional festive lights in Victoria Park and kicking off a new holiday artisan market.

The annual Lighting of the Lights celebrations at the downtown park will begin at 6:15 p.m. with live entertainment. The performances will be followed by the illumination of more than 75,000 bulbs that have been strung around the park’s trees, light standards, and bandshell.

“Lighting of the Lights is a longstanding tradition dating back to 1958 that marks the official start of the holiday season in London,” Mayor Josh Morgan said in a statement. “My family and I are looking forward to seeing Victoria Park transform into a Winter Wonderland, illuminated with festive lights and displays for Londoners to enjoy through the holiday season. We hope to see you there.”

Among the displays returning to the park are Santa and his reindeer, the Christmas train, and the snowmen family. Santa’s Mailbox will also be back on-site for children to mail their wish list to the North Pole.

The lights officially come on at 6:50 p.m. Friday. After that they will be on nightly from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. until the end of February.

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Londoners will be able to take in the most popular birds-eye view of the holiday lights. City officials have announced the reopening of city hall’s observation deck on the 12th floor of 300 Dufferin Ave. It has not been open to the public since 2019. The observation deck will be open each Thursday to Sunday from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. until the end of December.

People wanting to skate in the park will have to wait another week. Weather permitting, the city plans on opening the park’s outdoor skating rink on December 9. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

New this year is the three-week long Holly Jolly Market at the Covent Garden Market. It opens at noon on Friday and will run every Thursday to Sunday until December 18. Visitors can take in light displays and live music, shop at various artisan and food vendors and sip hot chocolate or a beverage from the cocktail garden in front of the fire pits surrounding the giant Christmas tree erected in Rotary Square. The market also includes a children’s zone and is the new home of Santa’s House, which made the move from Victoria Park to Covent Garden in the summer.

A free horse-drawn carriage will also be available to shuttle people between Victoria Park and the Covent Garden Market on Thursdays and Sundays.