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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Kingsville kicks-off annual Fantasy of Lights with ‘Christmas Magic’

Updated: Dec 6, 2023




by Sylene Argent, Local Journalism Initiative

photos submitted

With over 70 floats – and with residents lining the parade route that wound through downtown Kingsville before landing at Lakeside Park – the annual, multi-week Fantasy of Lights celebration kicked-off on Saturday evening, with a touch of “Christmas Magic.”

  Kingsville Mayor Dennis Rogers was pleased to see the community come together to enjoy the annual, and much-anticipated parade. Though a spectacle on its own, the parade – with its “Christmas Magic” theme – was just the start of the holiday fun planned for that evening, and what will be offered over the weeks to come.

  After the parade, residents were able to gather at Lakeside Park to participate in the Fantasy of Lights opening ceremony, with the opportunity to warm up inside Lakeside Park Pavilion with a cup of free hot chocolate, enjoy caroling, and visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

  They were also able to get a first peek at the hundreds of holiday-theme light fixtures set up inside Lakeside Park, when the official switch was flipped.

  Rogers noted the evening had perfect weather for an outdoor holiday event. It was fun, he added, to welcome Santa and Mrs. Claus to town, and see all the local youngsters beam with excitement at the site.

  “It was a great day,” he said.

  Saturday’s Fantasy of Lights parade and opening ceremony – in addition to the long list of events to come in the coming weeks – would not be possible without the dedication of the members of the Fantasy of Lights Steering Committee, which plans the holiday events well in advance of Santa’s initial visit, and the countless volunteers, who offer a hand.

  “We are blessed to have the volunteers,” he said of those dedicated to hosting the events for the community. The annual Fantasy of Lights program is a “highlight for us.”

  He also thanked the community for supporting the event year-after-year, and Town of Kingsville staff members for their commitment to ensuring the Fantasy of Lights events are top notch.  

  “Events like this instill civic pride,” Rogers said. “Residents are proud of it.”

  The annual Kingsville Fantasy of Lights celebration will continue until Wednesday, January 3, 2024. Every evening, the light fixtures will illuminate at Lakeside Park. In addition, the Kingsville Express train rides will take place on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays until December 23, from 5:30 - 8:30pm at Lakeside Park This will give families a fun opportunity to keep Christmas cheer strong over the coming weeks.

  Volunteers run the Kingsville Express, and it does require favourable weather to operate. There is a small fee to enjoy the ride.

  The Fantasy of Lights event will offer a family-friendly concert series at Lakeside Park Pavilion, sponsored and hosted by the Kingsville Music Society. 

The Friday evening concerts are scheduled to take place on December 8, with the Laughtertainer Christmas Puppet Show at 6pm, and Julian Rodriguez with a Mexican Christmas Celebration at 7pm.

On December 15, Colin Gronert Band (Jazzy Christmas) is scheduled for 6pm, and on December 22, Mary and Richard (Christmas Hits) are scheduled to perform at 6pm.

  The Christmas Artisan Market is also scheduled to take place at Lakeside Park Pavilion on Saturday, December 2, 2023 from 2pm to 8pm and on Sunday, December 3, from 10am to 4pm, giving residents and visitors a chance to support local vendors selling an array of homemade and unique gifts.

In addition, the Paws and Claus Marketplace on Tuesday, December 5, from 6-8pm, will offer the opportunity for residents to have their pet get their picture taken with Santa. During this event, pet-friendly vendors will be onsite.

Donations raised will help offset the cost of the Fantasy of Lights events. 

  On Saturday, December 9, from 10am to 1pm, the Kingsville Optimist Club will host the Crafts with Santa event at Lakeside Park Pavilion. 

  Residents will be able to celebrate the start of 2024 during the Fantasy of Lights New Year’s Eve Firework show and free skating event. Attendees will be able to enjoy free skating – thanks to sponsorship from Pathway to Potential – hot chocolate, and crafts at the Kingsville Arena on December 31, from 4:30-6:50pm. At 7pm, fireworks will celebrate an end to 2023 and welcome 2024.

To learn more, log onto www.kingsville.ca/en/explore-and-play/fantasy-of-lights.aspx, or email specialevents@kingsville.ca if interested in becoming a volunteer or would like to inquire about being a vendor.

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