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Treasure Valley holiday event guide 2021

It's time to light the lights. Also, Santa Claus is taking visitors by appointment this year.
Credit: KTVB
Winter Garden aGlow at the Idaho Botanical Gardens is open to the public during the Thanksgiving holiday.

BOISE, Idaho — Events ringing in the holiday season in the Treasure Valley are just around the corner. Whether you celebrate a specific holiday like Christmas or Chanukah, or just love the season in general, this guide is designed to help you find something to do.

Some events are free, but some do charge admission. Also, some are taking visitors by reservation or appointment to ensure physical distancing as the spread of COVID-19 continues to be a concern. We're connecting you with more of those details through the links for each event, where available.

The Kuna Night Light Parade starts at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11, in Bernie Fisher Park. It's part of the Down Home Country Christmas, which also includes the lighting of the Kuna Christmas Tree at Kuna Market Village. The lighting will take place after the parade.

Meridian's Winter Lights Parade and Christmas Tree Lighting took place Friday, Dec. 3 in Downtown Meridian. Other Christmas in Meridian events and activities continue.

  • A mailbox for letters to Santa is set up in the plaza outside Meridian City Hall. Children who drop off their letters by Dec. 19 will receive a personal response.
  • The Christmas in Meridian website has more information about the city's events, an online map of Christmas lights around the community and a calendar of more events.

Scentsy Commons Christmas Lights: Scentsy Commons, at Eagle Rd. and Pine Ave. in Meridian, is aglow with a dazzling light display, which includes a 75-foot Christmas tree with a ribbon of light that changes color, and a light tunnel you can walk through. In all, the number of lights totals more than 887,000. Maybe you've noticed the lights while driving down one of Idaho's busiest thoroughfares and wondered, "can you just go walk around and take a look any time?" Yes, yes you can! There's no charge, and the lights are on from sunset to sunrise through January 16, 2022. Coming up Dec. 14, 15 and 16 is the Scentsy Points of Lights event from 6 to 8 p.m. each night. This free event includes performances from local high school and community choirs, refreshments, a visit from Santa, Clyde the Camel and a live Nativity. All of this is entirely outdoors, so dress warm. Scentsy's building is closed at night, but porta-potties are available. 

Also free: horse-drawn carriage rides on Fridays and Saturdays in downtown Boise, courtesy of Washington Trust Bank. They're offered from 4 to 8 p.m. Dec. 10, 11, 17 and 18 on a first-come, first-served basis, starting at the corner of 9th and Bannock streets. 

There is some disappointing news for those who look forward to the annual Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting at the Idaho Statehouse. Governor Brad Little's office said there will be no ceremony this year, virtual or in person.

"The decision was made (in October), when hospitals were at a breaking point with COVID patients," according to a statement from the Governor's Office. "However, Governor Little and First Lady Teresa Little still invite and encourage Idahoans to come by the Capitol in the weeks ahead to enjoy all the decorations and festivities of the season."

The Idaho State Capitol's Christmas Tree and other decorations are at the statehouse for viewing.

The Downtown Boise Christmas Tree was lit after Thanksgiving in The Grove Plaza, but a lighting celebration did not take place this year.

For many, taking the kids to see Santa Claus at the mall is another annual tradition.

Several events and activities are being offered over the next two months at The Village at Meridian, which kicked off the season Thursday, November 18, with the annual tree lighting and Santa arrival event. 

Also at The Village:

  • Santa opened his house the morning of Friday, Nov. 19 to welcome children and their families in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Reservations are required this year. For Santa's "office hours" at The Village, and to make a reservation, go to this website.
  • Next to Santa's house in Fountain Square will be a magical mailbox where children can drop off their letters and wish lists for Santa.
  • Storytime with Santa's helpers takes place Mondays at 11:30 a.m. and 12 p.m. in the Village Cinema Lobby.
  • Fifteen snowmen are hiding around The Village now through the month of December, daring visitors to find them in the Snowman Scavenger Hunt. Scavenger hunt checklists are available at the concierge desk. Participants are asked to bring back completed checklists for a complimentary gift while supplies last.
  • The Village's ice-skating rink is open now through January. Visitors can make reservations for 30-minute blocks on The Village website.
  • Fireworks Skating Academy is offering Learn to Skate classes for all ages and levels weekly Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Visitors can sign up online.

At Boise Towne Square, the Handmade Idaho Holiday Shop is now open for the season. Also, visitors can take a picture with Santa each day Nov. 19 through Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, in the mall's Center Court. Reservations are encouraged. More information is available here. Monday nights are Pet Nights with Santa.

During this season of giving, Boise Towne Square is also hosting Salvation Army Angel Trees. The trees are located at the bottom of the Food Court escalators. Choose a tag, shop for that special gift request and deliver the gift to The Salvation Army office located at 9492 W. Emerald Street, less than a mile west of the mall. The gifts will go to children or senior adults registered with the Salvation Army.

Now until the first week of January, more than one million lights cover trees, buildings and bridges all over downtown Caldwell for Winter Wonderland. Indian Creek Plaza is also home to a singing Christmas tree and Idaho's only ice ribbon. Click here for information about ice skating, parking and downtown Caldwell businesses.

Santa will be in downtown Boise for the three December Saturdays leading up to Christmas as part of the Downtown Boise Association's Holidays in the City festivities. Santa's hours and guidelines are as follows:

  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, Dec. 4, 11 and 18.
  • Located at D.L. Evans Bank Downtown Branch, 9th and Main streets
  • Visits are on first-come, first-served basis
  • Bring camera or phone to take your own pictures
  • Dress warmly, in the event that a line forms outside
  • Visits socially distanced; masks required for anyone over the age of two years old
  • Event supports Women's and Children's Alliance - donations welcome and appreciated

Winter Garden Aglow opens Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25, at the Idaho Botanical Garden. As was the case in 2020, this year's event will use timed ticketing, and tickets must be purchased in advance. Now, the good stuff you'll find at Winter Garden Aglow: holiday music, free coffee and hot cocoa, warming barrels, the Treehouse and Enchanted Forest, and hundreds of thousands of sparkling lights all over the garden Winter Garden Aglow will be open from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, Nov. 25 through Dec. 31.

Boise Ballet Academy performs "The Nutracker" at the Nampa Civic Center

  • Dec. 17 at 7 p.m.; Dec. 18 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. (click or tap links for each performance's ticket information)
  • All performances will be in the Nampa Civic Center's John Brandt Performing Arts Theater
  • From the Nampa Civic Center: "Please join us for a magical performance where the next generation of talented dancers show case their technique and artistry. The classical tale is brought to life by more than 80 dancers in spectacular costumes. Ring in the holiday season with this wonderful tradition suitable for all ages!"

The inaugural 2C Cowboy Christmas takes place Friday, Dec. 17, and Saturday, Dec. 18, at the O'Connor Fieldhouse in Caldwell, featuring western-themed vendors. Hours are Noon to 6 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. It's co-hosted by Caldwell Night Rodeo and O'Connor Fieldhouse.

This event guide will change as the holiday season continues, and will be updated as we gather and receive information about events.

If you know of something you didn't see listed here, send us an email at ktvbnews@ktvb.com.

Finally, check out the KTVB events calendar for things to do all year long.

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