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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 Winter Lights Parade and Christmas Tree Lighting is set for 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 3 in Downtown Meridian.

  • The parade will travel down Main Street to Carlton and return on 2nd Street. Roads will be closed at 4 p.m. Friday to accommodate the event.
  • Businesses in Downtown Meridian will stay open later in the evening on Thursday, Dec. 9, for "Shop Meridian Downtown Night," happening from 5 to 9 p.m.
  • 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, parade parking and shuttles, an online map of Christmas lights around the community and a calendar of more events.

Also the night of Dec. 3 is the Weiser Chamber of Commerce Christmas Night Light Parade, starting at 6 p.m.

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.

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 beginning the week of Nov. 22.

The Downtown Boise Christmas Tree was lit after Thanksgiving in The Grove Plaza, but a lighting celebration will 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. The Treasure Valley Night Light Parade starts at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4. It will proceed along Blaine Street between 22nd Ave. and 5th Ave.

Also in downtown Caldwell, get a picture of your child or pet with Santa at Claus for Paws on Saturday, Dec. 4. at the Oakes Brothers Marketplace, located at 718 Main Street, next to Indian Creek Plaza. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Photos cost $5 per pet or child -- 100% of the proceeds from this volunteer-run event go to the West Valley Humane Society.

Eagle Country Christmas is 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, in Heritage Park. Activities include shopping for gifts at the holiday market, taking a picture with Santa and Mrs. Claus and carriage rides through historic Downtown Eagle. There will also be heated tents full of fun activities for kids. Local children's choirs and live bands will perform on the Heritage Park Gazebo Stage. The Eagle Fire District's vintage fire truck will also be making an appearance. It's topped off by the tree-lighting ceremony at 5:30 p.m.

Santa will be in downtown Boise for the next three 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.

Ballet Idaho presents "The Nutcracker," a family holiday classic, Friday, Nov. 26 through Sunday, Dec. 5, at the Velma V. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts.

Children from the Ballet Idaho Academy will take the stage with Ballet Idaho's professional company members, company apprentices, and participants in the trainee program for this production, choreographed by Peter Anastos. The Boise Phil and the Opera Idaho children's choir will provide live musical accompaniment. Costumes and scenery are designed by Margaret Mitchell and Christopher McCollum. Facial coverings must be worn at these performances.

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.

Chanukah, also known as Hanukkah or the Festival of Lights, starts a little earlier than we've typically seen in past years. This year, the eight-day Jewish holiday begins the evening of Sunday, Nov. 28, and concludes the evening of Monday, Dec. 6.

Chabad Lubavich of Idaho has the following on its schedule:

  • Sunday, Nov. 28 in Ketchum: Menorah Lighting in Ketchum Town Square. The first light of the menorah will be lit after 5:10 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 30 in Boise: Chanukah at the Capitol, the annual Grand Menorah lighting with dignitaries and community leaders at the Idaho Statehouse. Three candles on the menorah will be lit after 5:09 p.m.
  • Thursday, Dec. 2 in Boise: Chanukah Bash at Altitude!, 1301 N. Milwaukee Street

Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel will have menorah lightings at its synagogue at 11 Latah Street, Boise. A community celebration is scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5.

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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