For over 25 years, Placerville has welcomed the holiday season with a special holiday event that celebrates local entertainment, a traditional tree-lighting near the historic Courthouse on Main Street, and a Merchants’ Open House. The Placerville Downtown Association hosts the “Festival of Lights,” always held on the Friday after Thanksgiving. This event takes place in late November, rain or shine.
The “honorary celebrity” at the event is a large, old, light-adorned spruce tree across the street from the historic courthouse that is aglow with colorful lights after the public countdown (conducted by Miss El Dorado and Miss Teen El Dorado) at 6pm. In conjunction with the big tree lighting, over 75 trees that are donated by El Dorado County Christmas Tree Growers also “come to light” after the countdown. These trees are adopted by organizations and individuals through the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce. The tree lighting is followed by a visit from a jolly fellow in a red suit who sets up at River City Bank that evening. Photos will be available, but are not required to visit Santa.
The big holiday welcoming ceremony starts around 5:30PM on Historic Main Street. Clear, cold and dry weather is on the wish list for the Festival. This event features a street closure between the Courthouse and Center Street to host performers in several different performance locations on Main Street. That way, wherever you are on Main Street, there are several chances to enjoy the entertainment. The performances take place at the Courthouse, the Bell Tower, and several other locations. In addition to the entertainment, there are stagecoach rides from Davey “Doc” Wiser and his crew, and this is also the first day of the Merchant's Open House, where visitors can enjoy goodies from merchants, view beautifully decorated windows and rooflines and start their holiday shopping!
The performers at the Festival include groups such as The Dickens Carolers, The Placerville Gold Rush Chorus, El Dorado High School Band, The American River Canyon Sax Quartet, Jammin’ Fitness Dance Group, and several other talented local groups and individuals sharing some holiday cheer. The Placerville Gold Rush Chorus is a group of men that performs their crowd-pleasing style of barbershop harmony. The El Dorado High School Band is excited about participating every year and feature their own interpretations of traditional holiday music. Jammin’ Fitness showcases their various styles of dance to include tap and hip-hop. And the Dickens Carolers are always a treat in Victorian costume with their beautiful vocal harmonies they share with the crowds.
There is so much on tap for this FREE event that you will want to bring the whole family to Main Street to enjoy the Festival! The street is closed to traffic during the event (5pm-8pm). The many public and outlying lots, including the Center Street Garage and the Ivy House lot at Main and Cedar Ravine, are available for parking, too. Please do not park in private lots that are posted.
Shops and restaurants stay open late for the festivities and the Merchants Open House.