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Celebration of Lights Parade, WinterFest mark the start of the holiday season

WinterFest to expand this year

Celebration of Lights preview
EL PASO, Texas -

The holiday season comes to El Paso earlier this year with several events in Downtown this weekend. 

The Celebration of Lights Parade and the lighting of the Christmas tree on Sunday kicks off the beginning of WinerFest.

The holiday event returns to the borderland for its third edition on November 18 and runs through January  6.

It's a much earlier start to the holiday events than in previous years.

"People can have their families, their friends come over and visit them for the holidays, whether it's Thanksgiving or Christmas. They can come and enjoy downtown," said Joe Rodriguez, special programs manager for El Paso Park and Recreation.

Rodriguez said the attractions and lights will be up for a full 50 days. He said an estimated 500,000 lights are being used this season.

The official program for the Celebration of Lights begins at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday at San Jacinto Plaza with music by the 1st Armored Division Band.
5:00-5:25 p.m. St. Anthony's Seminary Franciscanos Choir

5:55 p.m. Holiday Lighting Ceremony

The parade will follow the lighting ceremony.

At San Jacinto Plaza, visitors can expect to see the traditional nativity scene, but this year its colors are brighter.

Before it was place at the plaza, it was restored by local high school art students.

The students from Bel Air and Del Valle high schools carefully repainted the life-size figures and animals.

In 2016, after public outcry, the nativity scene was brought back San Jacinto.

The city said it had no plans to restore the nativity scene because the newly-renovated plaza had a new theme.

That didn't sit well with many residents, so the city installed it for the holiday season.

This year, organizers said WinterFest will be bigger and brighter.

WinterFest will encompass the downtown area including the Arts Festival Plaza, located between the El Paso Museum of Art and the Plaza Theatre, and the newly renovated Paseo de Las Luces.

WinterFest will once again feature an ice skating rink, a life-size snow globe and holiday-themed food and drinks, officials said. 

Organizers are promising entertainment every Thursday through Sunday of the season at San Jacinto Plaza.

More information on WinterFest is available, click here.


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