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All lit up

Ashland celebrates the holiday season
Courtesy photo Downtown Ashland is all lit up for the Christmas holiday season.

Camera! Lights! Christmas!

Ashland is all lit up for the holidays with more than a million lights turning the Plaza and downtown into a magical Christmas fairyland.

The Ashland Chamber of Commerce launched its annual Festival of Light celebration with the spectacular Grand Illumination Nov. 18. But it doesn’t end there.

Even though there will be no parade this year and Santa is still in quarantine, numerous events and promotions are planned throughout the season, designed to add fun and excitement for holiday shoppers. A brand-new event, Soundwalk, will add to the festivities.

Many local businesses will have Small Business Saturday specials Nov. 27 and participate in Giving Tuesday Nov. 30. The global initiative kicks off the charitable season, and participating merchants will donate a share of sales to local charities and organizations that day.

“We want people to experience the magic of the holidays in Ashland,” said Dana Preston, membership and business development director for the chamber. “Come explore, shop local, taste the flavors, and find your holiday spirit in our season of celebration.”

The festival attracts visitors as well as locals, providing a boost for Ashland eateries, shops, hotels and B&Bs.

Ashland all dressed up for the holidays has attracted national attention. “You can spot our lovely downtown in numerous Hallmark Channel movies throughout the season,” Preston said.

“We absolutely love the Festival of Light parade and are very excited to bring it back when we are able,” Preston said.

Soundwalk

New for 2021 is a partnership with Rogue World Music for a winter-themed Soundwalk.

“Soundwalk is a curated audio track featuring music from cultures around the world connected to the November-January season,” Preston said.

It will guide listeners through the festive downtown Ashland cityscape along a set path of visual installations from Nov. 26 to Jan 6. Participation is free.

Ice Skating

Ashland Parks and Recreation will add to the holiday fun with its outdoor ice-skating rink at 95 Winburn Way, across the street from the Lithia Park playground.

The Ashland Rotary Centennial Ice Rink will open Nov. 20. The annual First Frost event Dec. 18 will feature live music and figure skating performances.

“Because of staff shortages, we are looking at running rec skate Thursday through Sunday from 4 to 9 p.m.,” said Lonny Flora, city recreation manager. “And on Saturday and Sunday, we will also have hockey skate in the mornings, starting at 8 a.m.”

The rink will be used Monday through Wednesday for skating lessons, including youth hockey sessions.

Love Ashland Local

The Love Ashland Local Campaign will reward people for shopping at home. Shoppers who spend $5 or more at an Ashland business (in person or on their websites) can submit the receipt via text and have a chance to win one of the $100 weekly gift certificate prizes awarded from Nov. 28 through Dec. 25.

The campaign began Nov. 15. To join, text the word “SHOP” to 541-482-3486. See the chamber’s website for more details and the rules of the campaign.

Strong believers in the mantra “shop at home,” chamber members encourage locals to support hometown businesses in order to save time, gas and money. For many people, it’s the natural thing to do, to build their own community instead of somebody else’s.

Gift Certificates

Can’t figure out what to get for somebody on your Christmas list? No problem. The chamber offers gift certificates in several denominations as part of its holiday promotion. They can be purchased online at ashlandchamber.com. The office is open 10-3 Monday through Friday.

“Every year this program grows and grows,” Preston said. “Last year, between the pandemic and the fire response, we saw more than double the sales of gift certificates than in previous years.”

The chamber has been contacted already by several organizations planning to buy gift certificates.

“They make great holiday gifts and are redeemable at more than 40 locations in Ashland,” Preston said. “They’re a great way to keep our dollars local.”

Certificates can be mailed to the purchaser or the recipient. To purchase certificates with a check or cash, call 541-482-3486, at which time a pickup day and time can be arranged.

Elf Extravaganza

Last year’s Rudolph Scavenger Hunt was a hit with families. This year it’s the Elf Extravaganza, another scavenger hunt, but this year with an elf theme.

Game cards will be available on the chamber website. Families will be asked to find hidden elves all throughout town and win prizes.

Shop Ashland Website

The ShopAshlandOregon.com website was launched last year, allowing local businesses to showcase their holiday goods on a community online platform, with links to the stores’ own websites.

The project has wide participation again this year. The chamber developed new back-end tools that make the site more user-friendly for participating businesses.

In addition to local advertising, the chamber will use social media to spread the word. A strategic paid social media campaign will also introduce the Ashland Chamber’s new Instagram handle, @ShopAshlandOregon, which will include contests throughout the month of December.

For more information and updates, go to ashlandchamber.com.