Aurora officially kicks off the holiday season with the annual Winter Lights holiday celebration on Friday, Nov. 16. The evening will also be a time to get a head start on holiday shopping at the Winter Lights Winter Market from 6 to 9 p.m.
Winter Lights Winter Market opens up stores along Downer Place and Stolp Avenue with pop up shops featuring a variety of local artisans and makers.
The market will allow shoppers to buy unique items for the holidays, some made from Fox Valley businesses that might not have a retail location and can only be found at local festivals and markets.
Wheatley Design, owned by Stephanie Wheatley, is one of those businesses. Wheatley works in downtown Aurora at Aurora Fastprint and her growing design business includes popular graphic note cards and posters. Wheatley sells her designs online and at local festivals and markets. On Friday evening, she’ll be set up at All Spoked Up, 14 W. Downer Pl. Suite 12.
A few doors down at Tredwell Coffee, 14 W. Downer Pl. Suite 18, KC Shuma, who lives in downtown Aurora, will be selling her handmade soy candles in recycled bottles. Her business, KC’s Kandles, has become a favorite over the last couple of years at downtown events.
Jenni Zielke, of Aurora, will bring Illuminate Space, her home decor and handmade candle and essential oils business, to Pure Skin Solutions, 26 S. Stolp Ave. Zielke is becoming well known for her custom candle scents and welcoming vignettes.
Next door at Do or Dye Designs, 24 S. Stolp Ave., Lisa Manning from Nido, an art studio on Aurora’s West Side, will have original t-shirts and art. Manning and her husband, Jeff, created Yoga Bones, a popular line of yoga t-shirts. Joining Manning will be Kori Kasper, who owns Branch Gardens on the corner of Benton and Lake streets in downtown Aurora. Kasper will be bringing items from her gift shop along with an assortment of indoor plants.
Pete Carmichael will bring his pop up record shop, All Out Records, to If These Walls Could Talk at 32 S. Stolp Ave. Carmichael, of Aurora, curates an impressive collection of retro records available for sale. Patricia Brown will be a couple of doors down at Collier Community Center, 36 S. Stolp Ave., with her baked goods that include puppy chow and other tasty treats.
Shoppers will also want to stop in at the gift shop located on the first floor of the David L. Pierce Art and History Center, 20 E. Downer Pl., for Aurora t-shirts, ornaments, and other local, one-of-a-kind items.
The evening’s festivities also include a parade along Downer Place that kicks off at 6:30 p.m. followed by a tree lighting adjacent to the G.A.R. Memorial Hall and Museum, and a fireworks display at 7:15 p.m.
Photos with Santa also follow the parade. Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit Wyckwood House, 14 W. Downer Pl. Suite 16. Visitors will enter Tredwell Coffee in order to see the couple on their stop from the North Pole. Wyckwood House is a curated home decor shop that features more than a dozen local vendors.
Visitors are invited to view several Winter Lights window displays in downtown Aurora during the holiday season. Several of the window displays are decorated in the theme “The Merry Downtown of Oz” to celebrate the opening of “The Wizard of Oz” at the Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd. The winning window display will be announced at Winter Lights.
Winter Lights is put on by the city of Aurora’s office of Special Events with assistance from Aurora Downtown, a nonprofit organization of downtown business and property owners.