The Memorial Holiday Fest is set to unwrap its holiday gift to the community on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
The Memorial Holiday Fest, organized by the Springfield Memorial Foundation, will feature a festive cornucopia of community events and family activities on Saturdays and Wednesday evenings between Nov. 27 and Dec. 22 in its new location in downtown Springfield. The hospital foundation is partnering with Downtown Springfield Inc.’s Old Capitol Holiday Walks on the event, which is a revamping of Memorial’s Festival of Trees that had been held for 30-plus years on the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
“We’re excited to share the Memorial Holiday Fest with our community,” said Melissa Hansen Schmadeke, executive director of the Springfield Memorial Foundation. “Families will discover a host of familiar activities as well as exciting new offerings.”
The theme for the premier holiday event is “A Season for Caring.”
Returning to the Memorial Holiday Fest will be creatively decorated trees on display, peppered throughout downtown in storefronts, restaurants and banks. The public will be able to vote on their favorite trees to name the People’s Choice award. Trees will be on display through the holidays. Wreaths will be on display at the Illinois State Museum, 502 S. Spring St., and student-decorated trees will be spotlighted at INB Conference Center, 431 S. Fourth St.
A map with the location of the trees and other sites will be available on the foundation’s website. Just go to memorial.health/smf and click on events. Maps will also be part of a Downtown Springfield Inc. pamphlet, which can be picked up at local businesses.
Nearly all of the events at the Memorial Holiday Fest will be free. Streets will be closed on Saturdays during the Memorial Holiday Fest. The boundaries are Washington Street to the north, Sixth Street to the east, Monroe Street to the south and Fifth Street to the west. In addition, the east-west Adams Street between Fifth and Sixth streets will be closed.
Visits with Santa Claus will be held on the lawn of the Old State Capitol. Santa will be available from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays. Parents are welcome to take their own photos of their kids with Santa. Visits and photos will follow social distancing and masking guidelines. Children visiting Santa will receive a grab bag of prizes while they last.
The Gingerbread Village will be on display in the lobby of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, 212 N. Sixth St. The museum will extend its hours of operation to 7 p.m. on the Saturdays and Wednesdays of the Memorial Holiday Fest. On those days, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., admission to the museum will be free with a donation of personal care items, which will benefit the Springfield Salvation Army Warming Center.
Families attending the Memorial Holiday Fest can pick up Polar Passports for their children. When they visit four specific destinations, they can receive a stamp on their passports. The four locations are the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the Old State Capitol, Kidzeum and the Illinois State Museum. With all four destinations stamped, children can turn their passports in at the Hoogland Center for the Arts, 402 S. Sixth St., where they’ll be entered into a drawing for free passes to the Kidzeum.
The Hoogland Teens will create a living window display at the Hoogland Center for the Arts based on Disney’s Frozen. It will feature the beloved characters of Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Sven the Reindeer and Kristoff. Times are 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturdays and 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesdays. Carolers will sing outside the Hoogland for individuals dropping off their Polar Passports from the event.
Free carriage rides will be available from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays. People can catch the rides at 1 North Old State Capitol Plaza. Rides leave every 10 minutes. To adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines, only families of four or fewer members can ride together. Carriages are cleaned after each ride.
A Warming Tree will be on display at the downtown YMCA, 701 S. Fourth St., decorated with scarves, hats and mittens. Families in need will be able to take items from the tree. Another tree that you won’t want to miss is built by The Springfield Art Association. It’s a tree made out of books and you can view it at the Lincoln Library, 326 S. Seventh St.
Families can take their kids to several Holiday Fest activities in Kidzeum, 412 E. Adams St. The holiday fest activities are free with paid admission to Kidzeum. Holiday decorations will festoon the courtyard. On the first floor, children can make potholders adorned with their handprints. Times are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays. Other arts and crafts will be available. The Sock Skating Rink will be on the third floor of Kidzeum during the same times.
Downtown Springfield Inc.’s (DSI’s) Old Capitol Holiday Walk is an opportunity for people to visit the downtown and shop and eat in locally owned stores and restaurants, which “pull out all the stops for the most magical time of the year,” said Kayla Graves, DSI’s executive director.
Times are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays. Shoppers can earn “red tickets” for purchases at downtown business, which they can enter for a chance to win up to $1,000. Several stores will set up parklets offering music.
Free parking will be available at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Horace Mann, the Hoogland Center for the Arts and downtown meters. Golf carts will be on hand to assist people with mobility issues from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays. There will also be a shuttle that continuously circles the event area from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays.
The Memorial Holiday Fest is able to offer nearly all of its activities for free and raise funds for Springfield Memorial Foundation, thanks to the support of its sponsors, Hansen Schmadeke said. “We’re all working together to make a really wonderful event for families throughout central Illinois. The downtown will be a great destination during the holidays, and people can also spend time shopping at local businesses or grabbing a meal at one of our great downtown restaurants,” she said.
PNC Bank is the Memorial Holiday Fest’s principal sponsor.