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Winterfest returns: Annual event to be held Nov. 19
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Winterfest returns: Annual event to be held Nov. 19

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Winterfest will return to Council Bluffs.

The City of Council Bluffs and its partners will host Winterfest at Bayliss Park from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 19. The city noted it will again partner with the Council Bluffs Public Library, The 712 Initiative, Union Pacific Museum and Pottawattamie Arts, Culture & Entertainment (PACE) to stage this Council Bluffs holiday tradition.

“Winterfest is our annual lighting ceremony in Bayliss Park,” Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh said in a release. “What started as a simple countdown in 2015 has grown into a well-attended festival that makes you feel like you’re on a holiday movie set.”

Organizers canceled Winterfest in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there was a light display at Bayliss Park and a holiday lights tour.

“After a year away, I’m excited to be back at Winterfest,” the release cheekily reported Santa Claus, Winterfest guest of honor, as saying. “My scroll is more than ready to record this year’s wishes.”

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The main event at Winterfest is the Bayliss Park Lighting Ceremony. At 6:30 p.m., Santa Claus and Mayor Walsh lead the crowd in a song of Jingle Bells followed by a countdown, after which Bayliss Park is illuminated with more than 40,000 twinkle lights.

The 2021 Winterfest merriments include the traditional favorites plus a few new additions. The Council Bluffs Public Library is bringing real reindeer into Bayliss Park and offering reindeer-themed arts, crafts and literacy festivities. Also new is a live ice sculpture demonstration presented by PACE. And for the first time, the Union Pacific Museum is lighting its building with a festive display and gifting light-up jewelry to kids.

The 712 Initiative is hosting the Makers Village again, offering the opportunity to shop unique handmade holiday gifts from local vendors in a pop-up market on Pearl Street. Food trucks will be present with concessions available for purchase.

Thanks to The Salvation Army, free hot chocolate will be available. Traditional festivities include live music from the Salvation Army brass ensemble, traveling Dickens carolers, an outdoor screening of a holiday classic, balloon art, face painting, crafts and several jolly photo ops.

“We hope you can join us for the moment Bayliss Park transforms into a wonderland, and stay awhile to shop, dine, and enjoy the celebrations,” Walsh said.

All Winterfest activities are free to the public. Items from the food truck and Makers Village will be available for purchase. Find the Winterfest at Bayliss Park event on Facebook @CityofCB.

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