ASHLAND — For the 30th year, Ashland is lighting up the holiday season with the annual Winter Wonderland of Lights Festival.
Since 1988, the city has attracted thousands to downtown Ashland's 50-acre park in what's become a cherished tradition now passed to a younger generation while remaining beloved by all ages.
The 800,000 lights turned on Monday during opening ceremonies at the Central Park bandstand, which featured local musicians, hot chocolate and cookies, plus a visit from Santa Claus.
The ceremony kicked off a month and a half full of family-friendly actives, sponsored by the Ashland Alliance:
n The annual Christmas parade is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20, in downtown Ashland. The theme of this year's parade is "Christmas - Past, Present and Future." The grand marshal is Marty Brennaman, the voice of the Cincinnati Reds.
n The Winter Wonderland Express train rides will run every weekend beginning Friday, Nov. 16, until it expands from Friday, Dec. 14, through Wednesday, Dec. 20. Rides are $3 a person and run from 6 to 9 p.m.
n Santa will be available for visits and pictures at the Central Park Log House from 6 to 9 p.m. every weekend beginning Friday, Nov. 23, until it expands Dec. 14 through to Dec. 20. Santa will be available but not for professional pictures Thursday, Nov. 22.
n Santa will return for breakfast from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Round House in Central Park. The cost is $3 per adult accompanying a child. The breakfast is sponsored by Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital.
n Santa will take center stage Thursday, Dec. 6, for karaoke and pizza, plus trolley rides around the park, with kindergarten through 8th grade students from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Transportation Center, 99 15th St. This event is sponsored by the Kentucky Farmers Bank and the Ashland Bus System.
n Applications for the home and business decorating contest are due by Dec. 7. Judging will be from Dec. 12-19.