BIDDEFORD — Ice carving, a treasure hunt, a youth art show, a tree lighting ceremony and, of course, a visit from Old St. Nick are among the highlights of the annual Downtown Holiday Festival set for Friday.

Much of the activity, as in the past, will take place in City Square, located near City Hall at the intersection of Main and Adams streets.

But there will be other activities, like a treasure hunt from 6-7 p.m. that encourages people to walk throughout the downtown to collect treasures throughout the area as well as view the decorated storefronts created by the Heart of Biddeford’s Design Committee for the 12 Days of Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, Yule, and Kwanzaa.

The festival, coordinated by the downtown revitalization organization the Heart of Biddeford, will be held in conjunction with the Biddeford + Saco ArtWalk. In addition to performances and hot cocoa, many new and existing businesses will be open selling their wares and as art venues.

The Heart of Biddeford puts on a number of events throughout the year.

“But this event more than other events focuses on our community and bringing our community together,” said HOB Executive Director Delilah Poupore.

People have commented in the past that the festival provides an opportunity to see people they haven’t seen in a while or meet new people as they walk through the downtown, she said.

“They say it feels like the old days,” said Poupore.

“All events are free and open and welcome to everybody,” she added.

In addition to celebrating the holidays, said Poupore, the purpose of the downtown festival is to “promote the downtown” and to reintroduce people to businesses they haven’t seen in a while as well as new businesses.

“This year, there are more businesses than ever before that will be open Friday night for the celebration,” she said.

Activities for children begin in the afternoon with cookie decorating from 3-5 p.m. at Reilly’s Bakery and, at the same time, a youth art show and reception at City Hall, hosted by the non-profit arts organization Engine.

Evening festivities for all ages begin at 5 p.m. at the City Square stage. Performances include holiday songs by the Biddeford Intermediate School Choir, selections from the Academy of Dance’s “Children’s Nutcracker Holiday Show,” and a McArthur Library holiday story.

At 5:45 p.m., Santa arrives at City Square and Mayor Alan Casavant lights the tree.

There will be a treasure hunt from 6-7 p.m. Maps will be handed out so people can explore the downtown and volunteers will be on hand assisting people and handing out treasures. There will also be free sleigh rides, hot cocoa and s’mores.

Finally, from 7-7:30 p.m. people can return to City Square for Treasure Hunt prizes and to view a spectacular ice carving show featuring Murray of Wicked Good Ice.

In addition, from 5-7 p.m. Ocean Communities Federal Credit Union will hold a party with radio station Coast 93.1 and the Grahamtastic Connection. Ocean Communities is attempting to raise money to purchase a laptop and get a year of Internet access for an ill student.

There are no festivities on Saturday, but people are encouraged to shop for holiday gifts in the downtown as part of Small Business Saturday and “Shop Mom & Pop” Day.

For more information, visit the Heart of Biddeford website, heartofbiddeford.org, or call 284-8520.



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