If you want to get the whole experience of Wichita’s downtown Christmas tree lighting this year, come prepared to travel.
The annual Mayor’s Tree Lighting event, which is scheduled for Sunday evening, will happen in Old Town Square, Second and Mead. But all the festivities that surround it – including food trucks and a big fireworks show – will happen a mile away at the Wichita Boathouse, 515 S. Wichita.
The mayor's tree lighting, a visit from Santa, Lights on the River and fireworks all welcomed in the holiday season. (Video by Kelsey Ryan / The Wichita Eagle / Dec. 4, 2016)
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The city will run trolley rides from 5 to 9 p.m. that will transport people back and forth.
In the past, the official tree lighting was centered on a decorated artificial tree at Century II’s Kennedy Plaza with a visit from Santa and a fireworks show immediately following. Activities were set up inside Century II.
Though the traditional artificial tree will still be set up at Century II and also will be lighted on Sunday, along with all the downtown decorations, a 20-foot-tall fresh tree was put up earlier this week in Old Town Square and will be the tree that Mayor Jeff Longwell lights at 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Meanwhile, several activities will be setup at the Wichita Boathouse. Starting at 4 p.m., people there can take winter wagon rides, snack at a S’mores station, hear music from a DJ and order food from local food trucks. Santa will appear there at 4 p.m.
At 5:30 p.m., trolleys will arrive to transport people a mile east to Old Town Square for the 6 p.m. lighting. The Old Town Square event also will include a performance by the Newman Troubadours.
The trolleys will return to Old Town Square at 6:30 p.m. to begin transporting people back to the WaterWalk, where they need to be by 7 p.m. to participate in a Lights on the River launch put on by Wichita Clean Streams. The group will sell people special floating lights for $5 and at 7 p.m. will invite them to drop the lights in the river at the Lewis Street bridge. The current should carry the lights to Kellogg, where they’ll be retrieved from the river and reunited with their owners. Lights will be for sale at the Wichita Boathouse until 6:30 p.m.
At 7:30 p.m., a “Spectacular Fireworks Show” will begin.
Admission to the events is free.
Hundreds attended the final night of Botanica's Illuminations on Saturday, New Year's Eve. (Dec. 31, 2016)
Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting event
What: A lighting of the Mayor’s tree in Old Town Square plus other Christmas events and a fireworks show at a separate location
When: 4 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Old Town Square and the Wichita Boathouse
More info: https://wichitacleanstreams.com/
Schedule at a glance:
4 p.m.: S’mores stations, wagon rides and food trucks start at Wichita Boathouse
5 p.m.: Santa will appear at the Wichita Boathouse
5:30 p.m.: Trolleys will arrive to begin transporting people to Old Town Square
6 p.m.: Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in Old Town Square
6:30 p.m. Trolleys will begin returning people to the Wichita Boathouse
7 p.m.: Lights on the River launches at the Lewis Street Bridge
7:30 p.m. Fireworks show begins over the Arkansas River