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Holiday happenings in downtown Birmingham

It's beginning to look like the holidays in downtown Birmingham. From twinkling lights adorning trees throughout the city, to carriage rides, the city's popular Winter Markt, the tree lighting and of course, the arrival of Santa, it's all available to visitors in downtown Birmingham.

“Downtown Birmingham is a place where people come from near and far to enjoy a picturesque and quaint atmosphere during a truly magical time of year,” said Ingrid Tighe, executive director, Birmingham Shopping District. “In addition to special holiday events ranging from an outdoor European-style market to horse-drawn carriage rides, the city offers a perfect location for shoppers and diners to enjoy a quiet walk through the illuminated tree-lined streets of Birmingham.”

Tighe said that crews have been hard at work installing white lights to nearly 400 trees all over downtown Birmingham. “This holiday season, visitors will enjoy nearly 800,000 lights throughout town,” she said. “In addition, the city's 35-foot blue spruce holiday tree boasts an additional 22,000 LED lights. The tree complements the glowing downtown area and creates the perfect scene for a holiday stroll and a festival backdrop for photos.”

The holiday season gets its official shopping start with Small Business Saturday on Saturday, November 24. Originally a shopping incentive to get shoppers to visit small, local stores created by American Express as an antidote to Black Friday, it's now a national business day. In Birmingham, those who shop local and support Birmingham during Small Business Saturday can earn Birmingham Bonus Bucks and find unique gifts for everyone on their list.

Also on Saturday, November 24, is the Birmingham Santa Walk at 9:30 a.m. New this year, Small Business Saturday will kick off with an inaugural Birmingham Santa Walk, where children of all ages are invited to welcome Santa to Birmingham during a celebration complete with ringing sleigh bells, stops at lots of stores with giveaways, all ending up at Santa's House in Shain Park.

On weekends throughout the holiday season, children are invited to visit Santa at the Santa House under the pavilion in Shain Park. Brand new this year, an illuminated archway will lead the way to Santa.

Visitors can also enjoy complimentary horse-drawn carriage rides throughout downtown Birmingham.

The Birmingham Tree Lighting will be held on Friday, November 30, at 6 p.m., to coincide with the opening night of Winter Markt. Winter Markt, in Birmingham's Shain Park, will be held Friday, November 30, through Sunday, December 2.

Attendees will enjoy stations filled with European food and drinks, gift items, holiday greens, crafts, ice carving demonstrations, live reindeer, warming stations, the always popular Santa Haus, horse-drawn carriage rides, and live entertainment. Shoppers are encouraged to stop by the Kinder Haus children’s activity area where you’ll find complimentary crafts.

Topping off the excitement in Birmingham this holiday season, visitors will enjoy free two-hour valet parking from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at two locations: North Old Woodward at Hamilton, and South Old Woodward (in front of Vinotecca), plus two free hours in the parking decks.

A schedule for Santa House and carriage rides are available at For information on Winter Markt, visit

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