The Denton Holiday Lighting Festival is getting a little fancier this year.

The festival association isn’t fixing what isn’t broken. Downtown Denton’s annual holiday event still has the Denton Community Band launching the party with a big band singalong. The famous Christmas tree will still light up, and the Square will be awash in music, seasonal finds and wassail.

But there are some innovations for the Dec. 6 event: an ice skating rink (all the time slots are reserved, but organizers said no-shows will have their times opened for visitors), a giant snow globe where attendees can walk in, snap a picture, then post it to their social media, and a brand-new VIP package.

“We’re trying to get more people engaged in giving to the festival, and we’re trying to get more corporate donors,” said Brooke Moore, a member of the festival association. “If corporations give at a certain level, they get tickets for their employees. And for individuals, the VIP packages have perks.”

VIP packages admit two adults — children get in for free. At $150, the package includes: a reserved parking spot in the First State Bank Exchange at NCTC Denton garage; Santa Claus meet-and-greet and photos before the festival kicks off; catered food and two drink tickets; arts and crafts for the kids; the festival’s 2019 ornament; and two T-shirts.

Michelle Boerst, president of the Denton Holiday Lighting Festival Association, said the new additions are part of the nonprofit’s plan to expand the event, which is also the launch of Wassail Weekend, a contest that has locals and visitors sample hot spiced cider (without the alcohol) made by downtown merchants and groups.

“We’re working with Denton County Friends of the Family, which does the Holiday Express train ride, and Wassail Weekend to have this be more than a one-day thing. The ice skating rink is kind of a trial run,” Boerst said.

Moore said the association has been talking about ways to bring more activities for families at the lighting.

“But it’s important to have things people can do with their kids and still have it be free,” Moore said. “There are some things that cost money, but the idea is for people to be able to bring their kids and not have it cost money.”

Vendors will continue to sell holiday-themed goods and items, or offer activities for children. And the festival will include the food truck park on Austin Street.

Boerst said the festival has become one of the most well-attended events on the Square.

“Since 2010, we’ve grown by about 2,000 people a year,” Boerst said. “With the skating rink, which will be in Williams Square, I wouldn’t be shocked if we top out at 20,000.”

Williams Square is the lot behind the apartment complex next to Rusty Tacos on Hickory Street.

The welcome and lighting of the Christmas tree will be officiated by Mrs. DFW Jamie Anderson.

To make way for the festival and the skating rink, drivers will need to move their cars from the downtown Square and Williams Square on the evening of Thursday, Dec. 5. The streets will close at 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6. Vehicles left at Williams Square will be towed.

LUCINDA BREEDING can be reached at 940-566-6877 and via Twitter at @LBreedingDRC.

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