Victorian Festival of Christmas kicks off with Fall into Holiday Shop Small weekend

A young visitor greets Santa and Mrs. Claus during a previous Victorian Festival of Christmas Living Windows celebration in Historic Downtown Hannibal. This year's holiday festivities begin with the Fall into Holiday Shop Small weekend events on from Friday, Nov. 19 to Sunday, Nov. 21.

HANNIBAL — Hannibal’s annual tradition of the Victorian Festival of Christmas is back in its full splendor for 2021, with various activities to celebrate Shop Small weekend, beginning with the Pink Friday sip and shop event from 4-7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19.

The Pink Friday event is hosted by Historic Downtown Hannibal’s boutiques, and it marks the beginning of the Shopping Preview Weekend. During the weekend, musical performance, samples and holiday shopping opportunities from Historic Downtown Hannibal’s including various gifts, art, vintage finds, coffee, chocolate and offerings from pubs. Katy Welch, who leads the Victorian Festival of Christmas committee and is the owner of Java Jive, said she was thrilled with the chance to have a full slate of activities and start the festival one week earlier.

Welch said there are several new businesses joining the festivities, and “everybody’s on board.” She said things were more closed down for 2020, and everyone is looking forward to presenting all of the magic of the holiday season.

“This year feels like the first year to be fully back since COVID. I feel like merchants are more excited and people are more eager for the Christmas stuff,” she said, noting the staff at Java Jive began making Christmas cookies for fun, and they were extremely well-received by customers. “I think everybody in general is just ready to enjoy the holiday season this year. It’s exciting.”

Welch noted many of the holiday decorations have been set up throughout Historic Downtown Hannibal.

“It’s already starting to look like a winter wonderland down here,” she said.

After the kickoff weekend and Fall into Holiday Shop Small events, Small Business Saturday shopping opportunities will continue on Saturday, Nov. 27. Also that day, Mark Twain’s Birthday Celebration will take place from 11 a.m. to noon and 1-2 p.m. on the main floor of the Mark Twain Museum gallery, followed by the annual Community Tree Lighting event at the Boyhood Home Stage from 5-8 p.m. Gingerbread House Contest submissions will begin, and Santa will visit with children from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 5-7 p.m. at the Tree Lighting Ceremony. Boyhood Home Evening Tours will take place from 6-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3, Saturday Dec. 4, Friday, Dec. 10, Saturday, Dec. 11, Sunday, Dec. 12, Friday, Dec. 17 and Saturday, Dec. 18.

The O.C. Wilson Scottish Rite Feztival of Trees will be hosted Saturday, Dec. 4 and Sunday, Dec. 5 and Saturday, Dec. 11 and Sunday, Dec. 12, at 108 N. Main St. Participants can purchase a raffle ticket for $1 for the chance to win a fully-decorated Christmas tree and gifts. Proceeds from the event will go toward providing scholarships for pediatric speech therapy patients at Hannibal Regional Healthcare System.

The Hannibal Jaycees Christmas Parade will travel down Broadway and N. Main St. toward the Tom and Huck statue at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4. Santa will visit with children from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 7-8:30 p.m. following the parade.

Santa will be back to visit with children from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 5-8 p.m. — the same time as the Living Windows displays in business storefronts throughout Historic Downtown Hannibal. The Babes in Toyland Children’s Parade will begin at 4 p.m. on Main St.

Stores will be open until 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17, and the Holiday Historic Home and Loft Tour will take place from 5-8 p.m. that day and on Saturday. Santa will also be visiting with children from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Shops and restaurants will be open Friday, Dec. 24 for last-minute shopping.

Welch said the festival brings a transformation to Historic Downtown Hannibal that is truly unique.

“I feel like we’ve kind of built ourselves into that Hallmark movie town at Christmas, in a way — just that look and feel, the community gathered, everybody having a good time, hot cocoa and Santa,” she said.

Welch hired a new employee from New Mexico who wanted to experience that sort of atmosphere. When she started sharing photos with her friend, she was asked where it was. She told her ‘it’s the new town we’re living in.’

Megan Rapp, director of the Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau, expressed her excitement for the beginning of the Victorian Festival of Christmas and the magic of the holidays filling Historic Downtown Hannibal.

Rapp said she and fellow Hannibal ambassadors greeted passengers from the final riverboat of the season on Wednesday, and she looked forward to the transition right into the holiday shopping season and all of the festivities happening each week during the festival.

“We’re very excited about all the stores getting together and creating these fantastic opportunities for families and people of all ages to come downtown and enjoy the holiday festivities, grab some great presents by shopping local, getting to meet Santa and just sharing the holiday spirit,” she said. “The Jaycees do such a great job with the Christmas Parade, and they’re going to have the Babes in Toyland Parade, which is always adorable, and Living Windows — if you’re not downtown every weekend, you’re going to miss something fantastic. We’re looking forward to it.”

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