WACO, Texas — The weekend-long Waco Wonderland festival kicked off its 9th annual celebration Friday night with a tree lighting ceremony and a firework show.
The festival runs Dec. 3 through Dec. 5 at Heritage Square in downtown Waco with a ferris wheel, music, a holiday market, and visits with Santa. This is the event's first in-person celebration since 2019 after the pandemic forced the city to put on a virtual event instead.
Waco Parks and Recreation director Jonathan Cook estimates that more than 25,000 people will visit downtown for the celebration, something businesses are looking forward to.
“A lot of people are gonna be passing through here so it’s a good way for them to get to see our brand and see what we’re doing here in Waco,” said Alex Sanchez, owner of Be Kind Coffee, one of the vendors at the festival.
The "Mistletoe Market" at Waco Wonderland features a host of small businesses, like food trucks and holiday shops.
On Saturday and Sunday, a snow tube hill will also be available to visitors.
Entertainment and live music will continue throughout the weekend. Performers on Friday night included the Waco High Jazz Kats and MTB Trojan Swingers.
Gates will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, starting with the Wonderland Parade, which will travel down Austin Avenue from 11th Street to 3rd Street.
Gates will be open from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
A full schedule is available on the Waco Wonderland website.