Okotoks' biggest event of the year is back this Friday (Nov. 17).

Light Up Okotoks has been the town's slingshot into the holiday season for 31 years and sees two kilometres of road shut down to vehicles so that pedestrians and vendors can fill the downtown streets.

Last year's event brought in around 20,000 people, and the town is aiming to make this one the biggest yet.

Community events specialist Connie Drake says the town has established several event zones with entertainment and activities, with one of them being the Olde Town Plaza.

"On the main stage, we will have entertainment running from 5:30 all the way up until 9. We will have local artists, choirs, and fire shows. They're always super popular, last year the crowd it pulled in was thousands of people."

The annual tree lighting will also be happening at the Olde Town Plaza at 7 p.m.

The Okotoks Art Gallery will be the Kids Zone, with craft activities, a gingerbread station, and pictures with Santa.

Traditionally, Light Up ends with a fireworks show at Lineham Park at 9 p.m., and Drake says they've got a surprise for this year's display.

"The fireworks are going to be amazing this year... You'll have a fantastic view from lots of different locations. The Arts and Learning Campus plaza is one of my favourite locations to watch the fireworks from because you have an incredible view. This year there's a bit of a surprise, they'll do about eight or nine minutes of fireworks, there'll be a brief pause, and then there's going to be something fantastic, I'm not going to spoil the surprise. After that, there'll be the grand finale."

Light Up Okotoks 2023 will still take up the same amount of space as previous years, but the town is looking to use some areas more efficiently.

light up okotoks 2023 mapConnie Drake and Logan Coutts with the Town of Okotoks showing the elaborate event map for Light Up Okotoks 2023.

Drake says Riverside Drive will feature more activities than in previous years.

"The Arts and Learning Campus plaza is going to be the 'ALC Plaza Party and Mini Market.' We've got some market vendors that will be there, we've hired a DJ, we have a dancefloor, we've got some art sculptures. It's just going to be so much fun."

That's also where the wagon rides are being staged.

"We do have a beautiful wagon route that will probably take about 15-20 minutes to go through. This year we're looking at doing a bit of a fairytale route in that we are taking the wagons down on the pathways by the river. It's going to be really magical."

There are six wagons available to book ahead of time, with another two that will operate on a first come first serve basis. There will also be an accessible wagon this year.

Fire pits will be spread throughout the downtown area for those needing to warm up, and a warm-up zone is being set up at the Arts and Learning Campus plaza.

Of course, hot chocolate and other treats will be available at several locations, as well as food trucks.

Attendees are also invited to shop at the businesses that line the street.

The Okotoks RCMP's Cram-a-Cruiser drive is returning, where they'll be accepting food bank donations on the corner of Veterans Way and McRae Street. There'll also be a Christmas Charity Truck accepting donations of new unopened toys by the Landmark Site, where the big OKOTOKS letters stand.

The road closure spans from Northridge Drive to the Okotoks Art Gallery, as well as Riverside Drive West and South Railway Street.

Communications and events assistant Logan Coutts says they've come up with a transportation system to address the parking situation.

"One of the things that's always been a pressure point is parking for the event. We're having Southland Transporation run busses from a couple locations, Dawgs Stadium and the Foothills Centennial Centre, so you can park your car there, take a bus, and they'll drop you off at the event zone."

More information can be found on the town's website.

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