Central Arkansas Holiday Tradition Combines Commerce, Community


By Jamie Gates | Photos courtesy of the Conway Chamber of Commerce

Taking place each year in downtown Conway, Illuminate is a high-energy kickoff to the holiday season. More than 2,000 people gather to light the state’s tallest Christmas tree, tour downtown Conway via horse-drawn carriages, visit Santa or ride a four-story Ferris wheel.

“Illuminate is a multi-generational event,” says Ed Linck, chief operations officer for the Conway Chamber. “There is something for people of all ages. By starting the Saturday after Thanksgiving, we’re establishing a tradition for families and extended families.”

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This year’s Illuminate promises to be the biggest one ever. New holiday lighting and additional attractions downtown throughout the season are already planned.
“We’re already several months into planning for the holiday season downtown,” says Kim William, director of the Conway Downtown Partnership. “We’ve expanded and upgraded our holiday lights. We’ve grown the scope and quality of the celebration. It’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase our retailers and restaurants to people from all over central Arkansas.”

Illuminate’s kickoff events also coincide with Small Business Saturday, a national holiday shopping initiative designed to promote locally owned businesses.

“Downtown is home to our largest concentration of locally owned businesses and independent retailers,” William adds. “They’re important to our economy year-round, but during the holidays they’re an amenity to thousands of visitors.”

The 2018 Illuminate kicks off Saturday, November 24, with a day full of activities. Lights, amusements, and concessions will operate downtown through the end of the year. The season of events is presented by TriTechne, Conway Regional Health System, Miller Spectacular Attractions, Crain Hyundai and Lumber1.


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