2018’s Light Up Downtown Festival is on Nov. 17 from 3-6 p.m.
Any lover of the holidays won’t really need a reason to want to attend Ocean City’s annual Light Up Downtown Festival—after all, it’s chock full of pretty much every exclusively Christmastime specialty except eggnog. Maybe you’re on the fence about booking a hotel just for a holiday extravaganza like this one, or looking for one more excuse to bring the family down for a day-trip on Nov. 17. Look no further: here’s exactly why you need to be in town to take part in the festivities and see downtown OC all lit up.
1. It’s free
When an event is free, that fact is always going to make number one on my list of why the event is so great. And Light Up Downtown is free; Winterfest of Lights is another one of Ocean City’s huge holiday season events, and while I totally recommend that one too, you have to pay a small fee to get in. At Light Up Downtown, you can see the lights sparkle all over the Inlet and enjoy a hot chocolate provided by the Harrison Group, 100% free of charge.
Plus, hotels and motels are really inexpensive this time of year, so the trip itself won’t put a huge dent in your budget, either. If you happen to have cash on hand, then definitely take advantage of the raffle and local vendors who will be around—but you don’t really need any money in your pocket in order to have a good time.
2. It’s festive
Okay, obviously. But the holiday season is kind of a big deal in Ocean City, and Light Up Downtown—in addition to Winterfest, which begins in Northside Park two days earlier—signals the start of the most wonderful time of the year.
3. …and it’s fun
If you’re a holiday fanatic, Light Up Downtown is a Winter Wonderland. There will be holiday-themed games and prizes for the kids, hot chocolate, vendors selling trinkets and crafts and even an appearance by Santa Claus himself. The holiday season is meant to be spent with family and friends, and what better place than a fun-filled-Christmas-light spectacle?
4. It’s something (out of many other things) to do
One (out of many other) reasons the Downtown Association of Ocean City hosts Light Up Downtown is to keep Ocean City’s downtown busy, beautiful and vibrant even deep into the off-season. As I wrote recently, there are plenty of businesses still open in the wintertime (contrary to what some OC old-timers might tell you). And, as you’ll see below, there are a lot of other events going on, too (and if you still find yourself looking for more to do, you can volunteer at the festival).
5. It marks the beginning of the greatest time of year
Again: Ocean City loves the holiday season. The Light Up Downtown Festival and Winterfest of Lights are just the beginning of other cool things happening around town, like the Ocean City Christmas Parade, the Holiday Shoppers Fair, a Holiday Artisan Fair at the Art League, a Jingle Bell 5k, Pizza with Santa, holiday concerts at the Performing Arts Center—and that’s all before the New Year’s celebrations start.
Be sure to wear your favorite tacky Christmas sweater and dangly, red-and-green light-up earrings and I’ll see you at the festival.
This article was originally published in 2017 and has been updated with 2018 events and times.