The city of Woodstock is gearing up for the holiday season, modified in light of the pandemic, but the mayor said he hopes it still "conveys Woodstock’s warmth and welcoming spirit."

The season kicks off with Halloween trick-or-treating, which will run from 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 31, although the annual event on the Woodstock Square put on by local businesses is canceled this year.

The city's pumpkin-carving contest will be virtual. Photo submissions can be sent to operahouse@woodstockil.gov, and the deadline is Oct. 26.

The revised calendar was released by the city in collaboration with its opera house, recreation center, library and economic development department, along with the Woodstock Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry and RealWoodstock.

“The holiday season is a time of year that is synonymous with Woodstock’s identity,” Mayor Brian Sager said in a news release. “Many individuals have worked diligently over the past several weeks to devise a schedule of events that conveys Woodstock’s warmth and welcoming spirit, while at the same time shows appropriate concern and respect for continued social distancing requirements.”

The events, updates to which can be found on the city's website and Facebook page, also include:

Ladies NITES Out: The annual event, which usually draws hundreds of shoppers the week after Thanksgiving, will be “spread out” this year with shops offering special treats and surprises on four Thursday evenings, starting Nov. 19 and continuing Dec. 3, 10 and 17.

To obtain free timed tickets or Shop & Sip packages, call the Chamber of Commerce at 815-338-2436.

Lighting of the Square: The annual event, which typically draws thousands of attendees, is canceled this year. Instead, the Woodstock Square will feature "dazzling lights" beginning Nov. 27, according to a news release. A virtual ceremony is planned, along with communitywide lighting of homes and businesses at 7 p.m.

Small Business Saturday: The nationwide event, which takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving and is meant to encourage shoppers to patronize local businesses, will be marked with a "festive atmosphere" planned at the Woodstock Square with STAR 105.5 broadcasting live from 10 a.m. to noon.

Christmas parade and cookies and milk with Santa: While the parade will take place with a few changes, the cookies and milk event with Santa has been canceled. A new parade route is planned to promote better social distancing for those watching and those participating.

The parade will begin at 2 p.m. Nov. 29 at Woodstock WaterWorks, wind through Emricson Park, continue east on South Street, turn south on Putnam Street past Woodstock High School and end at Dean Street Elementary School.

Only vehicles or floats are allowed, meaning no walkers, and no candy will be distributed. Those interested in participating can find parade entry applications on the city's website, www.woodstockil.gov.

Santa Hut visits: Starting Dec. 4 and continuing through Dec. 23, Santa will be available to hear what all good boys and girls are hoping to receive Christmas Day, but this year he will be located at Stage Left Café at the Opera House in order to safely “distance chat” with children, according to a news release.

The Santa Hut will be set up in the Square as usual, with signs directing families to the Opera House. Families can visit with Santa by acquiring timed tickets, which are free to the public and can be obtained on the Opera House website, www.woodstockoperahouse.com, starting Nov. 26.

Photos with Santa are allowed, and visiting hours will be 5 to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 1 to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

Christmas Tree Walk and Gingerbread House Walk: The Opera House’s Christmas Tree Walk will be free, in a limited space with controlled entry and exiting.

The event will run Nov. 27 through Dec. 23. The hours will be 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 1 to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

The Gingerbread House Walk, produced by Friends of the Old Courthouse, is being developed virtually with prizes available in several categories. Email a photo of any type of gingerbread house creation along with its creator to friendsoftheoldcourthouse@gmail.com by Nov. 22.

Woodstock Opera House holiday programming: The Opera House has been closed during the pandemic, but is planning some seasonal programming as guidelines allow. This includes a modified "Nutcracker" ballet with details available soon at www.woodstockoperahouse.com.

2020 Holiday Lights Contest: The Woodstock Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry is sponsoring a decorating contest with prizes to encourage homes and businesses to outdo one another and an opportunity to “flip the switch” at 7 p.m. Nov. 27.

In addition, Kraft Heinz/Claussen Pickle will sponsor a traditional search game to “find the pickle” hidden in retail locations with details to be announced.

Woodstock Willie and Santa Claus wave to the crowd during Woodstock's Lighting of the Square event last year in the historic Woodstock square. This year's celebrations will look somewhat different in light of the pandemic.
Woodstock Willie and Santa Claus wave to the crowd during Woodstock's Lighting of the Square event last year in the historic Woodstock square. This year's celebrations will look somewhat different in light of the pandemic.