"Sleigh bells ring; are you listening. In the lane, snow is glistening. A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight, walking in a winter wonderland." - song lyrics from Winter Wonderland.
TULSA - Holiday songs blasting throughout downtown near the BOk Center, ice skaters holding hands as they glide around the outdoor ice rink and holiday lights that are so bright and colorful that they likely can be seen by the satellites that circle the earth are all a part of Winterfest in downtown Tulsa.
This 52-day event began Friday and the much anticipated lighting of the tree is set for Sunday. There also is a fireworks display scheduled for Dec. 10. The festival is located on Third Street between Denver and Frisco.
The daily schedule for Winterfest is noon-10 p.m. with the exceptions of not closing until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. In the past, the annual event has drawn more than 150,000 visitors and organiziers say they expect more of the same this year.
People magazine has called Winterfest the top holiday destination in Oklahoma. The ice rink is 9,000-square feet of fun and is open daily through Jan. 15, including Christmas Day. Christmas songs are played as you leisurely skate under a sea of stars. If you get a chill from the activities, you can take a respite in the climate-controlled warm tent and partake in your share of hot beverages.
"Winterfest has become the kickoff for the holidays in downtown," said Jeff Nickler, SMG Tulsa General Manager. "As Tulsa's largest holiday tradition, we are excited to welcome our guests to enjoy the custom ice skating rink, holiday concessions and the beautiful display of lights."
The cost for ice skating is $10, including skate rental; $5 with your own skates, and $5 for children 3-years-old-and-under.
The popularity of the event has skyrocketed in recent years, moving from 35,000 guests early on in 2008 to more than 150,000 the past two years, according to supervisors of the event.
And just a few steps away from the rink, downtown Tulsa will present Oklahoma's largest Christmas tree, 44 feet tall. When the switch is thrown Sunday, there will be 35,700 glowing lights that will illuminate downtown.
Near the tree and rink will be a stage where artists will entertain customers with free entertainment every Saturday until Christmas Eve.
Every Monday, guests can ice skate at half-price admission with the donation of a perishable canned food item to the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.
Every Wednesday, visitors will receive half-price skating admission with the donation of a new or gently used coat, blanket, scarf or pair of gloves.
The Dec. 10 agenda includes much more than fireworks. Admission is $8 per person and includes live entertainment, a delicious breakfast, visits with Santa. Reservations are required. Go to www.tulsawinterfest.com to get on board.
There also will be road closures with Winterfest. You can look those up on a map at www.bokcenter.com.
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