Thanksgiving is still a few days away, but it's already starting to look a lot like Christmas in Downtown Dallas.
Hundreds of thousands of colorful lights make up the annual CityLights display, which covers five blocks of Main Street, the official downtown Christmas tree and other holiday displays at Neiman Marcus and AT&T Plaza.
CityLights is considered the official start of the holiday season in downtown Dallas. Hundreds, if not several thousands, of people watched the 65-foot tall Christmas tree light up around 7 p.m. Saturday night. While it is a holiday celebration, it is also a celebration of what downtown Dallas has to offer.
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The sounds of carolers, bands and holiday music echoed throughout Main Street Garden Park. Local vendors set up shops and kids were entertained with balloon animals, face painting and performers.
For some, it is a yearly pilgrimage to CityLights. "Our grandson is visiting us from Austin and we brought him down here last year and we heard it happened again and so we have to go see Santa," said Valerie Coker.
For many other families Saturday night was the beginning of traditions. "It's the first time doing this, and it's her first time down here, so she's really enjoying the lights," said Amanda Rooks who brought her baby daughter Eva with her.
"This is the first time, but hopefully we make it a tradition," said Bianca Garcia, who brought her daughters Bella and Alice.
This year also marked a new tradition for Santa Clause. For years Old Saint Nick rappelled down the outside of Neiman Marcus, but with packed crowds a year ago organizers moved the location of Santa's entrance to the park. Santa entered via zip line adorned with fireworks.
By 7:30 p.m. the countdown was on as Mayor Mike Rawlings and Downtown Dallas Inc. President John Crawford kicked off the tree lighting, which featured fireworks from atop a nearby building.
The goal of CityLights is to help bring attention to what downtown has to offer during the holiday season and year round.
"We want people to remember the holidays start in downtown and continue," said C.C. Gonzalez-Kurz with Downtown Dallas, Inc. "So we want them to come out tonight, and then we want them to keep bringing family and friends down and we're going to have events throughout the season. We just want to bring awareness about the amazing community in downtown Dallas."
And for the hundreds of families experiencing downtown together, it's a community they say they'll keep revisiting, holiday lights or not. "We like to show the girls what downtown Dallas is all about," said Garcia.
And one of the new features of the tree this year, you can actually control it by sending a text message to the tree. Texts can change the color scheme and can even make it snow. But you have to visit the tree to make it happen. CityLights runs through New Year's.
Want to find other local holiday lights? Check out our list of lighting displays in Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, and other locations by clicking here.