It truly is the most wonderful time of the year in Galveston as our downtown comes alive with holiday festivals and events.

I’ve had an office on The Strand for five years and each holiday season downtown is more spectacular than the previous one. This year is no exception with the return of some old favorites and some new, never-been-seen events for Galveston. Many have been organized by the Downtown Alliance and they run from Thanksgiving right through to the New Year.

First up, Christmas in Downtown kicks off at 6 p.m. Saturday at Saengerfest Park, 23rd and Strand streets, with performances from a troupe of Chinese acrobats and then the first lighting of the Lanterns and Lights. Holiday lights are always such a beacon of the season and you’ll be able to enjoy the Lanterns and Lights downtown through Jan. 2.

Another holiday must is visiting with Santa. Every week from Thanksgiving to Christmas, families will be able to see Santa at Saengerfest Park. One of the highlights of this favorite is a never-been-seen-before giant interactive snow globe. Visitors can actually walk inside the snow globe, which will be a wonderful backdrop for holiday photo fun and social media selfies!

A popular returning event is Sip and Stroll, which sees stores from Postoffice Street to The Strand offering refreshments, specials and gift wrapping to help make your holiday shopping more enjoyable.

As a former president of the Galveston Historical Foundation it would be remiss of me not to mention our very own world famous Victorian Holiday Festival — Dickens on The Strand that is packed full of fun from Dec. 1 to Dec. 3. This is an amazing event and this year I am happy to once again be a financial sponsor.

There is more to the holiday season downtown than Victorian costumes, holiday lanterns and giant snow globes. We want you to come and enjoy downtown with your families and friends, and while you are here we’d love you to buy a meal, enjoy a drink and do some Christmas shopping.

Galveston has an abundance of options when it comes to local attractions and your downtown businesses rely on you to support us. Like many of my neighbors, I employ local people in my real estate business, I use local contractors and I give back to the local community. We do this because we want our community to prosper and grow.

The benefits of shopping local are well recognized with the U.S. Small Business Administration data showing that nationwide more than 64 percent of new jobs are created by small businesses. It is timely our Christmas event kicks off Saturday, the same day as Small Business Saturday, an initiative supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration and American Express, to encourage people to shop local!

Happy holidays everyone! I hope you enjoy this special time with your loved ones and I’ll see you downtown!

Tom Schwenk is a local real estate broker and the President of the Downtown Partnership.

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