Downtown Napa launches the holiday season Wednesday evening with the lighting of a 29-foot, grape-themed Christmas tree and the unveiling of 14 works of art in store windows, the latest installment of Art on First.
The tree lighting, which has attracted as many as 1,000 people in past years, features music and dance and free hot chocolate and cookies, said Craig Smith, executive director of the Downtown Napa Association.
“I think it’s a great way for everyone to get together before Thanksgiving Day,” Smith said of the event, which is held even if there is rain.
The festivities start at 6 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park at Main and Third streets, with the tree-lighting around 6:30 p.m. after the entertainment and speeches, Smith said.
Once the tree is lit, the crowd will be invited to stroll up First Street to view the 2012-13 rendition of Art on First, featuring works by local artists, with 12 of the 14 entries from Napa County.
These works bring to life store windows that might otherwise be empty at the holidays, while demonstrating that Napa’s “creative culture” is thriving, said Christy Bors of Art on First.
The Gordon Huether Gallery, 1465 First St., is hosting a reception from 7-8 p.m. for Art on First admirers.
Downtown is already decked out with some 4 miles of white lights draped over bridges, promenades and rooftops, Smith said.
First installed three years ago, the holiday illumination was paid for by the Napa Downtown Association and property owners who have assessed themselves to promote the central business district.
The amount of lighting and decoration grows each year, with the goal of making downtown an “extremely magical place” during the holidays, Smith said.
This year’s additions can be noted on the buildings housing Allegria restaurant on First Street, the Vintners Collective and Wells Fargo bank on Main Street, as well as the Browns Street pedestrian walkway leading from Second Street to Napa Creek, Smith said.
The installations for Art on First, now in its third year, will stay up for 11 months.
There are fewer displays this year because four fewer empty store windows were available, Bors said.
Todd Zapolski, the new owner of the Town Center development (now renamed the Shops at Napa Center), continues to make windows available while he works on plans to redevelop his retail space with new tenants, she said.