Back in the spotlight for November 2022 is Ahwatukee’s biggest community celebration, The Ahwatukee Festival of Lights (FOL) Kick-Off Party. The Kick-Off party is officially celebrating its’ 25th anniversary this year after a 2-year hiatus due to COVID after a very successful return of the Beer and Wine festival held over the summer. The Festival of Lights Kick-Off Party will take place on Saturday, November 19th (a week earlier than the past) at Desert Foothills Park. The family-friendly festival is a great way to kick-off the holiday season and get into the Christmas spirit. The event on November 19th will begin at 11am and will continue until 10pm.
The Festival of Lights was founded in 1995 as a nonprofit to raise money to fund the annual million light display along Chandler Boulevard during the holiday season. Since 2020, The Festival of the Lights has morphed into a charitable organization with a broader purpose as the committee is no longer responsible for the lights which now falls on the Foothills Community Association.
“The response from the Ahwatukee community has been resounding with positivity,” says Rafael Isaac, FOL President. “With the two year hiatus, many feared we would not be back for 2022. After our very successful Beer and Wine Festival this summer, there was renewed hope and the feedback we have received since announcing just a few weeks ago has been incredible.”
“The Kickoff Party is an event that our Ahwatukee community looks forward to attending every year,” says Isaac. “Reading last year’s headlines about never returning was a hard pill for all of us to swallow and being a small community, we never want to see any of our large events go away. Everyone is chomping at the bit to get out, back to normalcy and we are so happy to be back. In addition the the community support, these events not only help fund our amazing light display along Chandler Blvd. and provide entertainment and a sense of community pride for thousands of people in the area, but we are also here for a larger reason. It’s important to remember the purpose behind our two signature events which is to help provide thousands of dollars in contributions to locally focused charities.”
“The event is a week earlier than it has in the past this year which we were a bit nervous about, but it seems that many more local families and businesses will be able to participate this year since it is not over the Thanksgiving holiday,” says Issac.
As far as 2022 goes, the event has been adjusted and remodeled a bit from the past. The free, family-friendly event will continue to have all-day entertainment. This year, the Festival of Lights Kick-off party will focus more on the event aspects the festival has always encompassed. The festival will remain a family affair, including a newly titled “Candy Cane Lane” which will house over 30+ inflatables and an updated Santa’s Village to kick off the holiday season, hosting Santa for family photos from 12pm-5pm.
The Kick Off Party will also bring back the popular Marketplace Street, only with a much more delicate focus on local artisans, providing a holiday arts and crafts shopping experience in the vendor Marketplace. We have also remodeled the popular “Tavern/Beer Garden” for 2022, which will be sponsored by local restaurant and brewery, WCKD Brewery. The larger beer garden will showcase a sports bar feel with TV’s for college football viewing, craft food and beer from local WCKD Brewery and a variety of wines from different regions curated by a local sommelier, champagne and seltzers. Drink tickets will be $7, or 3 for $20.
In addition to Wicked, can be found along Food Truck Trail and throughout Candy Cane Lane which will include Hot Bamboo, Chick-Fil-A, Cuties Lemonade, Paradise Brothers Funnel Cakes, Mini Donuts and Treats, Pita Jungle, Water and Ice Ahwatukee, I Dream of Weenies and Dominos.
The entertainment stage will also be a main focus this year including quality headlining live music from local bands. Community performances will be from 11AM-1PM, and live music until 10PM with DJ and local bands Lil’ Debbie Band and Calico.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:
The festival will be held from 11:00AM to 10:00PM
11:00AM – Doors open – admission to festival is free.
11:00AM-10:00PM – 21+ WCKD Tavern/Beer Garden, Live Entertainment on stage
11:00AM-5:00PM – Candy Cane Lane/Inflatables (All day wristbands available for $20)
11:00AM-5:30PM – Food Truck Trail
12:00PM-5:00PM – Santa’s Village
11:00AM-5:30PM – Marketplace Street Village
Based upon past attendance, FOL anticipates at least 8-10,000 people will attend the event at some point during the day. “As far as partipation goes,” Issac says, “The best way our community can support FOL in 2022 is to come out and enjoy the day with family, friends and co-workers and support local.”
FOL is still currently seeking community volunteers, event sponsors, marketplace vendors and Classic Car submissions. In addition to attending and participating, the all-volunteer organization and FOL Committee is also still seeking a charity partner for the 2022 Kick-off Party. Charities who seek to partner with the Festival of Lights must be registered 501c3 charities, and applications need to be submitted by Friday, October 31, 2022. The application form can be completed online.
Sponsors for the 2022 Festival of Lights Kick-off Party include: San Tan Ford, WCKD Brewery, Safeway, PostNet, Canopy Mortgage, Realtor Dawn Matesi, Big O Tires, Buessing, Blaze Media, Vanderwall PR, Annette Holmes and AFN.
For questions or further information about the Festival of Lights Kick-Off party, please visit FOLAZ.org