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20171130 FOL STAR WARSIf you're a Winter Texan trying to get away from the snow and cold, you can still have your snow – without the cold – and enjoy Christmas in Hidalgo at the Festival of Lights.

For 27 years, the City of Hidalgo has turned the small city into a glowing Christmasland with the traditional Festival of Lights, which begins Friday, Dec. 1 and runs through Dec. 31.

The city transforms from a middle-size town to a Christmas phenomena as it constructs and puts up more than 500 light displays that contain more than five million lights. This year’s theme is “Toyland” and narrated guided tours or the city’s festive light displays start at city hall and continue through the entire month of December – with the exception of the parade day, Christmas day, the day of the Ramon Ayala Posada, and New Year’s eve. The guided tour is only $5. Also available is a dinner and tour package for $12.

The illuminated parade kicks of the entire festival beginning at 6 p.m., Dec. 1 and travels throughout the city, ending at Hidalgo City Hall, which stands as the hub of the festival and is located at 704 E. Texano Dr. in Hidalgo. On these grounds you will find a stage with nightly entertainment, a small house to take pictures with Santa, a carnival, food and the starting point for guided tours through the displays.

A new taste – literally – for the festival is a house where gourmet chocolates from the Mozna chocolate factory will be available to the public. The factory is located less than a mile from the festival. Mozna Chocolate is an artisanal bean to bar chocolate factory established in 2015 with a mission to make high quality dark chocolate.

Trolley and Train Tours

There are two tour options available, one that is the tour only and another that is a dinner concert trolley tour package. Here, visitors will take a narrated tour aboard a train or trolley and learn a little about the history of Hidalgo. The dinner tours include a roast beef meal complete with musical entertainment. The dinner takes place in front of City Hall from Dec. 2-19. Call (956) 843-5311 for more information or to make reservations.

The tour ends at the historic Hidalgo Pumphouse, which also sponsors a movie night every Saturday during the festival at the Starlight Cinema.

Snow Days

20171130 FOL AT CityHallTo make the festival seem even more Christmas like, two Snow Days – that's right, Snow Days – have been added to the festival's schedule at the Hidalgo Memorial Park Pavilion, located at 200 Judy Dr. in Hidalgo. The Dec. 16 Snow Day is free to the public and includes snow (don't worry, we're not forecasting will already be made), a slide and the opportunity to build snowmen – something Winter Texans do better than anyone! The second Snow Day is Saturday, Dec. 23 and will cost $10 for admission. The Snow Days are sponsored by H-E-B.

Ramon Ayala Posada

The annual Ramon Ayala Posada, hosted by five-time Grammy award-winning artist Ramon Ayala, will be held Dec. 20. According to the city, this is one of the largest single day events in the Rio Grande Valley, drawing crowds of up to 45,000 people.

Known as the “King of the Accordion,” Ayala has hosted this massive free concert for years. The posada officially starts with a ribbon cutting at 5 p.m., followed by the City of Hidalgo giving away toys to more than 10,000 low-income children. The City of Hidalgo, the Hermes Music Foundation and other local businesses team up to provide these toys. The posada includes a list of top artists who will perform free to the public. The lineup will be announced at a Dec. 6 press conference.

Of course, Santa will also be in attendance from 6 to 10 p.m. Dec. 1 to Dec. 23 in the Hidalgo City Hall Courtyard. Pictures are $15 for one or $20 for two.

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