COLUMBIA — Who still waits for Thanksgiving to get festive?
Tonight, Vista Lights, the 27th annual fall art open house in the Vista, will welcome Christmastime to downtown in a fanciful way. More than 60 galleries, shops and restaurants will be open for thousands to peruse, partake and purchase.
Many businesses will also offer complimentary drinks (some alcoholic) and snacks, and there will be horse-drawn carriage rides for the romantics or for those who bring their kids. Its a family-friendly event.
Here are some of the Vista Lights happenings:
Tree lighting: Mayor Steve Benjamin and a delegation of city leaders will be on hand to light the tree at 7 p.m. at Gervais and Lincoln streets. Bon Bons featured in Ann Brodies Carolina Ballets The Nutcracker will perform before the lighting.
Though their trees wont be as big as the one outdoors, several of the Vistas shops will have decorated trees displayed. And guests get to vote on their phones for the best. The participants: Ellen Taylor Interiors & Design, Eye on Gervais, The Gallery at Nonnahs, Lewis+Clark, Nova Bella Studio, Post No Bills, Blue Marlin, Cupcake, Liberty Tap Room, The Peanut Man and Wild Wing Cafe.
Sweet sStreet: The Peanut Man, Tutti Frutti and Cupcake, businesses on Lincoln Street, are going with a gingerbread theme. Cupcake will sell gingerbread cupcakes (buy three, get one free); Tutti Frutti will offer 25 percent off on gingerbread and other yogurt flavors; and at The Peanut Man, children can make a gingerbread ornament and get a gingerbread lollipop.
Also for the sweet tooth: LongHorn Steakhouse will have a free build-your-own smores bar and Liberty Tap Room will have free holiday cookies.
Making a checklist: Santa Claus is coming to town, and hell be at Marble Slab.
Sounds of the season: So you probably wont hear a lot of Christmas music just yet, but youll still hear songs. Performers included Chris Condon Brass Duo and Zach Bingham Jazz Quartet. The Eau Claire High School marching band will escort Mayor Benjamin to the tree lighting.
Outdoor painting: Look for the painters set up on the sidewalk.
The galleries, restaurants and shops
Vista Lights is about fun and the upcoming holidays, sure, but its also about introducing attendees to the assortment of businesses from art to the outdoors to food that have made the Vista a vibrant destination. Here are some participants.
City Art Gallery: Sticks and Stones, an exhibition by the painter Wanda Steppe, will be featured as part of City Art Gallerys Vista Lights presentation. A portion of the shows proceeds will be donated to Walk for Life. City Art Gallery is at 1224 Lincoln St. Free; (803) 252-3613 or www.cityartonline.com
At 6 p.m., Jasper Magazine will release its next issue and announce its artist of the year winners.
Gallery 80808/Vista Studios: Seasons Harvest: Recent Works by Vista Studio Artists, a joint exhibition at Gallery 80808, is open. The studios 13 resident artists Ethel Brody, Stephen Chesley, Pat Gilmartin, Susan Lenz, Jeff Donovan, Sharon Collings Licata, Laurie Brownell McIntosh, Kirkland Smith, Laura Spong, Heidi-Darr Hope, Robert Kennedy, Michel McNinch and David Yaghjian will show work. VistaStudios/Gallery 80808 is at 808 Lady St.; www.vistastudios80808.com or (803) 252-6134
Also, Susan Lenz and Jeff Donovan would like help in naming their collaborative art piece.
The Backpacker: Open until 9 p.m., the store will offer discounted prices. 1215 Wayne St., (803) 799-7571
Bella Vista Bridal & Wedding Boutique: The boutique will have two fashion shows at 7:05 and 8:05 p.m. on an outdoor stage. 929 Gervais St., (803) 251-3336
Blue Marlin: Shrimp and grits and bluegrass music. 1200 Lincoln St., (803) 799-3838
ByFarr Design & Letterpress: The letterhead shop will offer letterpress demos and wreath making. There will also be hot apple cider and hot chocolate provided by Hudsons. 501 1/2 Gervais St., (803) 609-0590
Capelli Salon: Mini cupcakes, coffee, wine, cheese and drawings for free haircuts. 701 Gervais St., (803) 661-8968
Carol Saunders Gallery: Art, jewelry and accessories. 922 Gervais St., (803) 256-3046
Carolina Ale House: Music by Under the Sun. 710 Lady St., (803) 227-7157
Carolina Imports Quality Wood Furniture: Open from 8-9 p.m., browse while sipping coffee and eating cookies. 705 Gervais St., (803) 748-9889
Columbia Music Festival Association: Ann Brodies Ballet will promote The Nutcracker. 914 Pulaski St., (803) 771-6303
Eye on Gervais: Discounts on designer frames and a Gucci trunk show. 1219 Lincoln St., (803) 799-2020
The Gallery at DuPre: Infrared Visions: The Curious and the Sublime, work by James Henderson. 807 Gervais St.; (803) 546-1143
The Gallery at Nonnahs: Meet the gallerys artists and violinist Brian McCullough will play. 930 Gervais St., (803) 779-9599
Gervais & Vine: Beaujolais Nouveau release party, French food, French wine and French serving maids. 620-A Gervais St., (803) 799-8463
if ART Gallery: 18/100 Southern Artists: The if ART Contingency, a show of the gallerys artists in the new book 100 Southern Artists. 1223 Lincoln St., (803) 238-2351
Jasons Deli: Coffee and pumpkin pound cake. 823 Gervais St., (803) 540-1973
Jillians: Crab cakes, ribs and gouda mac and cheese. 800 Gervais St., (803) 799-7789
Lady Antoinettes Pastries, Cakes & Eats: The shops creme beignets won best sweets at Viva La Vista. 929 Gervais St., (803) 400-8646
Lewis+Clark: Hot wassail and cookies on Lincoln Street and new ceramic sculptures and other work on Huger Street. 1221 Lincoln St. and 1001 Huger St., (803) 765-2405
Mezza Lebanese Bistro & Hookah Lounge: Almaza Lebanese beer, Ksara wine and traditional demonstrations on saj baking artisan-style Lebanese style bread, Lebanese music and bellydancing. 701 Gervais St., (803) 708-0236
Nova Bella Salon: Discounted gift packages. 801 Gervais St., (803) 779-9599
One Eared Cow Glass: Glass-blowing demos and purchase discounts. 1001 Huger St., (803) 254-2444
Moore Photography, Fern Floral & Event Design, Parkside Wedding Studio: Happy Cookers and beverages by Rosso Trattoria Italia, a photo booth, complimentary manicures and makeup application by Occo Skin Studio and art by Whitney LeJeune. The Mobros play at 7:30 p.m. 911 Lady St., (803) 315-9712
Paul D. Sloan Interiors: Ten percent off Mark Roberts Fairies, and gingersnaps will be served. 1012 Gervais St., (803) 733-1704
Pearlz Oyster Bar: Hot chocolate, does it go well with oysters? Find out. 936 Gervais St., (803) 661-7741
Post No Bills: Food, beverages, food trucks and a dance-music DJ. 801 Gervais St., (803) 254-4334
Regions Bank: The bank will have cider, cookies and music by Cathy Jansen. Theres also a bike raffle. 1010 Gervais St., (803) 931-0700
River Runner Outdoor Center: Hot apple cider and outdoor gear. 905 Gervais St., (803) 771-0353
SakiTumi: DJ and artist painting in the alley. 807 Gervais St., (803) 461-4677
SCBT: Food and beverages. 502 Gervais St., (803) 534-2175
CANCELED South Carolina State Museum: The museum and the Midlands Astronomy Club will host Planets for the People, sidewalk telescope viewing that will be set up on Gervais Street near Mellow Mushroom. Note as of 5 p.m. Thursday: Cloudy conditions have forced the Planets for the People event to be canceled.
TakoSushi: Tempura asparagus with Asahi and Sapporo beer. 1115 Assembly St., (803) 771-7131
Wet Willies: Bingo and live music by Chris Compton. 800 Gervais St., (803) 252-9464
Whit-Ash Furnishings, Inc.: Cheese, cookies, nuts and warm drinks. 919 Gervais St., (803) 779-5123
Wild Wing Cafe: Mrs. Claus cookies, hot chocolate and The Steve Spurrier Show. 729 Lady St., (803) 252-9464
The Woody: DJ Woody Windham, free line dance lessons and soup samples. 729 Lady St., (803) 779-9663
World of Beer: Taste festive beer while playing cornhole and a giant version of Jenga. 902 Gervais St. Suite F, (803) 256-1126
Reach Taylor at (803) 771-8362.