Wichita on the Cheap

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Wichita Lights on the River

The Lights on the River website shows it will be happening again in 2021 but I don’t see a date specified yet. This year, the Wichita tree lighting is a separate event. Check it out! 

Admission to both events is FREE and they are open to the public. Everyone in the community is invited to attend.

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Below is information from a previous year. I’ll update when I have new information!

Photo courtesy of Wichita Clean Streams

Lights on the River

Lights on the River holiday event, hosted by Wichita Clean Streams, is a fun, festive, and FREE family event on the Arkansas River! It happens before, during, and after the Mayor’s tree lighting. (Trolleys and buses will be available to take you back and forth between the two events.)

Lights on the River is an annual floating lantern launch. It’s free to go, or you can purchase a $5 lantern and watch as your luminary and all the others float out into the Arkansas River.

The proceeds from lantern sales benefit the non-profit Wichita Clean Streams, an organization that promotes water quality activities.

It’s going to be lots of fun – rumors are that Santa Claus will be there – and they’ll have music, free s’mores, free winter wagon rides, and other classic holiday activities.

The celebration will end with a big fireworks show!

Photo courtesy of Wichita Clean Streams

Schedule of Activities

Start your evening at the Wichita Boathouse as early as 4 p.m. where you’ll be able to make s’mores, buy dinner from local food trucks, purchase your lanterns, or take a wagon ride.

Santa shows up at 5 p.m. He’ll be inside the Boathouse for pictures and to hear what you want for Christmas.

Then at 5:30 p.m. free Wichita trolleys will arrive to bring you to Old Town Square for the Wichita tree lighting. The lines move pretty quickly, but event organizers have planned twice as many trolleys this year to minimize wait times.

At 6 p.m. the Mayor’s Tree Lighting begins in Old Town Square.

At 6:30 p.m. you can take a trolley back to the Boathouse where festivities will continue, followed by the lantern launch and fireworks show!

At 7 p.m. lanterns will be launched.

Photo courtesy of Wichita Clean Streams

At 7:15 there will be a spectacular fireworks show over the Arkansas River. The fireworks will launch on McClean Blvd. north of the Lewis Street bridge, so make sure you’re in the WaterWalk area around that time for the best view.

Summary of the schedule:

  • 4 p.m. Festivities begin at the Wichita Boathouse
    • Winter Wagon Rides
    • S’mores station
    • DJ Rocky K with holiday music
    • Food Trucks and vendors onsite
    • Floating lights available for sale
  • 5 p.m. Special appearance by Santa Claus
  • 5:30 p.m. Trolleys arrive at Wichita Boathouse to take you to Old Town Square for the Wichita Christmas tree lighting
  • 6 p.m. Mayor’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Old Town Square begins
  • 6:30 p.m. Trolley’s bring you back to the Wichita Boathouse for continued festivities. (Lantern sales stop at 6:30 p.m.)
  • 7 p.m. Lights on the River Launch
  • 7:30 p.m. Spectacular Fireworks Show!

Since this is an outdoor event, be sure to check for any weather-related schedule changes. Visit the Wichita Clean Streams website here for more information.

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