Ashland offers season's abundance

Nov. 18—From the day after "turkey day" to the first day of the new year, the city of Ashland would like to extend an invitation: For holiday charm and cheer, look no further.

As the sun sets at 5 p.m. Nov. 25, Santa's arrival will inaugurate a month of festivities.

After a short procession through the streets, Santa will take his place in the Ashland plaza in time for the Festival of Light's "grand illumination" — over 1 million twinkling lights turning on at once, bathing Ashland with a glow that Katharine Cato, director of Travel Ashland, described as an enchantment.

The lights, she explained, are a backdrop, creating an ambiance for the city as it transforms itself into a holiday destination — as it has for three decades.

"There's a legacy; there's a sense of tradition," she said, "It's just an abundant time of year."

This year, events are back. After two years of the pandemic casting a wet blanket over every in-person fete, Ashland can offer a litany of events for the 2022 holiday season. Cato said Travel Ashland and Ashland Chamber of Commerce are delighted to offer more than last year's lights, shopping and takeout.


Ashland Rotary Centennial Ice Rink opens Nov. 19 for the season. "First Frost" — traditionally the grand opening event for the rink — will wait until Dec. 17, due to fickle weather this time of year and staffing issues, said Lonny Flora, recreation director for Ashland Parks and Recreation.

This year's First Frost will begin with discount family skate time at 4 p.m., followed by performances from members of the Southern Oregon Figure Skating Association. After watching the professionals, everyone will be welcome back on the ice to skate into the night accompanied by live music.

Throughout the season, it's best to check the rink's schedule on its website before going out to skate, Flora explained. The rink is sometimes occupied by events like hockey practices, discount skating, known as "cheapskates," or "Frozen Tots," time for little ones to learn at a slow pace. The schedule and more information can be found at

Beginning the first day of December, Rogue World Music offers a multidimensional sensory experience in celebration of winter. On Rogue World Music's site, or through an app available for smartphones, music is available to play in coordination with a series of art installations throughout Ashland.

A map and suggested routes will be available for enjoying overlapping dimensions of creativity celebrating the season of quiet, peace, joy and giving. For more information, see


Showings of Charles Dickens' indispensable "A Christmas Carol" begin Nov. 17 at Oregon Cabaret Theatre. Performances of the classic will continue until New Year's Eve. The theater will also feature performances of "White Christmas," the 1954 musical adapted to the stage, running from Dec.1 to Jan. 1. For tickets or more information, see

Oregon Shakespeare Festival will join in the holiday celebrations with showings of the raucous musical "It's Christmas, Carol!" running from Nov. 23 to New Year's Day. The festival's website described the play as "hilarious songs from the twisted minds of your favorite OSF clowns, 'Carol!' is a fun, uplifting and music-filled romp." For tickets and more information, see

All three plays are characterized by their respective theaters as suitable for families and children but, in something like a movies' PG-13 rating, expect occasional innuendo.


After a season stuffed with cake, cookies, booze and all other dietary sins, probiotics are available en masse at the Brine, Brew and Barrel Festival.

"It's a multicultural fermentation festival," Cato explained, "kombucha, beer, kimchi, everything pickled."

The festival will be Jan. 13-15 at Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites this year, where fermented treats will be not only consumed, but made. For the price of a ticket, attendees can get their hands dirty making beet kvass and fermented vegetables by the jar.

A bloody Mary breakfast buffet bar and a lecture sharing the ins and outs of probiotics and the gut round out the event. For tickets and more information, see

The Ashland Chamber of Commerce website features a list of restaurants' holiday hours to help with scheduling a relaxing night out amid all the holiday cheer. See

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Morgan Rothborne at or 541-776-4487. Follow her on Twitter @MRothborne.