26th Annual Vista Lights Kicks off the 2012 Midlands Holiday Season

WHAT: The Congaree Vista’s signature open house kicks off the holiday season with artistic performances, live music and dancing. More than 60 galleries, shops and restaurants will open their doors to showcase their holiday treasures before the Vista’s tree lighting with Mayor Steve Benjamin.

WHEN: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday, November 17.

WHERE: The Congaree Vista, with pedestrian-only traffic on Gervais Street from Assembly to Gadsden; and Lincoln and Park Streets, between Senate and Lady Streets.

TREE LIGHTING: The evening’s highlight will be a tree-lighting ceremony at 7 p.m. at the intersection of Gervais and Lincoln, featuring Mayor Steve Benjamin and other dignitaries. The Bon Bons from Ann Brodie’s Carolina Ballet will also be on stage.

MUSIC SCHEDULE: 6 p.m.: Lunch Money, 7:30 – 9 p.m.: Bandkamp

MORE: Vista Lights attendees can catch the holiday spirit with horse-drawn carriage rides. Many Vista businesses will also offer complimentary beverages and snacks, and offering Vista Vino, wines made exclusively for Vista Lights 2011.

• Bridal shop Bella Vista will host its popular bridal fashion show at 7:15 p.m. in the 1000 block of Gervais.
• Tutti Frutti’s (1205 Lincoln Street) frozen yogurt will be half off until 11 p.m.
• Vista Studios/Gallery 80808 (808 Lady Street) celebrates its 21st anniversary with a new show: “Legally 21.”
• Backpacker (1215 Wayne Street) will offer 10 percent off all merchandise until 9 p.m.
• DeLibel women’s clothing boutique (1215 Lincoln Street) will offer complementary refreshments.
• Marble Slab (1001 Gervais Street) will offer photos with Santa.
• One Eared Cow Glass (1001 Huger Street) will offer glass-blowing demonstrations.
• City Art (1224 Lincoln Street) will show new artwork by Rob Wigam.

In addition, many Vista restaurants, retailers and galleries will have their storefronts and windows decorated for the holidays, and Vista Lights attendees will have the opportunity to vote for the best window.

SPECIAL: Free parking in all three Vista garages. Free parking at South Carolina State Museum with transportation to the heart of the Vista.

To learn more about Vista Lights, visit www.vistalightssc.com, follow @VistaGuild on Twitter, or e-mail staff@VistaColumbia or call (803) 269-5946.

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