The second annual Holly Jolly Holidays will make its return to the Oxford community this holiday season. After the success of the inaugural year, the second annual event is expanding to 12 days of ice skating with real ice this year.
Locals and visitors will have the opportunity to get in the spirit with ice skating Dec. 1-12, located at the Old Armory Pavilion at the corner of Bramlett Boulevard and University Avenue.
Skating hours will be Monday through Friday 3-9 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday, 1-9 p.m.
The cost to skate will be $12 per person and includes ice skate rentals. Walk-up admission only, no advance ticket purchases or reservations are needed.
New this year, skate aids, aptly named Decker the Dolphin, will be available to help skaters navigate around the ice.
“In 2020, in the height of the COVID pandemic, we wanted to bring holiday cheer to our community, safely. In one weekend alone, we had over 1,000 skaters with thousands more spectators. This year, we wanted to expand our offering so that everyone would have more of an opportunity to experience this magical event,” said Kinney Ferris, Executive Director of Visit Oxford.
Additional activities will also take place at the Pavilion on Saturdays of Holly Jolly Holidays, including a holiday art market where vendors will be set up 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Dec. 4 and 11.
The RotoBrothers will also be set up both Saturdays to do live caricature drawings for the whole family. Saturdays on the Square will also include visits with Santa at the Visit Oxford Visitors Center and carriage rides around the Square.
Santa will be set up at the Visitors Center on Saturday, Dec. 4 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. and on Saturday, Dec. 11 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The carriage rides will be available between 3 p.m.-7 p.m., giving people the chance to ride during the daytime, but also at night under the famous Oxford Square canopy of lights.
Reservations will not be taken for the carriage rides but will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis at a cost of $25 per group.
The double decker bus will run a complimentary shuttle between the Square parking garage and the Pavilion so patrons can park on the Square and ride the bus to and from ice skating.
“We realize that parking is limited at the Pavilion,” Ferris said. “We will have additional parking at the Oxford Skate Park throughout Holly Jolly Holidays. We also felt it is important to offer a shuttle service from the Square to the Pavilion since there will be activities at both locations on those days. We hope this will encourage people to stick around for dining and shopping on the Square.”
On Sunday, Dec. 5, Visit Oxford is hosting a live ice carving demonstration by Vern Barker beginning at 3 p.m. Come watch as this ice carving expert takes a block of ice and turns it into a holiday-themed creation. This event is free to the public and will last about an hour.
Holly Jolly Holidays’ opening night Wednesday, Dec. 1 will be “College Night” where college students can enjoy skating at a discount with their college ID. DJ Mario will be the host that night and will keep the music flowing from 6- 9 p.m. while Taylor Grocery’s food truck will be on-site selling hot food.
On certain evenings, local food trucks will be set up just outside the Pavilion so skaters can warm up with Taylor Grocery catfish along with others. Check out Visit Oxford’s Holly Jolly Holidays social media to see updates on specific dates and times.
Letters to Santa
The ever-popular mailbox for Letters to Santa, sponsored by Oxford Park Commission, will be located at the Pavilion for the duration of Holly Jolly Holidays. Beginning Dec. 13, the box will be relocated to the Oxford Public Library.
The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council’s 2021 Ornament Auction will take place Dec. 10 from 7-9 p.m. at the Old Armory Pavilion. This annual event is not only the longest continuously running fundraiser, but is also the main fundraising event that the arts council hosts. While the event has grown over the years, artists from around the region and state donate custom ornaments which are then put out for silent bidding and purchasing. The event is free for arts council members and memberships start at $35.
“The ornament auction has always been a celebration of how the arts are a core part of our community and a fun evening to help us raise the funds to support events such as Sunset Series, Tunes Around Town, and the Sculpture Trail. We’re happy to host this year’s auction at such a fun community event and be a part of the Holly Jolly Holidays,” said Wayne Andrews, Director of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council.
The Oxford Community Market will maintain its current schedule throughout the installation and duration of the Holly Jolly Holidays. Vendors will be set up at the Pavilion Tuesdays, 3-6:30 p.m. Part of the proceeds from Tuesday ice skating will be donated to the Community Market’s efforts in donating products bought from market vendors to various organizations in the local Oxford community.
For more information on all holiday happenings, go to VisitOxfordMS.com/hollyjolly or follow along on social media @hollyjollyholidaysoxms.