It’s that time of year again, when Santas start popping up everywhere you look.

Santa will be at the Florence Hotel in downtown Missoula this Saturday, Dec. 7 starting at 1 p.m., ready and willing to hear children’s gift wishes and pose for photos with them.

But his appearance will be only one of more than 20 family-friendly activities available in downtown Missoula this Saturday, including the 11th annual Parade of Lights. The parade will launch at 6 p.m. from the corner of Fourth and Higgins and head north to the red XXXXs. The Christmas tree lighting is planned for 6:30 p.m. As usual, there will be free coffee, cocoa and cookies! As well as public performances by various groups.

The Missoula Downtown Association sent the following schedule of events and list of sponsors to help you plan a fun winter weekend and express thanks to the appropriate folks for it:

Elf Village Olympics & Jingle Bell Run, 9-10:30am, Caras Park

Holiday Shopping, All Day, Downtown

Free Gift Wrapping, 9am-5pm, The MSO Hub

Story and Craft Time, 11:30 am-4 pm, Missoula Public Library

Tour of the Trees ($2), 11am-5pm, Holiday Inn Missoula Downtown

Gift Wrap Making, 12-2 pm, Missoula Art Museum

Live Music & Spiced Cider, 12-2 pm, Scotty’s Table

Christmas Card Making, 12-3 pm, Zootown Arts Community Center

Reindeer Mask Making ($3), 1-3 pm, Noteworthy Paper and Press

Holiday-Styled Braids, Bows & Buns, 1-4 pm, Boom Swagger

Cookie Decorating, 1-5 pm, Bernice’s Bakery

Photos with Santa & Holiday Music, 1-5 pm, Florence Building

Family Holiday Movies, 1-5 pm, Roxy Theater

S’more Making, 1-5 pm, A Carousel for Missoula

Finger Puppet Elves, 1-5 pm, Walking Stick Toys

Carriage Rides, 1-5 pm, Higgins & Pine

Hot Cocoa Bar ($1), 1-5 pm, Coo Baby

Snow Globe Making, 2-5 pm, Children’s Museum Missoula

Pony Petting & Pictures, 2-5 pm, Big Dipper

Synaptic Snow Globes & Fractal Snowflakes, 2 -5 pm, spectrUM

Felt Animal Making ($3), 3-5 pm, Selvedge Studio

Santa’s Cookie Plate Painting ($10), 3-5 pm, Corkscrew

Kids’ Dance Party & Holiday Menu, 4-6 pm, Top Hat Lounge

MASC Fire Artisan Performance, 5-6 pm, Betty’s Divine

Parade of Lights, 6 pm, Higgins Avenue (4th to Railroad)

Lighting of the Tree and Bonfire, 6:30 pm, North Higgins

The staging for parade floats and other entries will begin at 5:30 pm on South Fourth Street East. Plaques will be awarded to the best floats/entries in these categories: Best Commercial Entry, Best K-8 Entry, Best Religious Entry and Best Civic/Non Profit Entry. There are 26 float entries this year.

After the Lighting of the Tree at 6:30, the MDA invites the adult crowd to stay downtown for Après Holiday. This collection of Parade of Lights after parties will feature holiday-themed live music and entertainment, special food and drink selections, and other nightlife attractions at Downtown bars and restaurants. Celebrate Navidad by salsa dancing with Downtown Dance Collective at Monks, or see what Top Hat’s got on their special holiday menu. Visit for the full slate of Après Holiday events.

Santa’s Arrival and the Parade of Lights is sponsored by 32 Missoula businesses and individuals. Datsopoulos, MacDonald & Lind P.C. and Liquid Planet are this year’s title sponsors.

Gold sponsors are Montana Public Radio, Advanced Litho Printing and the University of Montana. Parade of Lights Silver sponsors are A&E Architects, Arthritis Foundation, The Badlander, Blackfoot Telecommunications Group, Boom Swagger, El Cazador, First Security Bank, Hide and Sole, Holiday Inn Missoula Downtown, and Studio Pandora.

Bronze Sponsors are 5 on Black, Axis Physical Therapy, Betty’s Divine, Boone Karlberg P.C., Chris & Vickie Honzel, Cloth and Crown, Computer Central, Estep Hope & Weber, Hot House Yoga, KornUtopia, Legends Sports & Group Photography, Missoula Copy Center,, One Eleven, Penny Nord of Choices Counseling, Scotty’s Table, and Top Hat Lounge.

Thank you, sponsors, for your support of the Parade of Lights!