Mayor Drew Dilkens speaks to reporters during the Bright Lights Windsor media preview at Jackson Park. November 27, 2018. (Photo by Allanah Wills)Mayor Drew Dilkens speaks to reporters during the Bright Lights Windsor media preview at Jackson Park. November 27, 2018. (Photo by Allanah Wills)

Bright Lights back and bigger than before

Bright Lights Windsor is back for its second year.

The grand display which features a 64-foot Christmas tree and thousands of holiday lights will take place at Jackson Park starting December 7.

Last year over 60,000 people attended the event and Mayor Drew Dilkens said he's optimistic that number will climb even higher thanks to a few important changes to this year's display.

“The spirit of the festival that brought family and friends of all ages and backgrounds together, that remains the same. But visitors this year will be happy to find the Bright Lights Windsor experience is full of new and exciting updates as well,” Dilkens said. "We will have three times the illuminations and four times the displays."

Some improvements attendees can look forward to will include paved walkways, an increase in parking, and additional food and drink options. According to Dilkens, the updates to this year's festival came from public feedback and suggestions.

This year the City of Windsor will be partnering with Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI) to bring something the mayor says was highly requested -- a Christmas market.

On Fridays and Saturdays, 13 different merchants will set up shop in custom built huts for the WE Made It Holiday Market.

"Together these local vendors will showcase a unique variety of one-of-a-kind gifts. By purchasing the work of our local artisans, you not only support them but our community as well. The money stays right here and helps grow our local economy," said TWEPI CEO Gordon Orr.

Although organizers say the inaugural event was a glowing success, it has been met with some criticism from residents who argue the $1.5 million price tag would be better spent on issues facing the community. Dilkens told Blackburn News that when it comes to running a city, it's all about balance.

"You can't dump every penny you have into roads and sewers because you'd have a pretty boring city. We try to find the balance to make sure that we address the priority needs that we have and then also be able to offer amenities like this that improve the quality of life for the people that live here," said Dilkens. "We do this to support the people and give them a good experience in their city and in a park that would otherwise be underutilized in the months of December and January."

The Bright Lights Windsor opening ceremony takes place Friday, December 7 at 6:30 p.m. After that, the lights are on daily from 5:30 pm to 10 p.m. until January 6.

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