The City of Rexburg kicks off the Christmas season with its annual Lighting of the Christmas tree on Center Street Friday.

The event takes place at 5:30 p.m. followed by Santa arriving via horse and buggy that's being provided by Homestead Assisted Living, said Rexburg Mayor Jerry Merrill.

 “We just thought we’d do something a little different this year and try it out,” Merrill said.

The city has held the tree lighting ceremony every year on Center Street for six years, he said.

“It’s always fun to have a crowd of people there,” Merrill said. “It gets us into the Spirit of Christmas. All the lights along Main Street will come on. It’s lighting the town for the holiday season.”

Following the tree lighting ceremony, residents may visit with Santa in the Romance Theater’s lobby. On display will be 25 wreaths made by residents.

“It’s the beginning Wreathburg,” said the city’s Cultural Arts Director Jed Platt.

This year’s Wreathburg theme is “Encircled in the Season” because of the “connectivity of the wreath,” he said. The Wreathburgs will be accepted through Dec. 3.

“This year, just be as creative as you can, and we’ll display them. There will be some golden wreath giveaways throughout the month like we did last year. We’ll put clues on our social media pages of where to find the golden wreaths,” Platt said.

Friday night is also the start of the Community White Elephant Exchange that will continue through the end of December.

“You can bring a wrapped gift of any value and place it under the White Elephant Tree and exchange it for one under the tree to take home,” he said. “Leave one and take one. It’s very much a surprise of what that gift will be. It’s something that will bring a smile to somebody.”

On Saturday, Ryan Shupe and the RubberBand will perform at 7:30 p.m. at the Tabernacle. Sponsored by Love Family Piano, tickets are $10 per person.

“He’s out of Utah. He’s pretty popular. He’s a banjo player. It’s a fun family show for the holidays,” Platt said.

On Dec. 3, Platt will host his monthly Art Stroll from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. where residents’ wreaths will be displayed and be available for purchase at the Romance Theater.

Rick Shorten’s “Holy Family Art” will be on display that night as well.

“It’s the idea that every family is a sacred,” Platt said.

Additional activities for the month include a Brigham Young University-Idaho student Film Festival at 7 p.m., Dec. 4, at the Romance Theater; the Upper Valley Women’s Choir at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6, at the Tabernacle; and Dec. 9, the Bar J Wranglers will perform at 7:30 p.m. at the Tabernacle. Tickets for the event may be purchased at rexburgarts.org.

“It’s their farewell tour. They’re coming to raise some significant capital for some improvement on that historical building,” Platt said.

Starting Dec. 10, the Rexburg Community Theater will present the time honored “Christmas Carol” at the Romance Theater at 7 p.m. It will continue with the production Dec. 11, 13, and 16-18 at the theater.

Also on Dec. 11, at 7:30 p.m., at the Tabernacle, the group Vocal Affinity will perform “Oh Wonderus Mystery” conducted by David Lozano Torres. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at eventbrite.com.

“Vocal Affinity’s mission is to touch the hearts and souls of audiences and performers through artistic, nuanced music. Our elite singers from across the nation perform advanced modern repertoire and early sacred music under the baton of David Torres,” said its Facebook page.

On Dec. 20, the classic Christmas movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” will be shown at the Romance Theater free of charge. The hope is that residents, inspired by the movie, will make significant donations to the ongoing restorative work at the Tabernacle, Platt said.

The final Christmas celebration will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the steps of the Tabernacle with a Rexburg Luminaries Candlelight Display. Such displays involve placing a lit candle inside a paper bag and placing it on sidewalks and doorways.

“I’m wanting to bring that tradition to Rexburg. It’s a fun way to have that peaceful reflection of those who have come before,” he said.

Platt urged residents to attend the event.

“It’s just a time to come out and enjoy being out as a family and experiencing the season,” he said.

For more information visit https://www.facebook.com/rexburgarts or call 208-359-3020.