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A weekly series focused on Bloomington-Normal's arts community and other major events. Made possible with support from PNC Financial Services.

3 things to do this weekend: FOLEPI, a festive First Friday and Holiday 'Spec'

Five people bundled in winter gear joyfully throw powdery snow in the air.

Here are 3 things to do for the weekend of Dec. 2-3, 2023 curated by WGLT's Lauren Warnecke. You can find more coverage on our Datebook - Arts & Music page or by subscribing to WGLT's Weekend Scoop email newsletter, which goes out every Friday.

There’s a twinkling Starship Enterprise, for crying out loud: For nearly four decades, East Peoria has been visible from space during the holidays thanks to the East Peoria Festival of Lights (or what insiders call "FOLEPI"—Festival of Lights, East Peoria, Illinois). This drive-thru light display is hands down the best in the region, boasting a half-million twinkling bulbs fashioned into reindeer, classic cars, dinosaurs, Moby Dick and a replica of the Starship Enterprise. 5-9 p.m. nightly through Jan. 1 and 5-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 23 at VFW Post 2078 Park, 123 Par 3 Lane, East Peoria. Tickets $10 per vehicle. Details at cityofeastpeoria.com.

Santa and spiked eggnog: Bloomington’s holiday festivities kick off in earnest Friday with a tree-lighting ceremony at 4:45 p.m. and festive First Friday. Venture into the museum to warm up with live music, model trains and boozy eggnog. Peruse the galleries to get a jump on holiday shopping, then head to Bobzbay Books for carolers from MIOpera. Come back Saturday for more fun: You could even greet Santa at the terminus of the Jaycees Christmas Parade. Über busy Mr. Claus will also appear in Uptown Normal in an adorable hut planted in Peterson Plaza. That one is B.Y.O.Nog. 5-8 p.m. Friday and 11-2 p.m. Saturday in Downtown Bloomington. Santa’s Station in Uptown Circle is open 12:30-4 p.m. Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday.

The spectacle of all spectacles: More than 100 creative community members came together to produce this year’s Holiday Spectacular, an annual tradition weaving favorite holiday songs and dances around an original, locally-themed story. 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets $18-$30 at holidayspectacular.org.

Lauren Warnecke is a reporter at WGLT. You can reach Lauren at lewarne@ilstu.edu.
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