See The RiverFront and Old Market Dazzle on Small Business Saturday

Annual Lighting Ceremony at Gene Leahy Mall Kicks-off Holiday Season on NEW Date

(OMAHA, Nebr.) November 20, 2023 – Small Business Saturday in Downtown Omaha has never been more festive! The annual Holiday Lights Festival Lighting Ceremony, with displays produced by The RiverFront, will take place on a brand new date this year – Saturday, November 25th at the Gene Leahy Mall Performance Pavilion.

This event serves as the official kick-off for the holiday season, ushering in festive decorations throughout the downtown area as well as several free family-friendly events. Local musician Kevin McClure will perform on the Gene Leahy Mall Performance Pavilion early in the evening around 5:30 pm with the official program – emceed by Terri McCormick of STAR 104.5 The Christmas Station – beginning at 6pm. Mayor Jean Stothert will then lead the entire Omaha community in a countdown to the start of the holiday season! The program will end with a special performance by local band, Parfait.

Free parking will be available that evening at the Park Omaha garages located at both 15th & Douglas and 12th & Capitol. Additionally, the public has the opportunity to participate in the Shine the Light on Hunger campaign – the Food Bank for the Heartland’s donation truck will be on-site collecting non-perishable food items and there will be a mobile donation option through the Park Omaha app as well.

“For the first time, all 72-acres of The RiverFront’s redeveloped space will be decorated and activated for the holiday season. Our park staff has dedicated many hours to ensuring that this will be a favorite wintertime destination for our community,” said Roger Dixon, President of MECA, which oversees operations at The RiverFront.

The RiverFront will provide holiday displays in Gene Leahy Mall, Heartland of America Park and Lewis & Clark Landing, including traditional white tree lights and some oversized ornaments. Additionally, a festive multimedia show will once again return to the Gene Leahy Mall Performance Pavilion incorporating video projection, music and dancing up-lights throughout the Downtown Green event lawn. This innovative and immersive production, presented by The RiverFront, can be seen every Friday and Saturday night through the end of the year in celebration of all wintertime holidays. Along with these lighting displays, The RiverFront is hosting a number of fun and free holiday events throughout the season – find the full online calendar at  

Immediately following the Lighting Ceremony, the public is invited to explore the remainder of The RiverFront’s decorations before heading over to the Old Market to see lighting displays, produced by the Holiday Lights Festival, which will illuminate the area’s historic architecture. Then, help celebrate Small Business Saturday by visiting the local restaurants and shops located in downtown Omaha.

About Holiday Lights Festival

Since 1999, the Festival has become an annual celebration of Omaha’s holiday spirit, complete with free, family-friendly events scheduled throughout the entire holiday season. In 2007, the Holiday Lights Festival added the Shine the Light on Hunger campaign, sponsored by Conagra Brands Foundation and in partnership with Food Bank for the Heartland. For more information on the 2023 Holiday Lights Festival, visit and follow the Festival on both Facebook and Instagram.

The Holiday Lights Festival is produced by Mayor Jean Stothert and Downtown Omaha Inc. Foundation, with event partners Conagra Brands and The RiverFront, and media sponsors KETV Channel 7 and STAR 104.5 The Christmas Station.

About Downtown Omaha Inc. Foundation

For more than 50 years, Downtown Omaha Inc. has followed our mission to inform, promote and unite the Downtown community. Formed as a business group to discuss parking, retail, promotion, and development issues, the group was incorporated in 1968 and has become a fierce promoter of the common good in Downtown Omaha and its surrounding area. DOI helps to connect and build communities by serving downtown residents and putting on programs that attract people who are visiting Omaha and people from local neighborhoods. Through these programs, everyone is able to enjoy and experience all that downtown Omaha has to offer.

About The RiverFront

The RiverFront is a transformation of 72-acres in downtown Omaha, renovating and interconnecting three previously existing city parks: Gene Leahy Mall, Heartland of America Park and Lewis & Clark Landing. The project spans from the Missouri River westward into the city’s urban core, extending to 13th Street. The Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority (MECA) manages park activation and maintenance. The RiverFront, which is a highly programmed green space, rich with native plantings and permanent amenities, reopened in phases beginning with Gene Leahy Mall in July of 2022, followed by Lewis & Clark Landing and Heartland of America Park in August of 2023.