ITHACA, N.Y.—Downtown Ithaca’s Lights and Bites event is back this weekend despite the coronavirus pandemic, touting itself as a “socially distant 9-day celebration” in the center of the city. The event begins Dec. 4 and continues until Dec. 12 on the Commons.

Though many aspects that were featured in last year’s Winter Lights Festival will be absent, there will still be an elaborate light display created and curated by local artists. The event will boast both lights and food offerings from restaurants downtown.

“Sparky the Unicorn,” thankfully, is making another appearance, according to the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, which is organizing the festival. That’s in addition to “dazzling visuals and multiple interactive projections.”

“In the interest of public safety, we’ve decided to cancel the following activities (…): the Infinity and Beyond hot cocoa bar, fire dance troupe, the Lightsaber Invitation and glow parade will not happen this year,” DIA Communications Manager Darlene Wilber said. “We will still have an outdoor light festival. Many outdoor locations on and around the Commons will still be illuminated with multiple colorful interactive lighting displays for all to enjoy in a safe and socially distanced way.”

As for indoors, restaurants around downtown will have $5 bite size menus to try new cuisines and find new restaurants. Dine-in and take-out menus will be available for the bite-size options.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at