HIDALGO – "A Tropical Christmas" is the theme for the City of Hidalgo's Festival of Lights 2011. With over 3,000,000 lights and more than 900 displays, all of which are free for the viewing, the night skies over this south Texas border town will remain illuminated throughout the month of December.

The 21st annual illuminated parade, which kicked off this magical month-long celebration of the Christmas season, was filled with beautiful floats, local school bands, marching groups and beauty queens as thousands of smiling faces lined the path through the streets of Hidalgo on the evening of December 1st. Even if you missed this starlight spectacular, there's still plenty of time for you to visit the Festival of Lights' trail of nine sites which can be found at the following locations: City Hall Plaza, Memorial Park, La Herradura, the Public Safety Complex, Municipal Court, Courthouse Plaza, Hidalgo Viejo, the Pumphouse Museum & Nature Park, McAllen Park and State Farm Arena.

Visitors to this year's Festival of Lights will see brand new displays including a 25 foot magical sphere tree, Cinderella's royal castle, Cinderella's royal guards, fourteen old fashioned lamp posts, praying hands, the Big Wave Surfing Santa, surf boards, canoe rowers, Polynesian royal canoe, beach palapa huts, giant pineapples, snowmen, giant poinsettia pots, a candy house, lollipops, candy kisses, Santa's enchanted Christmas village entrance, plus new sponsors' displays for Maxwell House Coffee, Oreo cookies train, and The Valley Town Crier.

Kids of all ages will want to be sure to stop by Santa's House for a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Even as busy as Mrs. Claus is helping Santa get ready for his big trip on Christmas Eve, she somehow finds the time to read to the children and to serve as a guide on one of the trolleys whenever possible.

Among the entertainment scheduled to perform during the City of Hidalgo's Festival of Lights 2011 are the Valley View Elementary Choir, Estudiantina Guadalupe from San Luis Potosi, La Feria High School Band, Hidalgo High School Band, Hidalgo Jr. High School Band, Hidalgo High School and Jr. High School Mariachis, Faith Christian Academy Choir, Milam Elementary "Alebrije" Choir, Valley Magic Chorus, Valley Community Choir and Latter Day Saints Youth Stake Choir.

Additional entertainment includes; Un Regala Para Jesus, Willy's Washboard Jamboree, Jim King and the Texas Connection Band. The Ramon Ayala Posada will take place on Wednesday, December 14th with food booths opening at 3:00 p.m., mass starting at 3:30 and music beginning at 4:30 pm.

Trolley, train and horse drawn wagon tours are available every evening during the Festival of Lights with the exception of the evenings of the 14th, the 24th and the 25th. Trolley and train tours are $4.00 each with horse drawn wagon rides costing $6.00. For a special treat, up to 4 people can take a private buggy ride for $35.00

For additional information, including a full schedule of events and a map, visit the 2011 Festival of Light's website at www.hidalgofol.com. Or call Hidalgo City Hall at 956-843-2286.