Santa Claus is making the rounds this weekend in the Hamilton area. But that's not all!


The Hamilton Downtown Association celebrates the Winter Solstice with the "Festival of Lights" between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Warming barrels will be set up at the intersections and free s'mores will be available for the kids. Chapter One Book Store will have a kids' storytime at 6 p.m. with "The North Pole Ninjas." A group of local folks will be singing Christmas Songs. You can join the carolers, starting at 7 p.m. at the Community Christmas Tree at the Post Office building on Main Street. Also, winners of the "Follow the Sheep Trail" will be announced by the HDA.


Santa will be at the Daly Mansion Community Christmas Party Saturday. The fun starts at 11 a.m. with kids activities such as cookie decorating, craft projects and then, at 12 noon, Santa arrives. Live music with the Bitterroot Ragtime Society and pianist Joan Roe will bring the sounds of Christmas to the historic mansion northeast of Hamilton, just off the East Side Highway. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 per child with kids under age 3 free.

A short time later, in the Hamilton Eagles Lodge, Santa will arrive to visit with the kids at the Eagles Community Kids Christmas Party. The fun starts at 1 p.m. There will be crafts and music. It's free.

Christmas Bird Count for Hamilton starts at 7:30 a.m. at the Teller Wildlife Refuge. The volunteers will have a lunch break at 12 noon with the traditional chili meal with a side of Oreo cookies. The Bitterroot Audubon Society is sponsoring that event.

The Hamilton Players will be stepping back in time with a free public reading of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" on stage Saturday night.The Hamilton Playhouse doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the play starts at 7 p.m., with narrators telling the story and actors silently acting out some of the scenes as the story unfolds. Admission is free, but you're encouraged to buy items at their bake sale in the lobby.

Across town at the HHS Performing Arts Center, the Montana A Cappella Society will present their annual Christmas Program to the community as a free gift. The singing group will present "Christmas Through the Ages," beginning at 8 p.m.

Enjoy the weekend and make sure you say "Hi!" to Santa.