BERLIN – What began as a fall art show, limited primarily to the local galleries, has grown into one of the season’s most anticipated art events drawing people from all over the region to blow off steam, have a unique and enjoyable night out and maybe even pick up a few gifts. What makes the annual Holiday Arts Night event a textbook example of successful event marketing is the event and nightlife it suggests rather than the various sales and specials associated with it takes center stage.
Each year Holiday Arts Night seems to draw a greater number of people interested in finding an alternate way to begin their Christmas celebrations.
The reason is simple – conceived as a respite from the Black Friday madness, Holiday Arts Night has become almost an alternative to it. A way for many people to extend their Thanksgiving parties into four day events, undisturbed by the early-morning full contact shopping that tends to grip many less than 12 hours after they’ve finished what can be the most opulent meal they’ve had all year.
But even those who’ve chosen to battle the early morning crowds often take the opportunity to treat themselves to a leisurely night out choosing to follow a local dinner with a crisp late fall evening saunter around the festively-lit downtown.
“It’s a great way to start the season,” said Berlin Director of Economic and Community Development Michael Day. “There’s nothing like it on the Shore.”
Moreover, possibly the most attractive aspect of Holiday Arts Night’s emphasis on the hospitable atmosphere over the economic aspect of the evening is that it just reinforces the notion of Berlin as an experience as much as a place. But in that choice to focus on the party, local merchants often can reap the benefits of the positive atmosphere by highlighting the juxtaposition between the local as opposed to box-store attitude.
Just as revelers have an opportunity to catch up with those they haven’t seen for awhile, so to are the various merchants able to reconnect with the people who make up their customer base.
Even on chilly evenings the streets are packed with people sharing stories and catching up in the lull that separates the end of the summer from the beginning of the winter. Holiday Arts Night represents for many the last great hoorah before returning to the often-frenetic holiday season.
This year, possible more than any other, there are an astounding number of showings with nearly every merchant along Main Street and its arteries featuring either a local or regional artist.
The various shows give revelers a chance to extend the celebration well into the night, taking time not only to appreciate the range of art on display but also to have real conversations with the artists. There’s little more intellectually invigorating than having the chance to hear an expert talk about their work and to engage their audience in such an intimate way. And these conversations always tend to add a dimension to the piece in question, allowing both the creator and the viewer better personal access to a public work.
As always, Holiday Arts Night also kicks off Victorian Christmas a month-long celebration of a more relaxed, community-centered Christmas season. Mayor Gee Williams will light the town Christmas tree 5:30 p.m. Friday inaugurating the 2010 Victorian Christmas season as the Delmarva Chorus sings Christmas carols to ring in the season.