Dayton Arcade decked out, open to public free of charge for Holly Days

Snowflakes will be falling indoors in the Dayton Arcade rotunda for the magical return of Holly Days.

Holly Days 2021 will be the first opportunity for the general public to explore the newly-renovated rotunda of the Dayton Arcade. A number of ticketed events have happened this year, giving some people a glimpse of the historic building, but Holly Days is a no-cost opportunity for everyone in the community to see the rotunda in all its holiday glory.

Holly Days, happening from 3 - 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, will feature more than 30 artisan vendors, live performances, an interactive Lego community project, the Contemporary Dayton Holiday Gift Gallery and more.

The event is free to attend, though art supply donations will be accepted for the local non-profit, We Care Arts. Requested supplies include paper towels, any size of canvases, black Sharpie markers, drawing paper, pencils and oil pastels. For more information, visit

In the rotunda, attendees can shop beneath beautiful architecture that’s made even more spectacular as “snow” falls periodically throughout the event. Beneath the rotunda, in the Tank, the “Holly Bar” will be available each evening from 6 to 8 p.m.

The event last took place in 1993 as one of the last events held inside the Arcade before it shuttered, according to Bill Perry, Culture Works development manager. When renovations began in 2019, Perry said the construction crew even needed to remove holiday lights that still remained from the last Holly Days almost 30 years ago.

For some, the resurrection of Holly Days will be nostalgic.

For others, like Megan Dunn Peters, the Arcade’s Community Manager, the event will be the start of a new tradition, though Peters said she experienced the 1993 Holly Days as a young child from the comfort of her stroller.

“The Arcade has seemingly skipped a generation,” Peters said. “So you kind of see the people in the past, having their memories of the arcade in the 70s, 80s. Then, you have kind of the millennial set that are experiencing this in a whole different way, which is really fun to kind of watch the old memories mix with the new memories.”

The event will be one of the first chances for the Arcade to show it’s much more than just “a place,” as Perry put it, but its aim is to be “an experience.”

“Really the whole idea was that when you come here, you could come here just to shop,” Perry said, “but we want this to be all about the experience.”

Culture Works has lined-up Live performances each night of Holly Days, including the Stivers School for the Arts Chamber Choir (Tues. 3:30 p.m.), South Dayton Dance Theatre (Tues. 7 p.m.), Miami Valley Dance Company (Wed. 3:30 p.m.), Dayton Metro Barbershop Chorus (Thurs. 5:30 p.m.), Gem City Ballet (Thurs. 7 p.m.) and more.

Wednesday night only, the “Cheese Adventure Collaboration” will be a ticketed event in the Tank, hosted by St. Anne’s Cheese Company. The brand’s founder, Annie Foos, will be putting the “art in artisan cheese.” With the purchase of a $48 ticket, guests will learn how to create a “Cheese Chalet” and how to elevate their charcuterie boards with help from the folks at Grist.

We Care Arts will also capture guests’ cheesey adventures with a personalized ornament to take home. Tickets to the Cheese Adventure are limited and can be purchased at

Holly Days organizers asked that guests enter the Arcade through the 4th Street entrance. Guests are also requested to wear masks, as Holly Days is expected to draw a large crowd.



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