Residents can see some holiday cheer in the decorations and trees available throughout the city. Courtesy images.

COVID-19 has put a damper on the holiday season but Winterlit has returned to Downtown Santa Monica to brighten up 2020.

Downtown Santa Monica, Inc.’s Winter festivities will not feature ice skating this year due to the pandemic but Shannon Daut, Santa Monica’s manager of Cultural Affairs, said there’s plenty to enjoy on the Promenade and Pier between now and Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021.

On the Promenade, residents can see tens of thousands of lights illuminating the outdoor retail and dining storefronts.

Daut said holiday-inspired art installations have come to life in window displays and through the murals that were created by local artists who were asked to interpret what the holiday season means to them during an unprecedented year.

With the recent citywide budget cuts resulting from the economic hardships caused by the pandemic, this year’s holiday festivities were in danger but a partnership through Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. and the City of Santa Monica’s Cultural Affairs Art of Recovery initiative brought the free installations to the public.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing it,” Daut said. “When I went to the Promenade and the pier for Dia de los Muertos, it was just so wonderful and it was a moment of joy, which we desperately need these days. So, I’m very excited to get down and I think what you’re going to see and what visitors will see is a really eclectic mix of artists’ installations in these storefronts.”

Santa’s helpers have also placed a mailbox on the Promenade so children can drop off their letters to have them delivered to the North Pole. If the letters include a return address, Santa will write back.

Guests to Santa Monica Place can visit Santa at his winter home in Center Plaza, beginning Friday, Dec. 4,, to enjoy a contactless visit with Santa, share a wish list, and take home a keepsake photo.

Visitors can also head down to the pier to enjoy the Bob Baker Marionette puppets, which was another project funded by the Art of Recovery initiative.

“We’re really thrilled with all these projects,” Daut said, “and we’re really happy to be working with our business partners and helping them to see the value that artists can bring to their recovery efforts and to develop what we hope will be long standing relationships between artists and businesses and other community and neighborhood groups.”