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It’s no question why Christmas is considered the most wonderful time of the year in downtown York.

The city is lit up in colored lights, carolers sing on street corners, holiday shows fill the local theaters and thousands come to watch the annual lighting of the 30-foot Christmas tree in the square.

This year, locals won’t have to wait until December for that Christmas magic to return to the city because on July 1, downtown York is celebrating Christmas in July for First Friday.

With special events, promotions and live entertainment, First Friday is always a great reason to come downtown. But a Christmas in July First Friday means even more themed fun and entertainment.

While you won’t see a giant Christmas tree in the square, you can enjoy Christmas cocktails, milk and cookies, Christmas crafts, carolers and more from 5 to 9 p.m. at participating locations throughout the city.

For a complete list of holiday festivities, visit www.downtownyorkpa.com.

Here are five reasons to spend your Friday night downtown.

The FlipSidePA Happy Hour is back – with a twist!

You don’t have to wait until the next Restaurant Week York for another FlipSidePA Happy Hour. The concept is returning to the Yorktowne Hotel’s Offcenter Grille this First Friday. And with specialty Christmas cocktails, free appetizers, live carolers and an ugly Christmas tie contest, this happy hour might be the best one yet. Stop by between 5 and 7 p.m. to get yourself in the holiday spirit with a Mad Elf, Mistletoe Mojito or Jack Frost cocktail. And don’t forget to dress in your best ugly Christmas ties and tank tops for a chance to win a one-night romance package from the Yorktowne Hotel. Merry Christmas in July! Click here to register.

Christmas crafts for the kids

Don’t let the adults have all the fun. Children can join in the winter wonderland merriment with a free, icy craft at Creative York. From 5 to 8 p.m., they’ll have the opportunity to use paint-filled ice cubes instead of brushes to paint their masterpieces in this fun watercolor technique. Then, they’ll turn their paintings into paper ornaments to hang on the tree next Christmas. While the kids are busy, check out Creative York’s gallery, which will be open from 4 to 9 p.m. with refreshments and two new water-themed exhibits, “Aquanaut” and “Tidal Pools.”

Adult milk and cookies

It’s not Christmas in July without milk and cookies – or, as Otto’s Kitchen & Cocktails likes to call it, a Brandy Alexander Cocktail with bourbon and brown butter chocolate chip cookies. Either way, it’s going to be delicious. This Christmas in July special costs $10.

PUPPIES!

If puppies aren’t a good enough reason to come downtown, we don’t know what is. The Royal Square neighborhood is hosting a K9 Christmas in July, meaning the district shops will be full of both holiday cheer and lots of playful pups. The parking lot next to DiDi & Smiling John’s Traditional Barber Shop and Salon will transform into a one-night-only Pop-Up Dog Park for dogs 30 pounds and under. While you’re in the area, you can tie-dye a bandana for your dog at Prime Art Supply, decorate a holiday-themed dog treat at 56 Urban Provisions and make your own puppy chow while playing with puppies from a local dog rescue at The Parliament Arts Organization.

Get a sneak peek inside The Handsome Cab – and free wine!

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Ok, so it’s not quite a Christmas in July event. But it’s a great reason to come downtown, nonetheless. The Handsome Cab will open its doors on Friday for a sneak peek inside the wine bar before it officially opens its doors later this summer. The preview event – held from 5 to 8 p.m. – will include small bites and free wine tastings of an Italilan Pecorino, American Rose and a French Coteaux Du Languedoc. Works by four artists who will occupy studio space at the Handsome Cab will also be on display and for sale.

More reasons to visit:

The Watchmaker’s Daughter: Enter to win a special Christmas stocking surprise and 30 percent off select jewelry.

Foster’s Flower Shop: Stop by for a snow cone.

Kimman’s Co.: Sip a Blue Hawaiian Christmas cocktail

Central Family Restaurant: Come in for a roast turkey dinner and a Christmas in July vibe.

Redeux: Drop off new or gently used toys to be donated to a local shelter.

First Capital Brass: Be on the lookout for the brass quintet caroling through the streets.

New Grounds Roasting Co.: Try the limited-time spinach salad with cranberries, cherry tomatoes and red onion with a gingerbread iced latte or frappe, while listening to a Christmas-themed open mic night.

If you go

What: First Friday

When: 5-9 p.m.

Where: Participating downtown shops and restaurants

Street closures: North Beaver Street and East King Street will close to vehicle traffic from 4:30 to 9 p.m.

Follow along on social media: Use the hashtag #FFYork

More info: Visit www.downtownyorkpa.com.

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