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Anheuser-Busch hosts annual lighting ceremony

Telegraph photo by GEORGE PELLETIER The holiday lights are now on at the Anheuser-Busch Biergarten and Tour Center in Merrimack.

MERRIMACK – With toasty igloos, flickering fire pits and plenty of cold brew and hot cocoa to go around, the Anheuser-Busch Biergarten and Tour Center kicked off the holiday season with its fourth annual “Brewery Lights” on Friday evening.

Brewery General Manager Tom Jokerst and Boston Bruins legend Rick Middleton welcomed guests of all ages, as Middleton led the countdown for the ceremonial flip of the giant switch, illuminating the holiday tree and park with more than 250,000 holiday lights.

Carla Reardon, assistant manager of the Merrimack brewery experience, said bringing folks together is a unique part of the tradition.

“In a time when so many connections are happening on social media or online, we’re excited to bring family and friends together to celebrate the holiday in real life,” she said. “‘Brewery Lights’ definitely provides that opportunity.”

Reardon said planning for the monumental event typically begins in the spring and early summer.

“Every year, it has gotten a little bit bigger,” she said. “We build off of each year. For example, this year, we have a new ‘Kids Zone,’ where children can get their faces painted, and they can do a holiday craft, which they can either take home, or leave with us to decorate our tree.”

New features added this year include the “Candy Cane Maze,” in which guests get the chance to navigate a holiday-themed maze with complimentary 3D glasses that create the sensation that festive light designs are virtually jumping off the walls; and a V.I.P. igloo package, through visitors can get cozy and rent their own private illuminated igloo, which includes a personal wait staff member and fire pit for roasting s’mores.

“We also offer a ‘Frosty Tour’ this year,” Reardon added. “It’s a tour of the brewery, where guests 21-plus can sample directly from a finished beer tank.”

She said people come from throughout the region, adding officials are expecting up to 60,000 visitors for “Brewery Lights” season.

Tickets are $10 for guests under the age of 21. For those 21-plus, tickets are $15, which includes a complimentary pint of Bud Light.

Parking may be purchased online and reservations for igloos and the “Frosty Tour” are recommended. Brewery Light” runs through Dec. 29. Hours are 5-9 p.m. on Thursday and Sunday, and 5-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

For more information, go to https://www.budweisertours.com/locations/brewerylights/events-calendar.html.