holiday-express-2010-2Scenes from the 2010 Holiday Express concert. (Click to enlarge)

holiday-express-2010-1The newborn 2011 holiday season moves outdoors with a bang of a snare drum and a blast of white light on Broad Street in Red Bank Friday night.

That’s right, it’s time for the 18th annual Holiday Express concert, complete with a bustling Santa parade, a sudden toss of sparkle into the roadside trees and familiar, feel-good seasonal tunes by Tim McLoone and his stage-sprawling band of musicmakers.

And it all kicks off a season of Gingerbread Walks, Horse & Carriage Rides, Holiday Harmonies on the streets and more, including a new, movable feast sponsored by the town’s restaurants called Holiday Flavour.

The festivities begin at 5 p.m., with Santa & Mrs. Claus at the Little Silver train station, posing for pix and making merry for a 6:29 train ride to Red Bank.

From the Red Bank station, there’s the spirited hike east along Monmouth Street in which hundreds participate, passing the official Christmas/Holiday tree in the courtyard of the Dublin House Pub.

The Holiday Express stage will be a few hundred feet north of its usual location, outside Garmany, to allow Broad Street to remain open to traffic as far north as Peters Place and provide greater traffic circulation, say officials of Red Bank RiverCenter, which organizes the events.

Holiday Express returns to Red Bank for its indoor warm-and-cozy show at the Count Basie Theatre on Thursday, December 15. Reserve seats for the “Santa Basie” stand here.