Several holiday events kick off this weekend in Switzerland County to help celebrate the season.

Holiday gingerbread houses and wreath-decorating contests will help bring the holiday spirit to the Switzerland County Visitors Center this month. Switzerland County Tourism and Vevay Main Street will announce the winners of the gingerbread house and wreath-decorating contest following Vevay's First Friday, which runs from 6 to 8 p.m.

The "Holiday Gingerbread House Contest," sponsored by Switzerland County Tourism, features adult and youth categories and will be judged on overall appearance, originality, creativity, difficulty and precision. The event is open to Switzerland County residents only, and entries must be turned in today, Jenna South with Switzerland County Tourism said.

Houses may depict any architectural structure, either real or imaginary, but the structure must be completely edible except the base of the house.

"All the candies have to be out of the wrappers," South said.

Awards for the gingerbread houses will be given to first-, second- and third-place winners of the adult and children's category. All children will also receive a participation award.

Businesses, groups and individuals created wreaths for the "Deck the District Wreath Decorating Contest," sponsored by Vevay Main Street. The entries are judged on originality, creativity, workmanship and use of materials.

Awards will be given to the first-, second- and third-place winners of the contest. A "People's Choice Award" will be given to the wreath that receives the most votes during Vevay's First Friday event.

Winners of both the "Holiday Gingerbread House Contest" and the "Deck the District Wreath Decorating Contest" will be announced after the First Friday events end at 8 p.m., Michele Thompson with Vevay Main Street said.

Gingerbread houses will be displayed at the visitors center until Dec. 28. Wreaths will be on display until Dec. 30.

During First Friday, carolers and Pere Noel will stroll the streets and free carriage rides will be available with weather permitting.

Other holiday events will take place in Vevay throughout December with "A Country Christmas" at the Musee de Venoge and Thiebaud Farmstead, a ballet presentation of "A Christmas Carol" at the Historic Hoosier Theatre, Santa photos and other craft activities and a holiday lights display at Paul Ogle Riverfront Park.

"A Country Christmas" will allow visitors to see the simple holiday celebrations of the 1820s at the Musee de Venoge, 111 State Road 129, Vevay. Visitors may then travel forward in time to see the beginnings of modern Christmas celebrations of the 1860s at the Thiebaud Farmstead, 5147 E. State Road 56, Vevay.

Both sites will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Admission to the sites is free, but donations are accepted.

The Cincinnati Kinderballet's "A Christmas Carol," featuring performers age 6 through young adult, will present the new ballet based on an adaptation of the 1843 story by Charles Dickens. Traditional carols such as "What Child Is This," "Joy to the World" and more will be featured Saturday during the production, which begins at 11 a.m.

Tickets for the performance are $5 and may be purchased at the visitors center or at the Historic Hoosier Theatre before the performance Saturday.

Santa will be on hand to meet and greet with children, as well as pose for photos, Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Switzerland County Visitors Center. He will also be available Dec. 15 and 16 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Children may select a craft to create during the event with Santa. Photos and crafts will be available at no charge, but photos must be picked up at a later date.

Holiday decorations will be on display at the Paul Ogle Riverfront Park in Vevay until Dec. 31 to celebrate the holiday season. Visitors may circle the park to see the display made up of thousands of lights, which include a manger scene, sleighs, deer, Christmas trees, cartoon characters and more.

For more information on any of Switzerland County's holiday events contact the visitors center at (812) 427-3237 or