Snow and ice floes will turn the Santa Monica Third Street Promenade into a winter wonderland next week.

The Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Place kick off a series of festive holiday events Friday, December 3rd, with the Third Annual Winterlit Celebration between 4 and 6 p.m.

The holiday celebration draws several thousand people and all events are free to the public, according to Marivi Valcourt, Bayside District Corporation marketing manager.

Installed in each of the three courtyards along the Promenade, holiday decorations designed by Ramsey Avery will include three 22-foot crystallized trees and ice floes that glow inside.

The Winterlit lighting ceremony will feature a celebrity guest who will throw the switch at 5:15 p.m., illuminating the entire Promenade, including the 22-foot trees, the ice floes and lights in jacaranda trees.

For the first time this year, organizers have planned a surprise by making the lighting ceremony interactive, although they won’t say how the audience will be able to participate.

At some point in the evening, snow will drift down on the revelers near Santa Monica Place, according to Valcourt.

Festivities will revolve around a main stage, set up on the Promenade between Santa Monica Boulevard and Arizona Avenue in the middle of the block.

Mark and Kim, official emcees from radio station KOST, will start the party at 4 p.m. welcoming the audience, building to the lighting ceremony and the arrival of the “Surfing Santa” with his elves.

Last year, “Surfing Santa” made his entrance Southern California style in a ’50s Chevy. This year Valcourt says Santa can actually surf and two “Elvettes” will accompany his special arrival dressed in beach attire provided by Rip Curl, a surfing attire store on Third Street Promenade.

“The Caroling Company” will stroll along Third Street dressed in Victorian costumes, serenading visitors with traditional carols, and the Santa Monica High School Orchestra will perform a free concert on the Promenade at Broadway.

The Santa Monica Playhouse Young Professionals’ Company & Actors’ Repertory Theatre Company will perform a medley of favorite songs from the Playhouse’s over-30-year repertoire at 4:45 p.m., just prior to the actual lighting ceremony.

Saturday, December 4th, the family fun continues with Winterlit Fun in Santa Monica Place and all along Third Street Promenade.

“We are focusing on kids this year with Winterlit Fun and there will be lots for them to do and see,” Valcourt says.

Three to four booths on each block of the Promenade will feature toy demonstrations and arts and crafts. Toy manufacturers Lego, Mattel, Brio, Creativity for Kids and others will have toys on display for kids to play with.

A stage near Santa Monica Boulevard will feature a children’s dancing area and live entertainment with puppet shows, magic shows and performers from Santa Monica Playhouse will return for an encore presentation at 2 p.m.

The Piero Dusa Conservatory will have acting drills for kids, the Skirball Cultural Center will have arts and crafts and kids can ride a pony and visit the petting zoo.

Prizes and giveaways will be awarded throughout the day from the main stage.

Inside Santa Monica Place, a 30-foot tree, ice elements, snowflakes and sprite fairies will welcome Santa’s arrival Saturday, November 27th, according to Erica Boatman-Dixon, Santa Monica Place senior marketing manager.

On Saturday, December 4th, the festive atmosphere continues all day in the mall, where children can take photos with Santa.

In addition, children will be able to make a holiday card of their choice, in conjunction with the Children’s Museum of Los Angeles, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the Community Focus Gallery on level one of the mall.

The “We Tell Stories” group will act out stories for children, using a “Season of Giving” theme, at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on level three.

The Winterlit installation will light Third Street Promenade every evening from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. through the first week of January.

Valcourt says the Winterlit Celebration will be full of entertainment and family fun and she welcomes everyone to come and join the festivities.

Julie Kirst can be reached at jkmailtalk@yahoo.comseason in downtown Santa Monica