Ridgway Noel

The pop duo You Knew Me When will perform at The Vault consignment shop Friday for Ridgway’s Noel Night, which goes from 4-8 p.m. (Courtesy photo)

It’s the season of giving, and Ashley Perkins, the new director of the Ridgway Chamber, it is also for offering thanks.

“We’re so grateful to have this happening,” she said of the return of Noel Night. The annual shopping-noshing-and-mingling holiday event in the heart of Ridgway’s downtown was tabled last year.

It’s back in force Friday — and it’s bigger than ever.

“There’s a lot of excitement,” Perkins said.

In addition to numerous opportunities to purchase something special for loved ones (we’ll get to those), perhaps in celebration of Noel Night’s return, song and dance will break out in the streets: The Weehawken Dancers will perform two excerpts from their popular holiday extravaganza, Polar Express, at 5:30 p.m. and again at 6:30 p.m., on Clinton St., just west of Cora St. The street will be closed to allow the performance to take place, and Santa to drop by.

For those hoping to seek out the jolly old elf a little earlier — perhaps for a photo-op — Santa will begin his visit to Ridgway at the Ranch History Museum at 4 p.m., where a decorated sleigh will provide the perfect backdrop for holiday photo-ops.

In addition to visits by Santa, and dancing, live music will ring out, festive holiday nibbles will be proffered, and drinks of several varieties, for all ages, will flow from local restaurants.

If it doesn’t snow — and at press time, the forecast didn’t call for it — no matter.

“Weehawken will likely have some winter backdrops from ‘Polar Express,’ and they’ll also be bringing some heaters with them,” Perkins said. And Ridgway’s Town Park is decorated with a lot of Christmas lights. They do a really nice job!”

You’ll find musicians at Ice Beam Studio, where saxophonist Yasuo Ishikawa will perform from 5-5:45 p.m. and again from 6:-6:45 p.m.

At Cimarron Coffee & Books — which is where Lanae and Stephan (from Little Giant) will entertain, from 4:30-5:30 p.m.

And at The Vault consignment shop — which will host a 7 p.m. performance by the Ouray folk-pop duo You Knew Me When.

“They have a quite a following around here,” Perkins said.

Indeed, they’re likely to perform selections from their new album, “Songs of San Juans” (visit youknewmewhen.com for a preview).

And then there’s the shopping. In addition to Ridgway’s numerous retailers and restaurants and galleries, there’s a new venue in town: Paws for Art.

 “So many people have donated works to the Second Chance Humane Society that they decided to open a gallery to display it all,” Perkins said.

“It’s a really sweet space.”

It’s located just across the parking lot from the Second Chance thrift store. A purchase at Second Chance goes to help homeless pets, and the nonprofit’s numerous outreach programs in this region.

In addition to new shops, there are old favorites. One is not even in a shop at all: The much-missed Holiday Art and Gift Sale returns this weekend to the Ridgway Community Center. The sale goes from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4. On display from local artists will be handwoven textiles, jewelry, paintings, books, fiber arts, pottery and more.

There will be one vendor in particular at the show who is guaranteed to be busy: she’s Ridgway alpinist Danika Gilbert, who is known for her work guiding a group of Afghan girls up Mt. Noshaq, one of the country’s highest peaks. You can watch a film about the expedition, “Ascending Afghanistan: Women Rising,” directed by Erik Osterholm and screened at Mountainfilm, for free online. The climb was sponsored by the U.S.-based nonprofit Ascend Athletics.

At the community center Friday and Saturday, Gilbert will be offering art “her girls,” as she refers to them, have made (she’s been keeping in touch with them as best she can).

“The girls created the art, and fine art photographer Kane Scheidegger,” who owns a studio in Ridgway, “was kind enough to donate printing services” to help reproduce the greeting cards, wall calendars and other works which Gilbert will display and discuss, Perkins said.

Visit the website DokhtaraArt.com to see some of these works, or to make a donation. Go to ascendathletics.org to learn about the nonprofit’s mission to support young Afghan women.

Stop by Gilbert’s booth at the community center this weekend, and learn more.