11-23-11-loft-tours.jpgTucked away in downtown Fayetteville, above the restaurants and shops, awaits a side of downtown culture that many never see — except once each year during the annual Candlelight Loft Tours.

Every December, for one night only, a smattering of Fayetteville’s downtown residents open their homes to the public and offer tours of their residences perched above the streets of downtown.

On Dec. 11 from 5-8 p.m., spend $10 on a ticket and start a new tradition (or continue an old one) and take the self-guided candlelight loft tour.

Like their owners, the downtown lofts are fun and unique, each refl ecting the style and tastes of the residents. Some are quirky, some sophisticated, some modern, some traditional. All are original — from the fl oor plans to the décor — they add to the flavor and personality of downtown.

“Some of these lofts are really amazing,” said Leslie Saenz, event coordinator. “Once you step inside them it is hard to believe that you are right in downtown Fayetteville … some of these lofts are like something from another place and time. It is very exciting.”

So far, Saenz counts between five and seven lofts on the tour, but plans are still being finalized and the number may change before the big day arrives. Something Saenz finds interesting is the scope of lofts that will be on the tour.

“We have several that are in the 300 Block of Hay Street. One is above an antique shop,” she said. “They are just so original and different that it is hard to single out one or two as a favorite. They all bring something to the tour.”

While loft-tour fans look forward to this event each year, the event sponsor, the Downtown Alliance, is looking to add something unique and fun for the participants. Sure touring the eclectic properties is fun, but they are adding a twist this year. While the organizers are reluctant to pick one loft over the rest as the clear favorite, they are encouraging attendees to do just that.

Each person who takes the tour will get to fill out a survey gathering their opinions about the tour. At the end of the candlelit adventure, surveys are collected and entered into a drawing.

“The prize for the drawing has wonderful items in it that have been donated from downtown merchants,” said Saenz. “Our downtown merchants are very generous. The winner can expect to get some wonderful goodies.”

The tour is self-guided and self-paced making it a perfect event for enjoying more than just the living spaces downtown. There are several new restaurants downtown to try. Saenz suggests enjoying more than one of the downtown attractions — dinner, loft tour, followed by a cup of coffee, a movie or a night cap before heading home. There is plenty to see and do downtown, why not make a night of it?

Tickets are available Rude Awakening, So Chic Bebe, City Center Gallery and Books and The Pilgrim. The night of the event tickets can be purchased at the Downtown Alliance office on Hay Street. Call the Downtown Alliance at 222-FDTA (3382) for more information.

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