By Kate Lines
December 4, 5 and 6, something amazing is happening in downtown Williams Lake: The Williams Lake Central Business Improvement Association (WLCBIA) and downtown merchants are hosting a spectacular Winter Lights Festival for the pleasure of all locals and visitors — a three-day festival overflowing with free old fashioned country Christmas family fun.
Imagine streets glittering with winter lights as festival goers gaze happily at windows decorated with old fashioned country Christmas themes.
Laughter and music fill the air as people pause to take selfies at the many photo-friendly old-fashioned scenes decorating the sidewalks.
Buskers and performers delight onlookers on sidewalks outside, in stores, and in cafes.
A group of carollers carrying hand-made lanterns moves cheerfully through the crowd. Everyone is excitedly discussing where they’ve just been and where they want to go next.
There are so many fun activities to choose from!
Should they make gingerbread houses, or enter the Ugly Christmas Sweater Scavenger Hunt, or try the Cakewalk Commercials, or maybe it’s time to taste a new festive menu item created by a local chef!
What about the indoor family relay games, the free old fashioned family photos taken by pro photographers, and all the Do-It-Yourself workshops?
With so much going on, how can a festival goer make sure they don’t miss anything?
Well, the WLCBIA has got you covered. Their Winter Lights planning committee is creating a festival booklet to list everything there is to see and do during this fabulous three days.
There is a walking map to show the locations of the 37 downtown merchants who have entered the Old Fashioned Country Christmas window decorating contest – and festival goers are invited to “like” their favourite windows on Facebook.
Another walking map shows the locations of all the Old Fashioned selfie stations – with a challenge to festival goers to get their photo taken at each one and post them all on Facebook.
Of course, there is a walking map to show the Santa Parade route.
The route and parade time are different this year so make sure you look at the map before the festival!
The WLCBIA is having the parade after dark to feature the magical atmosphere created by sparkling floats as they sail gracefully from Fourth to Proctor to Second to Yorston to First to Oliver to Third and back up to Proctor.
All are welcome to participate in the parade. Just stop by the WLCBIA office at 327 Oliver to sign up.
In the festival booklet is also a “birds-eye view” of the festival showing the locations and start/finish times of each activity and event.
From this vantage point people will appreciate that the festival is planned so the crowd can spread out and enjoy many different things at once, and then come together again for main events and attractions.
Some of the highlights that will bring the full festival crowd together on Friday are carolling from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and a dance-band performance from 7 to 9 p.m.
The full festival crowd will also want to gather together Saturday when the Timber Kings are live at Spirit Square from 3 to 5:30 p.m., when the Santa Parade is in motion from 6 to 7 p.m., and when dance music is again performed from 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday will bring all festival goers together one last time as the Town Crier announces all the festival winners at 11a.m.
Immediately afterward a dramatic countdown to 12 noon begins, a countdown to madness — Midday Madness!
Door crashers, red-light sales, and other deal-of-a-lifetime opportunities will have savvy shoppers on their toes from 12 to 4 p.m.
The festival booklet is full of sneak previews of some of the outrageous sale items to be had — but many outrageous deals will remain secret — only to be revealed at strategic moments by the Town Crier.
Especially important in the festival booklet are all the names of the generous sponsors who have made this three-day extravaganza possible.
Many businesses will be donating volunteer hours, supplies or cash to ensure that the festival is free for the community.
If anyone is wanting to volunteer or become a sponsor for the festival, please contact the WLCBIA office at email@example.com.
The WLCBIA is grateful for the ongoing support of The City of Williams Lake, the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Society, and the Cariboo Regional District.
Don’t forget to mark Dec. 4, 5, and 6 on your calendars and to make sure all your friends and family, from near and from far, come together to warm their hands at old fashioned burn barrels, sip hot apple cider and hot chocolate, and celebrate the magic of Winter Lights in downtown Williams Lake.
This is the event we’ll never forget.
Don’t miss a moment!
Winter Lights Festival Hours
Friday, Dec. 4, 2 to 9 p.m.
Saturday, Dec 5, 2 to 9 p.m.
Sunday, Dec 6, 11 to 4 p.m.
Kate Lines is co-ordinating the city’s Winter Lights festival this year on behalf of the BIA.