Downtown Williams Lake is proud to present the year’s Winter Lights Festival bigger, better and brighter than ever.
Stefanie Hendrickson, Downtown Williams Lake executive director, is happy to help bring the festival, coming up Saturday, Dec. 1, to the downtown core for the second time under her stewardship.
“I’m really excited to be kind of taking a new direction with it this year,” Hendrickson said. “Winter Lights is going to be fun this year, we’ve got some great businesses participating. We ended up wanting to try this idea of having people come right into businesses this year to experience the festival.”
The day’s festivities begin at 10 a.m. on Dec.1 with the Earth Friendly Holiday Event put on by the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society at the Central Cariboo Arts Centre. Running till 2 p.m. Hendrickson said it’s a totally family-friendly event with eco-friendly themed crafts.
From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. festive family activities will be occurring in 16 businesses downtown with everything from cupcake tasting to decoration making taking place in a store. For a map and list of all participating businesses, Hendrickson encourages people to drop by the Downtown Williams Lake office or Realm of Toys.
Alternatively, she said interested parties can follow the event or Downtown Williams Lake itself on social media for live updates.
“There is lots to choose from and it is totally family friendly, for all ages, with something for everybody,” Hendrickson said.
Before the parade, from 4 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. there will be carolling led by LeRae Haynes, along with a Christmas tree lighting, at Spirit Square. Hendrickson said they invite the whole community out for this fun carolling event, adding it’s a nice segue into the parade.
At 5 p.m. the Winter Lights Parade will make its way through the downtown with floats from over a dozen participating businesses. While later in the day than in previous festivals, Hendrickson said most of the floats have Christmas lights attached which just enhance the overall theme of winter lights.
In the spirit of that theme, Downtown Williams Lake has partnered with the City of Williams Lake to put up Christmas lights across town, something Hendrickson said you might have already seen by now.
In addition, she’s encouraged 20 businesses throughout the downtown core to put up their own lights, to keep the spirit of the festival going through the holiday season. Under the theme of Colourful Cariboo Christmas, the businesses will be judged on light displays, with a winner announced during the Winter Lights Festival.
“This is a free event, it’s a great way to celebrate the community and our downtown with all ages. It’s really for everyone be they the young or the young at heart,” Hendrickson said.
The night, however, does not conclude this year with the parade. Instead, Hendrickson said they will have a “Midnight Madness” style event called Downtown Deals After Dark from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 17 participating businesses.
Consisting of just two hours of deals at various amazing businesses she feels it will be a great opportunity for people to do some Christmas shopping, be it for the first time or of the last-minute variety.
“The day just stacks, one after the other. It’s going to be really fun,” Hendrickson said. “The event is a bit of everything, one after another bouts of excitement for the whole day.”
On Sunday, Dec. 2 there is one final event at Paradise Cinemas, a free showing of the Christmas Classic Home Alone that Hendrickson said, once again, everyone is invited to head down to watch it at 3 p.m. Entry is by donation for the food bank.
“We think this is going to go really well. We’ve been getting some great feedback on this and we hope this kind of just snowballs into something and we can continue to do this festival year after year,” Hendrickson said, adding. “It’s really exciting to see how the businesses want to be engaged and be a part of the community. We have some amazing businesses downtown who are really good at community engagement and really want to be part of a vibrant downtown.”
The Winter Lights Festival is the big hurrah for Hendrickson and her team, with no other upcoming events planned until after the New Year.
She encourages people to continue to explore the downtown year round for some “great finds” even when there isn’t an event occurring.
Along with Hendrickson and her team, the festival is made possible by the City of Williams Lake, Paradise Cinema and Mr. Mikes Steakhouse.