As Christmas fast approaches, Downtown Williams Lake, in partnership with the businesses of the downtown core, are preparing for the popular annual Winter Lights Festival.
Held each year to celebrate the Holiday Season and the businesses of the downtown core, the Winter Lights Festival has become a cherished part of many lakecity resident’s holiday traditions. From the popular Winter Lights Parade to Festive Family Activities, Williams Lake comes alive with things to do prior to the Christmas break.
This year organization of the event is being spearheaded by Downtown Williams Lake’s events coordinator Jasmine Alexander, who said 2019 marks her third year of being apart of the planning of the event in some capacity. Alexander said this event is a Williams lake favourite of many years now and has taken shape in many different ways.
In 2018 for example, Alexander said they tried giving businesses the chance to host family-friendly in-store activities that allowed businesses to attract more foot traffic while connecting with the community. This allowed them to really feel like the Winter Lights Festival is their event, Alexander said. They were absolutely thrilled by the turnout because of this, she said, and intend to repeat this aspect this year.
“We heard lots of positive feedback from families that the businesses really pulled together a fantastic event,” Alexander said.
Last year they also pushed the popular Winter Lights Parade, otherwise known as the Santa Parade, into the evening at 5 p.m. so that participants could actually light up their floats, which also proved to be a popular decision they’re keeping.
This year the Winter Lights Festival primarily happens on Saturday, Dec. 7 Alexander said and is kicked off by the Earth Friendly Holiday Event, hosted by the Central Cariboo Arts Centre, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Following this from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. the Festive Family Activities will take place in 18 different businesses scattered across the downtown core, Alexander said. These include everything from stocking decorating to ornament making, live music and all other kinds of fun stuff, she said.
Next up, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. the Tree Lighting Blitz will take place in the parking lot of Downtown Williams Lake on Oliver Street. There, attendees will be met by Mint and Lime Catering who will be handing out goodies, Alexander said, along with Starbucks who will be giving out drinks on a first-come-first-served basis. The Williams Lake Studio Theatre will also be playing a special part in this event but Alexander said she couldn’t reveal the specifics of their role next to the fact it involves carolling.
“We really want the tree lighting to be just bigger and better, we would love to make this an annual tradition,” Alexander said.
The Winter Lights Parade itself will take place at 5 p.m. once more, Alexander said and will follow the usual parade route down Oliver Street.
Alexander does not know the final amount of floats that will be in the parade yet as registration to join the parade is still open, at this time. She encourages any who would like to take part to reach out to Crystal Sheridan at firstname.lastname@example.org as they could always use more participants.
Following the parade will be the popular Downtown Deals After Dark on from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. with over 10 participating businesses who will be holding special deals and promotions. Alexander encourages those who attend the parade to then take the opportunity to go out and get their Christmas shopping done during this shopping spree opportunity.
Alexander said that last year her favourite part of the entire festival was going into various businesses and watching the “organic networking” taking place. She feels it offers people a great chance to get out and connect with one another while getting into the holiday festive spirit.
“I think this is the time of year where it’s really easy to get overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with work, family, gifts and travel and we do live in a consumerist culture,” Alexander said. “I think it’s really lovely and special to have an event like this where people can just come and feel like their community loves them back. Who doesn’t love a good community-wide Christmas party, right?”
Following the main events on Saturday will be second part of the festival on Sunday, Dec. 8, Alexander added.
These events include the Food Drive Family Skate that will be happening at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex from 10 a.m. to noon. This event is being sponsored by Dana Faval at RE/MAX and Alexander said they’re encouraging residents to bring and donate non-perishable food items for the food bank to get access to the ice.
Afterwards, Paradise Cinemas will be hosting a toonie family Christmas movie at 2:30 p.m. Alexander said they will be playing the 2019 film Abominable from DreamWorks Animation.
Alexander also encourages attendees of the festival to donate unused winter wear to the Giving Tree by dropping their items off at either Delainey’s Lock and Key or the Cariboo Regional District Library.
A full list of the Festive Family Activites, on from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., are as follows:
Adventures Games– 10 minute free VR (VR ages 5+).
All-Ways Travel– birch ornament making.
Boys and Girls Club of Williams Lake and District– cookie decorating.
The Bean Counter – live music and special drinks.
Cariboo Community Church – hot drinks, bake sale and kids activities.
CRD Library – 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. Storytime Puppet Show .
Delainey’s Lock & Key- “Potato Gingerbread” House Contest with the Potatoe House.
Hair on Second– Kids “Carry-all” Craft.
New Heights Autism Support Society – Handmake orb ornament.
Kit and Kaboodle– Picture Time Mrs Christmas Tree.
Taylor Made Cakes– Pop in for a sweet treat after the parade,
The Open Book– Holiday Story Corner.
Pink Peony – Handmade wrapping paper using stamps, paint and recycled kraft paper. All abilities welcome and all supplies provided.
The Realm of Toys – Photos with Santa by donation.
Poppy Home – Sugar cookie decorating for kids.
Potato House – Spirit of Christmas and “Potato Gingerbread House” Contest.
Station House Art Gallery – Card-making with Miss White Spider.
Williams Lake and District Credit Union– Stocking decorating.