Great Okanagan holiday traditions
It’s holiday time in the Okanagan and that means a lot of things — shopping, music, lights, parties, families, helping the less-fortunate and special events. Here are 10 of our favourite Okanagan traditions as chosen by the Okanagan Weekend staff. Some of these events have already been held, but keep them in mind for next year.
Arion Therapeutic Farm
A rustic, farm-style Christmas experience is available to Kelowna residents only a few minutes drive from the city’s main urban areas.
Arion Therapeutic Farm is presenting a busy holiday activity schedule, from Dec. 22 through Jan. 8.
Events include helping to feed the farm’s horses, hay wagon rides, donkey grooming, taking mini-horses for walks, face painting, and cooking classes.
Of course, there’s visits with Santa, too, on Dec. 22 and Dec. 23.
Arion is located on a beautiful 12-acre property in South-East Kelowna, at 2457 Saucier Rd. It offers a variety of programs, tours, and special events throughout the year. There’s also a vegan cafe.
See the farm’s website for more details.
Cheers Okanagan Tours
A tour company is offering Kelowna residents the chance to view spectacular Christmas light displays while also helping a good cause.
Cheers Okanagan Tours is planning four Christmas lights tours this month in support of Mamas for Mamas. Each tour has a capacity of 24 guests.
Dates are Dec. 12, 13, 19, and 20, each night from 7 -9 p.m. Tours begin and end at Prospera Place, and the rides are by donation. Requested items include size 5 and 6 diapers, boys and girls clothing size five to teen, and various personal hygiene products.
Call 250-717-8452 to book a spot on the tour.
Mamas for Mamas is a not-for-profit group that supports mothers in crisis, and which provides on-going support to lowincome mothers and their kids.
The group says its mission is to change the landscape of poverty through innovative approaches to financial barriers that face struggling families.
The Rotary Arts Centre in Kelowna hosts the inaugural Okanagan Christmas Fest Dec. 14, 15 and 16.
The hours are 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Dec. 14, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the 15th and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the 16th.
This indoor-outdoor event, presented by the new Kanata Hotel & Conference Centre, features an indoor Christmas tree walk, European-inspired outdoor Christmas market, appearances by Santa, live entertainment and holiday eats and drinks.
Money raised by the Christmas tree walk will support the Central Okanagan Food Bank.
Christmas may not be the holiest holiday on the Christian calendar — that’s Easter — but it is the time the churched and the unchurched are most likely to find themselves beside one another in the pews.
All churches offer special Christmasthemed events and services, but one of the most appealing concerts is the service held at the Cathedral Church of St. Michael and All Angels in Kelowna.
The beautiful building, at the corner of Richter Street and Sutherland Avenue, was constructed of local sandstone with granite trim in the years between 1908 and 1913. A recent restoration project returned the oak floors to their original golden colour, exposed gorgeous brickwork, and saw the repainting of the 15-metre high walls.
It’s the city’s oldest Protestant congregation but all are welcome at the cathedral’s two Christmas Carol services, Dec. 9 at 3 p.m., and Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Jam 180 booths into Kelowna’s Prospera Place to sell arts, crafts, clothes, Christmas decorations, home decor items and toys and you have Craft Culture.
The sixth annual extravaganza is today, 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and tomorrow, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m..
Thousands will show up to shop, shop, shop, with the biggest rush first thing in the morning.
Organizers suggest you come in the afternoon when crowds are lighter.
There’s also a bar on the show floor so you can take a break or shop beverage in hand.
Partial process from the $5 admission will be donated to the Mamas for Mamas charity.
Christmas approaching is as good of excuse as any to imbibe in fine Okanagan wines.
Holiday-themed events at local wineries this weekend range from a classical pianist and folk singer in the cellar at Kelowna’s The View Winery and learning how to paint a winter landscape at West Kelowna’s Grizzli Winery to Get Your Sparkle On at Noble Ridge Winery in Okanagan Falls and wine and food pairing parties at Inniskillin Winery in Oliver and Nk’Mip Winery on Osoyoos.
Many of the wineries and associations also have light-ups, including the popular Light Up the Vines at Summerland’s Bottleneck Drive.
Check out WineBC.com/events for details.
The Christmas story comes to life at Willow Park Church in Kelowna every year.
This weekend, the church is putting on its annual free Living Nativity event.
The event attracts thousands of people every year, and is free for the whole family.
This year’s musical, “Through the Wardrobe,” has several showtimes to choose from.
Catch the 30-minute show on Saturday and Sunday at 4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. or 7:30 p.m.
Sunday also has an additional show at 3:30 p.m.
Following the show, walk through a series of Christmas scenes while enjoying hot drinks and cookies, then wander into the Bethlehem petting zoo.
Living Nativity takes place at Willow Park Church, at 439 Highway 33, in Rutland.
Rutland Light Up
The annual Rutland Light Up is back this Sunday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Hot drinks and carolling will take place at Willow Park Shopping Centre from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The festivities then move to Roxby Square for the official tree lighting, which will be at 4:30 p.m.
Along with Christmas carols and a crafting station, there will be hot drinks, cookies and chili.
There will also be a scrimmage with the Kelowna Chiefs in Roxby Square and a bus where kids can meet Santa Claus.
Santa Claus Parade
In a city that loves parades, Penticton’s final parade of the year is all for the kids.
For 21 years, the Downtown Penticton Association merchants and residents have presented the Santa Claus Parade, held each year in early December to kick off the festive season.
It now begins at 4 p.m., just as the streets become dark and this year’s event was about 45 minutes in length with dozens of entries. It begins on White Ave. and proceeds down Main Street. This year the parade forgot to take its traditional turn onto Front Street (next year, please).
Like every other Santa Claus parade, they save the best for last — Santa and Mrs. Claus on a handcrafted sleigh.
Summerland’s Festival of Lights
There are light-ups and then there’s the Summerland Light Up.
Billed as the Festival of Lights, the entire downtown comes alive at 7 p.m. when the mayor hits the switch to thunderous applause. The excitement begins long before that. Santa is on site by 5 p.m. and there’s continuous live music on the Main Street stage by “A” acts.
There’s activities for the kids, ice sculptures, food booths, a fishing pond, and gingerbread decorating station. All of the stores are open in what’s their busiest night of the year.
Now in its 31st year, the event offers free shuttle service to make it easier on parking. It’s estimated more than 10,000 people attend.
And, to top off the night, they have an impressive fireworks display.
The entire town comes alive every year at the official light-up, part of Summerland’s Festival of Lights which attracts crowds in the thousands.
A youngster enjoys a ride on a mini-horse at the Arion Therapeutic Farm.
The Cathedral Church of St. Michael and All Angels in Kelowna.