Great Okana­gan hol­i­day tra­di­tions

Penticton Herald - - OKANAGAN TOP - By Okana­gan Week­end Staff

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.

Christ­mas Fest

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.

Church ser­vices

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.

Craft Cul­ture

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.

Fes­tive drink­ing

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 for de­tails.

Liv­ing Na­tiv­ity

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.

Spe­cial to Okana­gan Week­end

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.

Okana­gan Week­end file photo

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.

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