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Celebrate the festive season with holiday events from Victoria to the Comox Valley

Ring in the holiday season with a number of festive events that include light shows on land and water, a parade, riding a red-nosed bus, skating with a giant snow globe or walking in a forest of decorated trees.
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Santa heads out for a quick break before seeing more children at Uptown shopping centre, which has a synthetic ice rink for skating opening Dec. 6. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Ring in the holiday season with a number of festive events that include light shows on land and water, a parade, riding a red-nosed bus, skating with a giant snow globe or walking in a forest of decorated trees.

Greater Victoria

Skate under a sea of sparkling lights while listening to classic holiday music on an 18-metre long synthetic skating rink at Uptown shopping centre, part of its Inspired Winter on the Boulevard celebration. It costs $5 to skate for 40 minutes, and skate rentals are $2 a pair.

Half the admission fees to the rink will be donated to 1Up Single Parent Resource Centre. There will also be a fundraiser night for B.C. Disaster Relief.

People can keep cozy in illuminated igloo domes that will be located along the boulevard or take photos with a vintage truck display as a backdrop. Guests will be pleased to find the return of The Cottage (where Santa will be) and a 16-metre tree.

Families can book private 10-minute sessions with Santa for digital photo ops.

The rink is opens to the public from Dec. 6 until spring break, 2022.

For more information, or to book a session with Santa, go to shopuptown.ca.

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Be on the lookout for the red-nosed Santa Bus plying various routes in the Victoria Regional Transit System, Dec. 10 and 11.

Santa will be behind the wheel and his helpers will be handing out candy canes and free rides to everyone who hops onboard. The Santa Bus will operate on routes 2, 4, 6, 8, 11, 14, 30, 31, 39 and 50 over the two days.

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The family-friendly Lights of Wonder holiday celebration returns to Centennial Square, Dec. 16 to 31.

Victoria’s largest free outdoor light display, hosted by the Downtown Victoria Business Association, returns after a year’s hiatus with themed light exhibits, four interactive light tunnels and a 12-metre festive tree.

There will be entertainers on hand Thursday to Sunday, with a Giving Booth accepting donations for local charities.

The event is free and runs 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 16 to 31 (open Christmas Day) at Centennial Square, 1 Centennial Square.

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Get inspiration on how to dress your tree and raise funds for B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation at the Festival of Trees Victoria, at the Bay Centre, now until Jan. 4.

This is the 30th year of the community tradition, which sees the halls of the Bay Centre transformed into a lush forest of 70 trees beautifully decorated by sponsors, local businesses, organizations and individuals.

You can virtually vote for your favourite tree, with all proceeds going toward mental health programs at B.C. Children’s Hospital.

The event is free to view. The trees can be seen during opening hours now until Jan. 4 (closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day) on Levels 2 and 3 of the Bay Centre, 1150 Douglas St.

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Pearkes Recreation Centre is transforming its ice rink into a winter wonderland over the holiday season, with an Ice Festival set for Dec. 20 to 26.

This is the third year of the annual event, which sees the main lights dimmed and the rink turned into a giant snow globe, with trees, lights and snow.

Regular admission applies. Registration is required during Open Skate times, with limited skating aids available. Skates available for rent. The facility is also available for private bookings.

For more information, go to saanich.ca or call 250-475-5400.

Cowichan Valley

Billed as a frozen fantasy land of inspirational images, Island Wonderland is preparing to wow the Cowichan Valley with a multi-sensory immersive experience just in time for Christmas.

Island Wonderland is an indoor walk-through show and display featuring atmospheric sounds, lasers, holographic displays that are manipulated as people walk through them and projection mapping that turns objects into video displays.

The 30-minute shows will run between Dec. 15-31 with six shows daily at the Cowichan Exhibition (7380 Trans Canada Highway in Duncan). Tickets are $24.95 for adults, $19.95 for seniors, and $12 for children ages six to 12.

Tickets, which go on sale Dec. 4, can be purchased online at islandwonderland.ca.

Nanaimo

Nanaimo Community Hospice is lighting up Hospice House and its garden at its inaugural Light up the Night, Dec. 2.

You can enjoy classic Christmas carols by the Wellington Jazz Band, indulge in a treat from a local food truck, coffee and hot chocolate and honour a loved one by placing a memory tag on a tree.

The event runs 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 2 at 1080 St. George Cres., Nanaimo.

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The Nanaimo Yacht Club is hosting a Christmas Light Cruise from Nanaimo Harbour, Dec. 4.

Decorated boats decked out in Christmas lights will cruise and sail by around Nanaimo Harbour, through Newcastle Channel to Departure Bay and then return.

The boats will cast off at 6 p.m. Dec. 4. Head to any of the above locations to watch the procession.

Qualicum Beach

Qualicum Beach’s Milner Gardens is hosting Milner Christmas Magic 2021, a stroll through the lighted pathways of the grounds decorated with Christmas lights.

Take in window displays at the Gardener’s Cottage and Milner House or stop for a photo opportunity at Santa’s Sleigh.

Children of all ages can drop off letters for Santa in the North Pole Mailbox.

An outdoor refreshment stand is also available.

Admission is by donation, with a suggested minimum of $5 for adults and $2.50 for children. The event runs 5 to 8 p.m. (viewing until 8:30 p.m.) Friday to Sunday for the first three weeks of December at the garden, 2179 West Island Hwy., Qualicum Beach.

Port Alberni

Step back into the 1950s at the Heritage Light Up at the McLean Mill Natural Historic Site near Port Alberni, starting Dec. 3.

You won’t see a dazzling light show, or a barrage of blow-ups. Instead, you will see decor from a simpler time, when the sawmill and logging operation would have been active.

Expect simple colourful lights and perhaps some tinsel and garlands. You might even find the old wooden Santa and Mrs. Claus from the well-loved Woodward’s Christmas display.

This is a mostly outdoor event. Stroll under a canopy of cedar trees, with hot chocolate in hand, and check out the decor. Your walk into the past includes several trees decorated by sponsors for the Festival of Trees event, located in the Grand Hall. Vote for your favourite tree via donation, with all funds raised going to the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Santa is expected for photo opportunities, with local musicians entertaining with seasonal sounds.

Entrance is by donation and pre-registration is required with specific ticketed times. The event runs 4 to 8:30 p.m. Friday to Sunday for the first three weeks of December at the McLean Mill Natural Historic Site, 5633 Smith Rd. Port Alberni.

Comox Valley

Get into the Christmas spirit at the Comox Valley Christmas in downtown Courtenay, Dec. 5

This year’s theme is Silver Bells. Organizers ask people to follow mask guidelines, practise social distancing and stay home if they are unwell.

A parade runs 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 5 along 5th Street in Courtenay.

Ladysmith

The Ladysmith and District Historical Society will open its seasonal Magic of the Season exhibit at the Ladysmith Museum, Dec. 4.

The family-friendly event includes a crafts table, seasonal decor, holiday lights and light refreshments.

You can enhance your late afternoon visit by walking along 1st Avenue to view the many lights and seasonal decor among rooftops and businesses in downtown Ladysmith.

If you can’t make it to the opening day, the exhibit will be viewable for the entire month of December during regular opening hours.

The free event runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 4 at Ladysmith Museum, 721 1st Avenue, Ladysmith.

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Know of another event? Let us know by emailing the details to localnews@timescolonist.com.