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Saanich to work with Uptown on multicultural winter festival

The goal is to augment Uptown’s existing Light Up holiday event
Decorations and lights at Uptown in December 2022. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Saanich council has agreed to partner with Uptown Shopping Centre for a multicultural winter festival celebrating holiday traditions ranging from Christmas to Solstice, Diwali, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

The goal is to augment Uptown’s existing Light Up event.

Coun. Karen Harper, chair of Saanich’s arts, culture and community wellbeing advisory committee, said the partnership makes sense given Uptown is where the people are.

“If we want to increase people’s exposure to a variety of multicultural events, then yes you want it to be where people actually are going to be, so they will experience them,” she said.

Saanich staff estimate the district will contribute about $7,500 to cover the cost of equipment, labour and staff support.

Saanich’s Deck the Hall event, which ran between 2009 and 2019, was cancelled during the pandemic.

In 2022 and 2023, Saanich chose to focus on other winter events and festivals, including Diwali, Ice Fest at Pearkes, and a more culturally diverse Remembrance Day ceremony.

“I think that’s a wonderful opportunity whether or not you celebrate Christmas or any other holiday,” Coun. Colin Plant said.

Saanich staff are already working with Uptown’s Light Up organizing committee to explore how the event can accommodate multicultural elements that celebrate traditions in November and December.

Coun. Mena Westhaver, who spurred on the idea of bringing back a winter event, said she still hopes the district will re-establish an inclusive, free event at the municipal hall in the future.

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