Ferris wheel replaces outdoor rink at annual Centennial Square Christmas celebration

The skating rink is out. A ferris wheel is in.

The Downtown Victoria Business Association is swapping ice for air time as part of its Christmas attraction in Centennial Square this holiday season.

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A 20-metre ferris wheel is being set up this week and will be ready for downtown shoppers at the Fifth Annual Centennial Square Christmas Tree Light-Up on Saturday.

“We are excited about the unique perspective of the Centennial Square lights that riders will get from the top of the downtown’s first Christmas ferris wheel,” said DVBA general manager Ken Kelly.

Kelly said although last year’s skating rink was popular, there were “challenges” associated with on-site power supply. He didn’t rule out a return of the artificial ice surface in coming years, saying the association is “hopeful that we can work with the city to upgrade the power in Centennial Square in coming years.”

The ferris wheel will be located next to the McPherson Theatre in Centennial Square and rides will be $2 per person. Rides will be offered to the public on the following dates:

* Saturday, November 17, 3-10 p.m.

* Sunday, November 18, noon to 8 p.m.  

* Friday, November 23, 5-10 p.m.  

* Saturday, November 24, noon to 10 p.m. 

* Sunday, November 25, noon to 8 p.m.  

Along with the ferris wheel and return of the popular free weekend trolley tours, carollers, weekend entertainment and roaming Father Christmas, the DVBA will be featuring two new interactive lighting displays in Centennial Square.

The DVBA has been working with Limbic Media, a Victoria company, to bring interactive exhibits to Centennial Square, said chairwoman Fran Hobbis.

Visitors will be able to interact with a specially rendered claymation story with their smartphones and mobile devices. The projection, measuring six metres by five metres, will illuminate the back wall of the McPherson Playhouse and will have a variety of story lines to discover and some new Christmas creatures to meet. The second installation will be in the large cherry tree on the Centennial Square lawn, adjacent to Douglas Street, where audio-reactive lights will move and change colour to sounds and voices. 

 Both new installations will be introduced at the Centennial Square Light-Up on Saturday starting at 4 p.m.

The DVBA also announced the return of a special parking promotion this holiday season. Starting on Nov.  24 and running every Saturday until Dec. 23, your first hour of parking is free at all five City of Victoria parkades, all day.

For the full list of downtown Christmas activities, watch for the annual Downtown Victoria Christmas Guide or visit www.downtownvictoria.ca/Christmas.  

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