Downtown Vernon carries on tradition

The Festival of Christmas Traditions takes place Nov. 30 between 5 and 8:30 p.m.

Downtown Vernon officially lights up for the holidays Nov. 30.

If the first big snowfall of the 2012 holiday season didn’t get you in the holiday spirit, the Festival of Christmas Traditions, brought to you by MNP, definitely will.

The event is set to take place Nov. 30 between 5 and 8:30 p.m.

“The Festival of Christmas Traditions is just that, a tradition, and we look forward to seeing the many families enjoying the tradition of the Downtown Light Up once again this year,” said Holly Schmidt, Downtown Vernon Association events and marketing manager.

“It will also be a great night to cross a few people off your list, as many downtown merchants will be open for shopping with great gift giving ideas. I’m very excited to have so many excellent community organizations and businesses participating in the event this year.”

The official lighting of the community Christmas Tree will take place at 5:15 p.m. in front of CIBC on the corner of 30th Avenue and 32nd Street (Highway 97). Santa will officially arrive in Downtown Vernon and help with the lighting of the tree.

This year, you’ll be able to play broomball with the Funtastic Sports Society and Boys and Girls Club, compete in a PlasmaCar race at Vernon Teach & Learn, enjoy a Nativity Scene by Emmanuel Baptist Church and get your face painted by Kiki the Magical Christmas Elf to name just a few activities.

When you’re downtown on the 30th, you’ll also be able to check out various community groups including; Silver Star Mountain Resort, Salvation Army, B.C. Hydro Power Smart, North Okanagan Child Care Society, Predator Ridge, Sun FM, Pacific Sports Okanagan, Taoist Tai Chi Society, Kinder Arts and more.

Free visits with Santa are always the highlight of the evening, and will be available once again this year – in the 3100 block of 30th Avenue near The UPS Store and National Bank.

“Santa will be setting up his house in Downtown Vernon on Friday, Nov. 30, and invites you to come on down for a visit and picture,” said Schmidt. “Don’t forget your own camera to ensure you capture the moment.”

The always popular activities will be back again this year. Nature’s Fare Markets will host Cookie Decorating, while the North Okanagan Knights hockey team and Margherita’s Pizzeria invite you to try the Hockey Shoot Out.

When you get a little chilly, you can check out the bonfire and roast a marshmallow with Santa’s Anonymous and Vernon Fire and Rescue Services.

You’ll also be able to take a family carriage ride and let the kids experience a pony ride. A ‘Make your own gift bag’ craft station and Letter to Santa station will also be available.

The holiday entertainment stage kicks off at 5 p.m. with the Official Light Up Ceremony at 5:15 p.m. Fantastic entertainers including Kiki the Magical Christmas Elf, Some Other Time Quartet, Manfred Harter, Bearisto Elementary School Choir, Argyll School of Celtic Arts and She Laughs will be performing throughout the night.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the community Christmas Tree light up again this year,” said Schmidt. “Tolko has worked hard to find us the perfect tree and we can’t wait for the community to get to see it light up.”

A full schedule of events and activities can be found on the Downtown Vernon Association’s website,

To prepare for the event on Nov. 30, 30th Avenue (from 30th Street to 35th Street) will be closed starting at 1 p.m.

The DVA is still looking for various groups, organizations and businesses interested in participating as a vendor at the Festival of Christmas Traditions.

Should your group, business or organization be interested, please contact Holly at the DVA office (250-542-5851).