If you do one thing to ring in the Christmas season this, or any year treat yourself to the opening of the light up celebrations in Ladysmith. This fun event brings friends and family together from all over Vancouver Island and beyond. The parade is awesome, the lights are amazing and the fireworks - they just go on and on forever - are among the best we've ever experienced. Everytime we were about to clap thinking we had seen the grand finale they started up al over again. WOW! This is one of our personal favourites and highly recommend it. - Dieter and Ashley
Since 1987 the Christmas Light Festival in beautiful Historic Downtown Ladysmith has become a major attraction bringing visitors (20,000+) from all over Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, Pacific Northwest and points beyond. Over 250,000 twinkling Christmas lights line the streets, roof tops and buildings from the last Thursday in November through to the first Sunday in January each year. On the last Thursday of November each year when the lights are actually turned on for the holiday season there is a Kinsmen Parade starting at 6:45 pm followed by entertainment, concessions, a visit from Santa, and souvenirs.
Parade Route (6:45 pm): Line up along First Avenue (south of the Credit Union) facing north. Proceed along First Avenue to Symonds Street (49th Parallel Grocery) and then proceed across the Island Highway to disbure.Immediately following the parade will be the Light-Up of Bob Stuart Park and the Big Tree at Aggie Field.
Budget of $80,000 buys quarter million colourful light bulbs
By Darrell Bellaart, The Daily News
November 26, 2009
More than 250,000 light bulbs will light up the night tonight as the 23rd Ladysmith Festival of Lights officially gets underway.
Thousands of people will fill the downtown streets to watch Santa pulls the switch to send a surge of electricity through the town.
The event, put on by the Ladysmith Festival of Lights Society, is operating on an $80,000 budget this year. With two full-time staff members, a co-ordinator, a volunteer secretary, labourers and teams of volunteers it takes more than 1,000 hours to pull off. The festival has grown in size and scope since its beginnings and no one knows exactly how many bulbs are now strung out on buildings, through trees, along rooftops, around lamp standards and across the town's main street.
"There's over a quarter million, in all directions," said Coun. Duck Paterson.
That number is an estimate. Every attempt to count the lights so far has failed.
This year, most of the lights were strung in a single day in October, just before the Olympic Torch Relay. Normally they work is done the second week of November.
The event draws people from as far north as Port Hardy and from as far south as Seattle. This year, 13 busloads of visitors are coming to witness the town light up."Some come for the night, some make a weekend of it," said Paterson. It's honestly become a lot more than we've imagined it to be. It's huge.
"It starts with a traditional, community spaghetti dinner Thursday at 3 p.m. at Eagles Hall and a Christmas craft fair at Aggie Hall.
Street entertainers and food concessions come out at 4 p.m., followed by live entertainment at the stage in front of Aggie Hall. Santa arrives to pull the switch at 6:30 p.m. and then the Kinsmen parade will go down First Avenue.
The event is fun for the family but parking can be tight, particularly downtown. First Avenue will be closed to traffic from 3 p.m. on, so drivers are encouraged to park and catch a free shuttle bus from either Transfer Beach or the Bethel Tabernacle or Catholic Church on Fourth Avenue, accessible by turning right at Grouhel Road, for drivers coming from Nanaimo.
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