Getting Into the Spirit, Cow Valley Style


Last year I said to myself, you don’t have to do all the Christmas events. In the past we’ve attended several holiday-related activities in the Cowichan Valley (squeezed every little ounce in). Even though we cut back last year on what we did, we certainly got into the holiday spirit.

I also put out there that every year we should try a new event, while also participating in events that have become a tradition for us. For example, last year we did the Christmas Express at the BC Forest Discovery Centre. We’ve done that for years.

This year I’d love to finally see what the fuss is all about at Butchart Garden’s holiday event in Victoria. I hear they have an outdoor skating rink. We will ride the train again this year and the kids will participate in the float for Lake Cowichan’s Christmas parade this weekend. One of our own traditions is having a cookie-baking day with the kids grandma.

This post in no way is intended to put pressure on parents of activities you have to do. But how about trying a new event this year with your family? The Cowichan Valley (and beyond) has tons of great options.

I asked what your favourite holiday events were… and you told me:

  • The Christmas Express train at BC Forest Discovery Centre. Buy your tickets before going, it will save you spending time in lineups.

  • Christmas Kick Off, Duncan Nov. 30; It has a full roster of festive activities happening all downtown including wagon rides and FIREWORKS!!!

  • Santa Shuffle 5km Fun-Run and 1km Elf Walk in Duncan to fundraise for the local Salvation Army, Dec. 1. I’ve done this run for the last few years. You run in a Santa suit! How awesome is that! It’s a pretty neat spectacle to see all the Santas running/walking together down Canada Avenue.

  • Ladysmith Festival of Lights Nov. 29. This event is quite popular and pretty darn spectacular! Arrive early to find parking.

  • Old Time Christmas, Ladysmith, Dec. 7. Just like Duncan’s event, businesses stay open late for evening shopping, plus there is a ton of stuff for kids to do, including a child-minding/crafting station so parents can get their shop on! Great idea!

  • Moonlight Madness, Chemainus, Dec. 7. Beyond the Usual shop owner Chris Istaace filled me in on this neat event, which is similar to Duncan and Ladysmith’s business-related events. It sounds like there’s lots on the schedule too, including Santa visits and carriage rides.

  • Lake Cowichan holds its own shindig too with all the fixings this weekend, the Country Grocer Santa Parade, Nov. 25.

  • If you’re from the Lake area, you must bring the kids to have a chat and photo with Santa at Scarlett’s Second-Hand Boutique and Coffee Bar on Dec. 2. These aren’t your average Santa Photos. It’s a cozy and casual setting. And free hot chocolate for the kids!

  • Heading south to Victoria, everyone always raves about visiting Butchart Gardens. You can swing by every evening between 5-9 pm. from Dec. 1 to Jan. 6 and enjoy the beautiful light displays depicting scenes from the 12 Days of Christmas. You can also ice skate!

  • If you’re fine with the commute over the Malahat, there’s another event that everyone seems to be talking about and that’s the IEOA Truck Light Convoy. Just picture big trucks all light up. What kid wouldn’t love it? It starts at Odgen Point at 5:45 p.m. on Dec. 2.

  • Back in Cowichan, there’s a Facebook page that pops up every year that maps out some of the coolest or “crazy” decorated and light-up houses, a “Sparkle Tour” if you will.

  • The Cowichan Valley is lucky to have a number of beautiful Christmas tree farms, including Middlemiss Farms in Glenora, the Sahtlam Tree Farm on the old Lake Cowichan Hwy., and the Cowichan Valley Tree Farm off Lakes Road. Support local!

  • Skating is always a big hit over the holidays. Most of the arenas in the valley host family friendly skate events. Lake Cowichan has its Winter Wonderland event at the end of December.

  • The Cowichan Performing Arts Centre’s Nutcracker by the Royal City Youth Ballet is happening this year Dec. 14/15.

  • Speaking of shows, the Chemainus Theatre’s holiday show this year is family classic Little Women. How perfect!

  • Of course every community holds its own amazing craft fairs. Keep an eye out on social media for updates on those. There are too many to list here. It’s always neat to check out the unique items and support local makers.

  • One such craft fair that I will note is Providence Farm’s annual event. It’s held Dec. 3 and besides venders and farm made products, it advertises Santa, hay rides and music and carolling.

  • And lastly, how about starting your own tradition within your friends circle and family? Secret Santa? Wreath-making (wine-drinking) party? Cookie-baking day with Grandma?

And please let me know if I missed anything in the comments below.

Ashley Degraaf