Downtown launches Christmas Winterfest collaboration

Share the spirit this year in the heart of the Harbour City with Downtown Nanaimo and the Old City Quarter’s holiday celebrations with the Santa Fly-in, Gingerbread Village, Indigenous storytellers, choirs, free photos with Santa, late night shopping, and much more under the brand of “Winterfest”. 

The neighbourhoods of downtown are coming together to attract families to a total downtown shopping, dining, and relaxation experience. Streets and stores will be decorated for the season as part of this free event providing a place where families can create fun memories while supporting local businesses. 

Shoppers are invited to participate in this year’s window display contest from November 21st until December 17th where they can vote online for their favourite shop’s seasonal decor. Cash prizes will be awarded to a lucky shopper who votes on the display, to the shop with the display and to a charity. 

“We’ve gained a reputation for attracting ‘the real Santa’ from the North Pole and downtown merchants are proud to offer photos with him for free – bring your phone”, according to organizers of Gingerbread Village, opening November 26 in the VICC when Harbour Air provides their annual Fly-In with Santa. Photos with Pets are offered on Dec. 1 from 5-7 pm. Quiet Time with Santa for children with sensory challenges takes place on Dec. 11. Appointments for all visits are recommended. Photos with Santa for kids and pets are also offered at Heritage Mews on weekends in December.

Indigenous story tellers will offer a couple of experiences in the Nanaimo Museum on Saturday afternoons starting Nov. 26, and there will be Magic Shows at Literacy Nanaimo on Nov. 27 & Dec. 11.

Art lovers are encouraged to make their way downtown for ARTWALK on December 3 & 4, an annual event that involves all of downtown. And if you’re a night-time shopper, get ready for the area’s late-night shopping event on December 9th.

Choirs and special events in the Old City Quarter, storytelling and puppet shows at the Museum and Literacy Nanaimo and many more special attractions in Nanaimo’s heritage downtown shopping, dining and arts district are also offered.

Sponsored by the City of Nanaimo, Nanaimo Hospitality Association, Harbour Air, Western Forest Products, DenMar Electric, Coast Capital Savings and the Wave & Wolf.


Museum – Indigenous Storytellers
12:30 pm: Geraldine Manson – Ctesia
Geraldine is a member of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, is married to Earl Manson, has three children, seven grandchildren, and one great grandchild. As the Elders’ Coordinator for Snuneymuxw First Nations, she carries many other responsibilities that relate to the culture and traditions of her community. She has been an elected council-member for more than nine years. Geraldine is a storyteller, singer, and drummer and may share many different stories with you during her time at Winterfest.
Nov. 26, Dec. 3 & 10

2 pm: Dave Bodaly - Laxiya
Dave Bodaly is the Cultural Tour Guide at Sayshutsun (Newcastle Island) and a Snuneymuxw knowledge-sharer. He shares stories about the history of Snuneymuxw (or Soliquen) and their many villages that pre-dated the arrival on non-Indigenous peoples. Dave is a Knowledge Keeper, photographer, harvester, tour guide, genealogist — and a weaver of cedar bark. Let him share his knowledge of the area’s history and stories as passed down through oral tradition.
Nov. 26, Dec. 3 & 17

Nov. 27 & Dec. 11 – Literacy Nanaimo – Craig The Magician
12:30 & 2:00 pm
A show filled with engaging fun for the entire family! Craig The Magician has been bringing family-wide wonder and laughter to malls, fairs, and festivals across BC for over 20 years, and has created an easy to host show that makes it a breeze to bring all the laughs and smiles to your faces! Craig is known for his unique sense of interactive humour that brings a special feel to each show! He’ll have a special gift for everyone who attends these Winterfest shows.
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