Changes in store for Yuletide Festival

Planning is already underway for one of Sylvan Lake’s favourite Christmas events.

Those in charge of hosting Sylvan Lake’s annual Christmas festival, the Spirit of Sylvan Yuletide Festival are excited for the changes in store for the annual event.

Despite still being months away, the organizational committee wants to have everyone in the know well before the event comes up on the calendar.

The committee has shuffled the dates of the festival to better work for the town, and to limit competition.

It will still be held over two days, but will no longer compete with the Festival of Trees event in Red Deer, according to Festival Chairman Graham Parsons.

“In the past few years our festival was held on the same weekend as the Festival of Trees, and it always drew people away,” explained Parsons, adding the Festival of Trees is Central Alberta’s big winter festival.

This year, the Spirit of Sylvan Yuletide Festival will be held on Dec. 1-2 beginning at 4 p.m.

The festival will be held in the new NexSource Centre, which will allow the event to spread out quite a bit more.

Parsons said it will be about three times the space they were in over the past few years.

The extra space will allow for changes in layout and the adding of new activities to the roster.

Crystal Graham, KidZone coordinator for the event, says the area will take on a different look, which will include the configuration of the entertainment stage and holiday market.

Both Graham and Parsons believe expansion into the foyer of the centre could be possible.

“The possibilities are endless,” said Graham.

The festival committee has also been working with the Town of Sylvan Lake to better coordinate the Town sponsored events.

The Town has reorganized their Santa Claus Parade and fireworks to work in tandem with the festival.

The parade is planned to begin at 5 p.m. on Dec. 2 with the fireworks to follow at 6:15 p.m.

“Not only does this align better with the festival, but it gives our parade participants all day Saturday to get their floats ready and, as well, fewer parents have to rush home to get the kids ready for the event,” said Michelle Houle, special events coordinator with the Town of Sylvan Lake.

Parsons believes moving the parade will be beneficial for the patrons of the festival as well, and work as a great way to end the festival.

One part of the annual event that will not change is the charitable donation.

“It’s not about making money, it never has been,” said Parsons.

While the event itself is free, money raised through selling Christmas trees, auction items and raffle tickets will be donated to charity along with donations from sponsors. Over the past five years, the Yuletide Festival has donated over $50,000 the Sylvan Lake and District Urgent Care Committee, the Sylvan Lake Food Bank and the Sylvan Lake Christmas Bureau.