Yuletide Festival returning later this month

Heavy snowfall earlier this week created a festive feeling around town, with many Sylvan Lakers now turning their attention to the Spirit

Heavy snowfall earlier this week created a festive feeling around town, with many Sylvan Lakers now turning their attention to the Spirit of Sylvan Yuletide Festival and Market Nov. 28 and 29.

The event, now in its third year, has typically taken place in both the Multiplex and the arena. This year, in the arena’s absence, it will take place at the Multiplex alone.

Despite having less space to work with, organizers are promising the event will be bigger and better than ever, with plenty of festive entertainment and activities to kick off the holiday season.

“We’ve got a variety of just everything,” said organizing committee chair Graham Parsons. “The primary function of the whole event is to put on a really nice Christmas festival for the public.”

The family-oriented festival will see plenty of Christmas-related entertainment taking place, including performances by various singers and choirs. There will also be a kids area, live and silent auctions, draws and a Christmas-themed market.

Plans for gingerbread house and ugly sweater contests were also being finalized at press time.

Parsons said organizers tried to include “everything about Christmas” in the festival, which began three years ago when former Sylvan Lake resident Earl Chadwick put forth the idea to Parsons.

“He saw the Santa Claus Parade, and he thought it would be a great idea for it to end at the Multiplex,” said Parsons. “When we almost lost the parade in 2011, I was thinking about it, and I talked to then-Councillor (Sean) McIntyre, who had put on festivals, and he said why not. So we formed a little committee back then in 2011 and we worked the whole year for the 2012 event.”

At that time, committee members were unsure of how their newly created festival would unfold, he added.

“We had a goal, but we didn’t know how we were going to get there.”

The absence of the festival’s previous hockey- and skating-related events will only be temporary, assured Parsons. They’ll return, and be accompanied by new events, upon the completion of the NexSource Centre, he said.

But organizers aren’t looking that far ahead just yet, and are focused on making this year’s event one to remember.

They’ve now got plenty of experience under their belts: A large majority of the festival’s organizing committee grouped together to organize the town’s Hockeyville festivities earlier this year.

It’s a group of people Parsons enjoys working with.

“It’s a fun committee, and everybody enjoys it,” he said.

As has been the case in previous years, proceeds from the festival and market will be donated to the Ambulatory Care Centre (formerly Urgent Care). The event, since its inception, has raised nearly $25,000 for that cause.

“There are a lot of charities that could use help, but this one affects the whole community and district, so that’s why we’re continuing with it,” said Parsons.

Up-to-date information on the festival, market and affiliated contests is available on the Spirit of Sylvan Yuletide Festival Facebook page.