On December 2, from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. in Abbotsford’s historic downtown core, the 28th annual Winter Jubilee kick-started the local holiday season. This free holiday celebration featured the arrival procession of Mr. Claus and Mrs. Claus, followed by the official Abbotsford downtown Christmas tree lighting at 6:00 p.m. that evening.
Live performances on the main stage included local artists and organizations Creative Edge, Danceworx, the Cadet Band, Ryan McAllister, and Kyler Pierce and the Spice Elves. A craft beer and wine garden was available, provided by Old Yale, Fieldhouse, and Ravens brewing companies. Appearances in addition to the jolly man in red included Frosty the Snowman, various reindeer, and even Olaf and the Grinch.
Most downtown businesses remained open to join in the celebration, and had a hand in producing an entertaining experience for everybody. The numerous attractions included performances in the middle of the street by organizations such as RopeWorks, which had kids demonstrating their fancy jump rope skills. Classic Christmas music could be heard over loudspeakers when the live carolers were absent. Also, various selfie stations were set up, including one with a fake snow machine provided by RBC. In addition, the event was very family friendly, boasting a bouncy castle, face painting, and pony rides for children.
Along Montrose Avenue, vendors could be found by the dozen in markets hosted by both the Abbotsford Arts Council and local downtown business Spruce Collective.
Spruce Collective’s market was placed alongside the Arts Council Market featuring a curated list of local vendors and artisans selling their handmade wares and vintage finds. The featured vendors included big names in the local scene such as Confetti Floral Design, Locomotive Clothing Co., New Moon Tea Co., Wildflower Botanicals, and the Wild Outdoors Club.
Attendees were encouraged to stick around for the entire event, with the promise of a festive fireworks display at 8:30 p.m., which did not disappoint. Unfortunately, the event was not graced with the luxury of dry weather. By the end, most attendees were soaking wet, and hurried off to their vehicles as soon as the fireworks ended. Despite the cold and wet conditions, the rain certainly did not put a damper on the spirit of the event, and in a way, was quite representative of a West Coast Christmas.
Winter Jubilee was hosted by Discover Downtown Abbotsford, and was presented by Tourism Abbotsford, Coast Capital Savings, and Upper Montrose. Various Abbotsford clubs and associations lined the streets, in addition to the vendor markets and food trucks. UFV also had a booth promoting our programs, and also offering cookie decorating and crafts for kids.
It is not often that Abbotsford has the capacity to bring people together like this. Previous year’s Christmas tree lighting ceremonies have proved dull, and have seen a visible decrease in attendance. This event, in conjunction with the success of this past summer’s Berry Beat Festival, could see the low turnouts turning on its heel, and encourage Abbotsford residents to take pride in their community events again.