Celebrate the Season at Illuminate Maple Ridge
A 2023 story sponsored by the City of Maple Ridge
It’s easy to feel overly busy and slightly stressed when the holidays roll around. There’s suddenly too much to do and too little time to do it. But this year, why not slow down and rediscover what the season is supposed to be about: magical quality time with your loved ones and a feeling of shared celebration with the community.
And the best way to do that? Discover the sparkling Christmastime activities and family-friendly holiday happenings in Maple Ridge. Less than an hour’s drive from Vancouver, there’s a hugely expanded, mostly free menu of holly jolly events and attractions here this year under the brand new Illuminate Maple Ridge banner.
What’s it all about?
Running from November 24 to January 5, Illuminate Maple Ridge is a community-wide Christmastime initiative that aims to bring the holiday spirit to life for locals and festive-minded visitors. A chestnut-warming collaboration between businesses, organizations, residents and the City, it’s filled with sugar-plum-sweet things to see and do––with lots of great seasonal memories to be made along the way.
Lighting up the city
With a name like Illuminate Maple Ridge, there obviously needs to be some lights involved. And this year, a shimmering array of local shops, eateries and organizations will be decorating themselves in top-notch twinkling finery. City Hall is leading the way by decorating its six-storey office tower with glittering bulbs, dramatic floodlights and vibrant colour displays.
At the same time, more than 20 local businesses––from Bean Around Books to Hansel & Gretel Bakery and from Gina’s Sandwich & Coffee to Town & Country Vintage Home––are joining in the fun by creatively decorating their storefronts and windows with selfie-ready lights and decorations.
You can find each display via the self-guided Candy Cane Tour Map (available as a download or printed pick-up). And if you snap photos of the decorations and post them on social media––using the hashtag #illuminatemapleridge––you might even win a great prize! Read more about the contest here.
What else is on?
Ready to dive in? Start with December 2’s Winterfest and Santa Parade event. From 4:00pm to 8:00pm, this heartwarming free event invites everyone to kick-off the holidays in style. It’s a great opportunity to reveal your wackiest Christmas sweater to the world––perhaps with a glow-in-the-dark Rudolph-themed toque for added appeal.
Centred on downtown’s Memorial Peace Park, the festival includes live music, food trucks and special photo opportunities with both Santa and the Grinch. There will also be a market with local arts, crafts, treats and more. And you can warm-up inside at the nearby ACT Art Gallery where a 65-artist mixed media exhibit will also be on display––alongside some kid-friendly winter-themed craft activities.
The big highlight of the festival is the 20th annual Santa Claus Parade. Weaving through the streets from 6:00pm onwards, watch for decorated floats, holiday characters, marching bands and the guest star finale of the Jolly Old Elf himself. Your kids (and you!) will be cheering for Christmas like never before.
And there’s more!
The rest of the Illuminate Maple Ridge season is packed like a bulging Christmas stocking with things to do. The storefront displays, shimmering lights and Candy Cane Tour run throughout the season, of course. But why not open your holiday calendar to a few more local events?
On December 9 and 10, Ballet Victoria will be on stage at the ACT Arts Centre for two sparkling performances of Tchaikovsky’s seasonal classic The Nutcracker. Book ahead for what’s sure to be a hot ticket show.
And on December 17 at 7:00pm, beeline to the city’s Port Haney West Coast Express Station for a special appearance by the CP Holiday Train. Fully illuminated and decorated, this grand locomotive has travelled across the country to be here and it’s always a delight when it pulls up to the platform. With live music, smiling families and a magical feeling of Christmastime bonhomie, it’s the perfect way to enjoy the season––just like Illuminate Maple Ridge itself.