Holiday Spirit on a Budget: See the Lights “

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Every Friday, from today until December 23, I’m going to post some of my favourite ways to get into the holiday spirit on a budget. While some posts will be generic for all readers, I am also dying to share some of the best free or cheap events in my hometown! Today’s post is going to be one of those posts. Get out your calendars, Victorians, and writes these dates down:

Thursday, November 24, 2011 @ 3:00 p.m. – Ladysmith Festival of Lights
Ok, the Ladysmith Festival of Lights isn’t exactly in Victoria, but it’s worth driving 45 minutes to 1 hour for! In its’ 24th year, this annual event has put Ladysmith on the map. Starting at 3:00 p.m. with a community dinner and craft fair, the downtown streets are filled with entertainment and food vendors. From 5-6:15 p.m., there will be a stage full of entertainment, while everyone waits for the Big Man to light-up Ladysmith at 6:30 p.m.! Then is it over!? No way. Walk through downtown in awe of the 200,000 sparkling lights, until you arrive at Aggie Hall for the fireworks. And pet owners: leave the pups at home, for this event.

Saturday, November 26 @ 4:00 p.m. – Centennial Square Christmas Tree Light-Up
Every city should have at least one big Christmas tree for passersby to see and you’ll find Victoria’s in Centennial Square. Next Saturday, join the Downtown Victoria Business Association and City of Victoria for the 4th annual Christmas Tree Light-Up. Enjoy musical performances, ice sculptures, and free treats from downtown restaurants, before walking down to Government Street for the Island Farms Santa’s Light Parade.

Saturday, November 26 @ 5:45 p.m. – Island Farms Santa’s Light Parade
The Island Farms Santa’s Light Parade draws crowds of more than 40,000 to the streets of Victoria – not bad, considering the parade only goes down one street. Bands, floats, and Santa will leave the Parliament Buildings at 5:45 p.m. and travel north on Government Street, reaching Capital Iron at 6:30 p.m. There, kids will meet Santa and non-perishable food donations can be made to the Mustard Seed Food Bank. Too chicken to bundle up and hang outdoors? You can also watch the parade on CHEK News from 6-7:00 p.m.

Sunday, November 27 @ 3:00 p.m. – Oak Bay Christmas Festival
If you’re not light-up’d out after Saturday, head down to Oak Bay Village on Sunday for the 11th annual Christmas Festival. Live music and entertainment starts at 3:00 p.m. and the village will be lit-up at 5:00 p.m. Don’t leave until you’ve gotten your picture taken with Santa and tried a traditional roasted chestnut. And if your kids have written their letters and wish lists to Santa, a decorated Canada Post delivery truck will be ready to take them away!

Saturday, December 3 @ 5:45 p.m. – Lighted Truck & Ship Parade
Of course, the best is saved for last! The Truck Light Parade & Food Drive is an event no Victorian or visitor should miss. Leaving Ogden Point at 5:45 p.m., the trucks travel down Dallas Road, through Fairfield and Oak Bay Village, down Yates, up Douglas to Highway 1, through Colwood, into Langford, arriving at Western Speedway around 8:15 p.m. There, admission is by cash or non-perishable food donation and coffee, hot chocolate, and hot dogs are available by cash donation.

If you don’t head out to Western Speedway, get down to the Inner Harbour and check out the boats! The Causeway marina will be alight from the moored boats and kids can enjoy free candy canes and hot chocolate by donation while watching the boats and waiting for a special appearance from Santa! How this whole event is only in it’s 13th year is beyond me; I feel like I’ve been watching since I was a kid!

Does your city offer similar free family events and light-ups?

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