Festive Season in the Thompson Okanagan

‘Tis the Season

They call it the “most wonderful time of the year” for a reason. The fun snow, the food, get-togethers with family and friends, the food, holiday parties, the food, and of course all the bells and whistles and lights that come with the it!

Having two young kids means we get in the spirit early and swiftly! No three and six year old kids want to wait, it’s too exciting. Luckily, the Thompson Okanagan has events going all season long. Indoor and outdoor, extravagant or subtle. No matter how you celebrate the Holidays, you’re bound to find fun things to do.

We have a few favorites of our own, and there are plenty we still need to check off the list.

Holiday Markets & Winter Light Ups

My favourite way to start the Season off is to head to one of the many holiday markets that pop up. Anywhere from Oliver, up to Salmon Arm, there’s a good chance you’ll find something fun. We like to hit the East Kelowna Farmer’s Market as well as the Downtown Winter Street Market. There are great light ups and Markets in Salmon Arm and Summerland as well. A great way to buy from a local company, reduce your waste and have a unique gift for a loved one.

CP Holiday Train

Another classic event is the CP Holiday Train. With stops in Kamloops (Tk'emlups), Salmon Arm, Savona, Sicamous, Chase and Canoe there are plenty of stops for anyone living on the north end of the Thompson Okanagan!

Wildlights Festival

Staying in the Thompson area, there are two great events close to Kamloops, one being a great family event, while the other caters to the 19+ crowd!

The BC Wildlife Park in Kamloops is a fun trip on a normal day. Under the lights of over 600,000 lights, it changes into a whole new experience! With the mini train, a nutcracker maze, an ugly sweater contest, cookie baking contests and of course all the cool animals, the Wildlights Festival is a crowd-pleaser. It runs from December 14-January 6, so you have plenty of time to check it out.

Winter Okanagan Wine Festival

Speaking of crowd pleasers, if you haven’t been up to Sun Peaks before, I highly suggest it! It’s a beautiful hill to ski and a great little village to hang out in. Everything is close, within walking (or skiing) distance. We love it there at all times of the year. However, the big event to get to is the Winter Okanagan Wine Festival, running January 11-20. What’s not to love about a great day on the hill followed by one of the many fun events put on over the week?

Festival of Trees

Finally, an event we checked out last year during its inaugural showing, the Festival of Trees at Mission Hill Winery in West Kelowna. With proceeds going to the BC Children’s Hospital, it’s a great way to check out the lights, while doing something good! With beautiful views inside and out, it’s very high on my suggestion list!

However you celebrate the holidays, do it safely, think of others, try to keep things local and get out and enjoy the chilly weather!

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Matt Ferguson is a BC born and raised photographer, currently living in Kelowna. When his camera isn't strapped to him, you can usually find him at the beach with his family, skipping rocks or if it's cold enough, strapping on some skates and hitting a frozen pond.

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