A White Rock woman is once again transforming the city into a festive Christmas village fashioned after her own European upbringing.
On Nov. 26, city streets and shops will undergo a metamorphosis for the third annual Christmas on the Peninsula Festival, under the guidance of Liv Butow.
The festival was the brainchild of Butow, who saw a need for a more traditional Christmas atmosphere in White Rock, like the kind she experienced growing up as a girl guide in Norway.
“We would walk to the city centre with the big Christmas tree and it would not be lit yet, and the mayor would make his big speech and we would all dance and hold hands, walking around the tree,” Butow said.
“I have always loved traditions, and they had these great traditions in Norway with the Christmas trees, carolers and parades. To me, it was the dream Christmas.”
In 2009, after years of pining for her traditional celebration, Butow finally took action in the city, which she says is the perfect backdrop for her Christmas extravaganza.
“White Rock does feel like a village. I know they call it the city by the sea, but to me, it’s more of a village with a view. It lends itself perfectly to an event like this,” Butow said. “I’m passionate about this because I had that as a child and I would love for it to happen in White Rock – a Christmas scene, a la Charles Dickens.”
The festival also provides a boost to store owners who face a business slump when the weather turns cold.
“Eventually we can draw tourists to come and see the festival and the carolers, and then at the same time, they will go and buy their Christmas presents,” she said.
After a year of planning, Butow and her board of directors are now putting the final touches on the festival, which will include three separate locations: the Town Centre Walk-about, the White Rock Community Centre Christmas Market and the Christmas Fair at Miramar Village Plaza.
Butow suggests people start off at the Town Centre, which will include Christmas tree displays at WorldServe Thrift store, art activities at 4Cats Arts Studio, storytelling, gingerbread house decorating and music, from there people can walk to the other locations.
“There is something for everybody. People can go from place to place to place, walking and seeing everything,” Butow said.
Butow’s dedication to her goal of having a perfect Christmas village has paid off and, for the first time since its inception, the event has a full organizing committee, with people already signing up for the following year.
Despite the growing interest and the possible expansion of the festival, Butow said she is determined to make sure the event is organized properly, with attention paid to every detail.
“People may wonder why we’re not moving faster and faster and getting bigger and bigger right away. But we need to get the grounding right first. We need to ensure that we have an organizing committee properly in place, with everyone knowing what they’re doing, to ensure a good quality experience,” she said.
“We will go slowly and get it just right – we’re not rushing into anything.”
Activities begin at 9 a.m., for a full list of events and times go to http://christmasonthepeninsula.com/schedule-of-events/