One of my favourite things about Christmas has always been the little holiday traditions that towns and communities come up with to help people celebrate the season.
Growing up, it was waiting around for Santa to come by in an old fire truck that blared sirens and flashed its lights all around the little community my family was living in at the time — we actually continued to wait for Santa long after we had grown up and left home, at least until my parents moved.
Here in Summerland, we have the Festival of Lights, but we also have something that just sounds magical: the Kettle Valley Steam Railway’s Christmas Train.
Trains have always had some kind of a connection to Christmas, be it in the form of books, and movies, like the Polar Express, or in advertising, or even a few toy drives I’ve seen.
They speak back to a time when trains were more common and, more importantly, to an age of classic Christmas traditions and iconography. Even during the heat of summer it’s hard not to get a little nostalgic when I hear the whistle from the Kettle Valley Train fill the air.
The Christmas Express, for those not familiar with it, takes riders on a scenic trip along the valleys and gorges of Summerland, but with a Christmas twist. The train itself is lit up like, well, like a Christmas tree in a way that will inspire anyone who sees it — in fact I’m fairly sure I’ll be able to see it pass by from my new house, something that I’m quite excited to see.
Inside is no less Christmas-y. There is holiday music, Santa will be there and there will be no denying the magic and love of the season as you coast along the last remaining stretch of the Kettle Valley Railroad on an old steam train.
The train starts running on Friday, Dec. 11 and runs until Dec. 22 for a total of 12 runs during that time. The full schedule and details can be found online at http://www.kettlevalleyrail.org/all-aboard/special-events/christmas-train/.
If you’ve got your plans all worked out, but are uncertain what to get that special someone in your life, there’s still lots of time to consider something made by one of our many local artists and artisans. The Summerland Art Gallery is holding their Season’s Sparkles 12 Gifts of Christmas sale until Dec. 24, which is a great chance to support local talent. The Artisans of the Okanagan shop on Main St. offers up a wide variety of locally made goods. There’s always something new and exciting happening there, so be sure to stop by often to make you don’t miss the gift of a lifetime.
Douglas Paton is a Summerland writer and musician. If you know of a local arts and culture event, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.