GUEST COLUMN: Preparing for the Festival of Lights

Okanagan’s premier holiday event set for Nov. 24

GUEST COLUMN: Preparing for the Festival of Lights

Every year the community of Summerland hosts the Okanagan’s premier kick off to the Christmas season. 2017 marks 30 years for the annual Festival of Lights.

It will be held on Friday, Nov. 24 this year and we are expecting a record attendance for the evening.

Elsewhere in North America the last Friday of November is widely known as Black Friday — the most popular discount shopping day of the year.

And while you may also see great deals at local merchants, Summerland isn’t generally going head to head with national chains.

Summerland merchants win and keep their customers through offering beautiful and unique products in a boutique environment in our charming downtown.

They do it with terrific service and a delightful shopping experience.

They know many of their customers personally and they are difference makers in our community.

Over the past few years we’ve seen how these merchants have taken over our downtown streets.

Stores are filled with designer fashions, gifts and collectibles, antiques, craft and hobby supplies, jewellery, and the most delicious food. So filled in fact, that there is only one empty downtown building still available for a new storefront to open.

American speaker Roger Brooks is well known in Canada and the US for his work in downtown revitalization in communities large and small.

He has found that there is a 10/10/10 rule that operates in successful downtowns.

You need to have at least 10 boutiques (we have many more than that), 10 eateries (we’re very close) and 10 places open in the evening (something to aim for.)

Downtowns support their merchants by animating their spaces with activity that brings people. Events are one option for this.

With Light Up we can celebrate the season, showcase our beautiful downtown and our local merchants, and let our thousands of out-of-town guests know that Summerland is a great place to live.

All your favourite Light Up attractions are back for 2017.

You can read all about the activities, entertainment and fantastic food from more than 50 vendors at www.summerlandlightup.com.

Please pick up a brand new Festival program at a local merchant this week or from a Summerland Princess during the festival to see where all the activities are located and to see all our amazing sponsors.

Lots of handicapped parking is available on Main Street (access from Rosedale) but otherwise the downtown streets are closed to parking to ensure guest safety.

Please walk if you’re close by or carpool with your neighbours.

Remember to check the online maps for parking lots and street parking options.

There’s an amazing amount that goes on behind the scenes in order to organize a festival of this size and it wouldn’t happen without the participation of the District of Summerland.

The festival simply could not go forward without their tremendous support.

We hope to see you celebrating this milestone Light Up anniversary downtown on November 24. If it lights up, wear it!

We always appreciate your feedback. Please contact me at cpetkau@summerlandchamber.com or our Chamber President, Erick Thompson, at president@summerlandchamber.com .

Christine Petkau is the Executive Director of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Summerland.

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