Mahone Bay rings in the season with Father Christmas Festival

by Brittany Wentzell

  • <p>FILE PHOTO</p><p>One of last year&#8217;s handmade Father Christmases.</p>

Mahone Bay's Father Christmas Festival returns this week with some fan favourite events as well as some all new features.

"It really is all about hand-made, these Father Christmases are hand-made works of art and it has a very special feeling when you come ... it's a beautiful experience," said Karen Pinsent with the Father Christmas committee.

This year event-goers will be able to take tours of the town in the new Reindeer Flyer, a festive road train that will stop all over Mahone Bay along an hour long route during the weekends of the festival.

"It will be connecting all of our shops and businesses and our community events that are happening," said Pinsent.

In the past horse-drawn wagons were used, though not for several years. The train carries 56 people, a much bigger capacity than the wagon tours were able to handle.

The festival also boasts a new way to perhaps work off some of the event's sugar cookies and hot chocolate - a three kilometre fun run. The Reindeer Fun Run takes place on the second of the two weekend-long festival. On December 2, approximately 200 runners will line Mahone Bay's streets and run in their favourite festive clothing. The start and stop is located at the civic marina.

The proceeds of the race are going to The Lodge That Gives, which provides a place for those receiving cancer treatment in Halifax to stay.

The festival will once again feature the Home for the Holidays tour which will include four homes plus a bonus home - the "Grinch's Grotto," the newly renovated Visitor Information Centre. The VIC suffered damage after a small fire earlier this year.

"Rumour has it the Grinch is going to make some appearances at the festival," Pinset said.

The home tour will also last longer in the evening as well, which Pinsent says gives the town a more festive appeal.

"The town looks so beautiful at night all lit up."

Life-sized Father Christmases will be all over town this year instead of just in one location. Pinsent says it was time to take a break from their Fantasy Experience, where the characters were part of an overall theme, but there will be plenty of photo opportunities across town.

"It was sort of a feature of the festival each year," said Pinsent. "There won't be a Fantasy Experience but the upside of that is that there are going to be Father Christmases throughout the shops, around town, in the gazebo."

Other returning features include children's activities at the Mahone Bay Museum, caroling, a tree-lighting ceremony, and the second One Size Fits All art show, an art sale featuring hundreds of small pieces of art by artists from across the South Shore.

"That one is back by popular demand," said Pinsent.

This is also the first Father Christmas Festival since the untimely passing of Heather and Dr. David Abriel. Pinsent says this year's festival is dedicated to the couple, who played Santa and Mrs. Claus for many years.

The Mahone Bay Father Christmas Festival officially opens at 6:30 pm on November 24 at the town bandstand with a tree lighting ceremony featuring carollers and bell ringers followed by a lantern parade and free hot cocoa. The festival continues through to December 4.

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