Nancy McFadden has an unusual shopping list this month. She is in charge of organizing the outdoor marketplace at the annual the Trek to Bethlehem in Bala and promises everything on display on Saturday, Dec. 5, would have been at a similar marketplace 2,000 years ago when Jesus was born in a stable.
“There will be copper items, which would have come from Egypt,” she says. “There will be silks and cotton that once came from traders passing through. We will have dates, apples, grapes, figs that would have been grown there at that time. All marketplaces of that time would have had chickens, goats, ponies and other animals.”
The first Trek to Bethlehem in Bala took place in December of 1993.
Patricia Gidley, of the trek committee, says, “Families come to the Trek expecting to see shepherds, Roman soldiers and the three wise men and that is what happens,” she says.
Several streets in Bala will be transformed into a biblical small town for that evening. Families gather at the Bala Community Centre to sing carols after 5:30 p.m. and join small groups led by costumed guides, starting at 6 p.m. They pass snarky Roman soldiers, meet the three wise men, shepherds and hear angels singing before being asked to pay their taxes. Finally, a prophet guides them to a manger scene with Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus.
The Bala Arena becomes the Bethlehem Inn for the evening, serving cocoa and snacks in the warm lobby. The event is free although donations are welcomed to help to cover costs.
Thank you Santa
Santa’s Village in Bracebridge welcomes families to enjoy winter fun in the days surrounding Christmas.
Pre-yuletide celebrations start with SantaFest Days from Dec. 19 to 22 and then kids can thank the jolly old fellow in person with Thank You Santa Days on Dec. 27 and 28. The village will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on each day.
Families will find aerial adventures, face painting, gingerbread cookie decorating, a petting farm, visits with Santa and much more all included in the price of admission.
In the spirit of Christmas, Santa’s Village staff will gladly accept any unwrapped toys for the local toy drive and non-perishable food items for the local food bank. Santa’s elves will deliver them following the event.
The next generation of Leahy performs
The Leahy Family Next Generation is visiting Huntsville’s Algonquin Theatre on Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. as presented by the Huntsville Festival of the Arts.
Featuring Doug Leahy, from the original Leahy Family, with his wife Jennifer and their children, the performance promises to bring lots of energy to the stage. Their live performances is filled with Celtic-based music, fiddle, cello, French accordion, singing, piano, and French-Canadian step-dancing. More information is available at www.huntsvillefestival.on.ca
Cheers to New Year
Gravenhurst is a hotbed of New Year’s Eve festivities on Dec. 31 as both the Opera House and Peter’s Players are hosting big events.
The New Year’s Eve Comedy Special Dinner and Show featuring Tim Nasiopoulos, Mike Rita and Adrian Cronk takes place at the Gravenhurst Opera House with doors opening at 6 p.m., a roast beef dinner catered by North Catering at 7 p.m. and then the comedy show beginning at 9 p.m.
There is also an after-party with music and party favours featuring WinnieBrave.
Please note, the stand-up comedy may contain strong language and/or content. Discretion is advised.
Meanwhile at Peter’s Players, The Best of Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) is taking place from 8 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. as performed by Canadian act Green River Revival.
Featuring all the CCR hits, great costumes and a solid storyline, The Best of Creedence Clearwater Revival promises to entertain.
In Huntsville, the annual New Year’s Eve fireworks at Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area will be taking place from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Featuring live music by Sean and Shane Connon, there will be free cookies and hot chocolate served for the family-friendly New Year’s celebration.
Plan your wedding
Getting married is one of the most exciting experiences in life. When it comes to planning for the big day, it can be challenging.
Luckily Muskoka has many talented service providers wishing to help make it the best experience ever.
The Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre in Gravenhurst is hosting its seventh annual wedding show on Jan. 16. The Muskoka Wedding Boutique takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“You get to come in to this magical facility and get to see an excellent venue. We have an amazing collection of vendors who come. We take time and effort to make sure we have a good mix of the people that you would need in order to plan your wedding,” says Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre operations manager Ann Curley.
“We do a fashion show as well, so we have a bridal fashion show and we have wonderful giveaways. It just showcases the talent that is here in Muskoka,” she says.
The 55 vendors range from those selling wedding dresses, caterers and photographers to event planners and decorators. In fact, Curley says many attendees make bookings at the show.
Travel by train
Over a thousand lights, hot chocolate, St. Nicholas and more await those who attend the annual Portage Flyer Christmas event.
Taking place on Dec. 19 at the Muskoka Heritage Place train station in Huntsville, the historic train will be travelling to and from the end of the line carrying kids of all ages to see Santa Claus. It runs from 6 to 8 p.m.
Referred to by staff members as a “supermagicated” event, hundreds of people head down to the historic train station located near the Active Living Centre to enjoy a ride to Santa’s workshop.
Visit www.muskokaheritageplace.org for more information.
And as Heritage Place manager Ron Gostlin always notes: “Don’t forget to dress extra warm as it is an outdoor, open coach train ride.”