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Current events from our area for Winter 2014/2015

Bala turns into Bethlehem for just one night

Every year Bala presents a gift to families who are looking for a way to get in the mood for Christmas. It’s called the Trek to Bethlehem, recreating the journey that Joseph and Mary made to Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, and it’s happening all over again on Saturday, Dec. 6.

A circle of Bala streets will be transformed into a biblical village where visitors journey back in time to experience what the first Christmas might have been like.

It all starts at the Bala Community Centre where visitors start lining up after 5:30 p.m. Small group tours start after 6 p.m., led by costumed guides. Along the way the tours meet cranky Roman soldiers, angels singing carols, shepherds with real sheep and a tax collector who demands taxes for Caesar Augustus. 

A highlight of the tour is an outdoor marketplace with live animals and chickens, plus items that might have been sold 2,000 years ago. The tour ends at a manger scene, followed by hot chocolate at the Bala Arena, which has become the Bethlehem Inn for the evening. 

Patricia Gidley, chief organizer for the trek, urges everyone to dress warmly. The trek is totally free, offered as a Christmas gift from the town of Bala. 

Enchanting trip by train to North Pole

Hop onto the Portage Flyer for an enchanted evening and a visit with Santa Claus on Saturday, Dec. 20. The train was once the world’s smallest commercial railroad operating from 1904 to 1959.

Visitors can make their way to the Muskoka Heritage Place Train Station to purchase their $5 ticket (tax included) and delight in complimentary cookies and hot chocolate while waiting for the train.

Travel along the Muskoka River in the opencab, Christmas light adorned steam train. Visitors make their way to Fairy Lake, where they depart to meet Santa Claus. Each trip takes approximately 20 minutes in total. 

The train will be running from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., with the last train leaving at 7:30 p.m. There are no advance ticket sales or advance seating.

It is advised that visitors dress warmly as the train has an open cab.

Scrooge performs across Muskoka

Scrooge The Concert is bringing Ebenezer Scrooge to Muskoka stages for a fun holiday show.

The story of Scrooge, the focal character of Charles Dickens’ novel from 1843, A Christmas Carol, has been told around the world in theatre plays, musicals and films on television and big screens. John Oliver Peel and Valerie Houston-Peel from the Temple Knights Productions based in Lake of Bays are bringing the story back to Muskoka with a completely new concept.

“We call it theatrical reading,” says Peel. “Our actors are in costumes, but read the story to the audience with the focus being on singing, not acting. With this concept we are able to take the play off the stages and into the churches.”

Peel saw this concept in a concert version of Les Miserables in London, England. 

“This will be family entertainment, a lot of fun. There are 18 people in the play, in the ages from seven to 70 years old. We even have three generations of one family; grandmother, mother and two daughters playing in the show.”

The music is composed by John Oliver Peel. 

Scrooge The Concert will debut on Nov. 29 at the Community Centre Theatre in Port Carling and can be seen on Dec. 6 at the Bracebridge United Church, on Dec. 13 at the Trinity United Church in Gravenhurst and finally on Dec. 20 at the Trinity United Church in Huntsville. All show times are 7 p.m. Contact info@templeknightsproductions.com for tickets. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the churches. The rest will be used to cover the production costs.

Santa drops by his summer home

Santa Claus is coming back for a quick visit to his summer home, Santa’s Village, this December for two separate celebrations. 

Santafest will begin Saturday, Dec. 20 and will continue until Monday, Dec. 22. The park will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Visiting is a great opportunity for kids to let Santa know what they are wishing for this Christmas. 

Then following Christmas, drop by for Thank Santa Day on Saturday, Dec. 27 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is a great chance for your kids to say “thank you” to Santa for such a wonderful Christmas and a fun way to keep the Christmas spirit alive a little longer with the festive feeling Santa’s Village has to offer.

Tickets are $8 for each event, with admission free for children under two years old. Tickets can be purchased upon arrival at the door.

Join in crafts, face painting, gingerbread cookie decorating, colouring, letter writing, a petting farm, bonfires, marshmallow roasting, horse-drawn sleigh rides from noon to 4 p.m. and, of course, visits with Santa. 

Photos with Santa, refreshments and Santa’s Gift Shoppe are all available. Join in for a cheery, festive, fun day out for the whole family. 

Plan your “I do”at wedding show

It’s the perfect day for a couple to plan their perfect big day: the Muskoka Wedding Show is back for its fifth annual show.

The Muskoka Boat and Heritage Centre will be holding the event Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are available at the door for purchase or by calling the Muskoka Heritage Centre office at (705)-687-2115.

With two fashion shows instead of one, this year is sure to be exceptional. The event will feature many new vendors, refreshments at frequent times, all-day live entertainment and photo stations.

“We’re mixing things up this year, but it’s going to be a great show,” says Cathy Tait from Muskoka Steamships.

Last year approximately 500 guests came for the event. 

The Muskoka Wedding Show is set to be up to ship-shape standards.

Santa ready to run in Bracebridge

Over 100 Santas will take to the street at Bracebridge’s first annual Rotary Santa Claus Run. 

The five kilometre fun run or walk will take place just before the Santa Claus Parade in downtown Bracebridge on Dec. 7.

“Every participant will receive a free Santa suit – this is hat, beard, jacket and pants,” says Michael Duben, organizer of the first Santa Claus Run in Bracebridge. “We are hoping for 200 runners in this first year and we have ordered 200 suits. If more registrations are coming in, we will order more suits,” he says.

Registration is open and everybody is invited to join and Duben hopes to make it an annual event. Contact Bracebridge Source for Sports or Bracebridge Sportsplex to register. 

The funds raised in Bracebridge will be used for Rotary projects.

“People seem to be very interested,” says Duben. “They are excited about this event.”

The first annual Rotary Santa Claus Run will start on Sunday, Dec. 7 at noon at Bracebridge Source For Sports.

Brighten up the winter night

The beautiful procession of lights that is the Christmas Eve Torch Light Parade, held at Hidden Valley Highlands and Ski Area, Huntsville, is right around the corner. The parade will be on Wednesday, Dec. 24. 

With approximately 200 guests last year, this event is festive and fascinating for the whole family. 

Snow school instructors and ski patrollers gracefully descend the Flying Dutchman ski hill carrying torches in a parade of lights, lasting five minutes on average. Even Santa Claus skis down the hill, handing out goodies to kids.

The Torch Light Parade has been a long-time tradition at Hidden Valley Highlands and Ski Area, beginning shortly after the ski club opened in 1971. Originally the parade was held on New Years Eve, but was switched to Christmas Eve for a more festive feeling. 

Guests can enjoy complimentary cookies and hot chocolate in the chalet from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. and then watch the parade from either inside the chalet or at the base of the Flying Dutchman at 6 p.m. 

Tobin Spring will be singing Christmas carols and playing guitar from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

“This is a great family event. Lots of people come and watch every year before they go to a family’s place to continue the festivities,” says Dawn Huddlestone, the communications and events manager at Hidden Valley Highlands and Ski Area.

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