All decked out and waiting for Santa. Making spirits bright during the holiday season has become a tradition in the Comox Valley for the past 29 years at Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens. Photo supplied

The Woodland Gardens Christmas experience returns this December

While some folks in the Valley may be dreaming of a white Christmas, others will be heading out to Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens where for 29 years a winter wonderland has been created with thousands of Christmas lights.

Right from the parking lot visitors will be greeted with a stunning display of lights that trim the entrance arbor, festoon Santa’s Barn and are hanging from literally every tree and shrub.

But the lights do not stop there. A walk along the many pathways will quickly get them into the holiday spirit as they are treated with one spectacular display after another.

Each year, Bryan Zimmerman, the owner of Woodland Gardens, seems to outdo himself as he keeps on adding string after string of new lights which he says are only a part of the Christmas experience in the gardens.

Santa Claus also makes a number of visits and is always eager to hear what is on every good little boy and girl’s wish list. His barn is decorated from floor to ceiling with fresh cedar bows, ornaments and, of course, a few Christmas trees that are just waiting to be surrounded by presents on the big day.

A visit with Santa in his barn has become a tradition for many Valley families and he wants everyone to know that he will be there from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 7/8, 14/15, 20/21 and 22/23. There will be lots of wishful thinking and smiling faces so don’t forget your camera.

To help everyone really get into the Christmas spirit there are also evening Carol Walks featuring the Cantiamo Chamber Ensemble. The walks will take place on Dec. 22 and 23. They start at 7 p.m. near Santa’s Barn and from there meander along the festively lit pathways. While there are lots of lights it is always wise to bring a flashlight so you don’t stumble over one of Santa’s reindeer.

Making spirits bright is what Christmas at the Gardens is all about. On weekends there’s even hot chocolate, hot cider and hot dogs available to ward off the cool weather. Visitors can also warm up beside the roaring bonfire. Surrounded by log benches it makes for a perfect gathering place.

The tradition of a visit to Woodland Gardens for many Valley families began years ago when the gardens operated as a cut-your-own Christmas tree farm.

Since then the gardens have changed and rather than cut trees visitors are encouraged to enjoy the natural woodland setting. However, what has not changed is the opportunity to have a family outing, sing a few carols and visit Santa.

“Over the years we have come to know many of the families who make us one of their stops during the holiday season,” said Zimmerman. “What we are seeing now are the children, all grown up, who are bringing their own families. That‘s really heart-warming and makes the hundreds of hours stringing the lights all worthwhile.”

The lights are turned on every night from 5-9 p.m. from Dec. 1 to Jan. 1. Regular garden admission applies; however, it is $10 when the Cantiamo Chamber Ensemble is performing.

Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens is located on Whittaker road just 15 minutes north of Courtenay off the Old Island Highway. For further information visit the website or call 250-338-6901.

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