While some folks in the Valley may be dreaming of a white Christmas, others are heading out to Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens where a winter wonderland has been created with thousands of Christmas lights.
Right from the moment visitors leave their cars they are greeted with a stunning display of lights that trim the entrance arbor, festoon Santa’s barn and hang from literally every tree and shrub.
But the lights do not stop there. Fountains are lit up with the glow of multi-colored lights, and the many pathways that wind their way through the gardens lead visitors from one spectacular to another.
Each year, as he has been doing for the past 28, Bryan Zimmerman, the owner of Woodland Gardens, seems to outdo himself as he keeps adding string after string of new lights, which he says are only a part of the Christmas experience in the gardens.
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.
“Over the years we have come to know many families who make us one of their stops during the holiday season,” said Zimmerman. “What we are seeing these days are the children, all grown up now, who are bringing their own children. That’s really heart-warming and makes the hundreds of hours stringing the lights all worthwhile.”
Even Santa 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. He’ll be there Dec. 15 and 16, and Dec. 20-23.
To help everyone really get into the Christmas spirit, there are also evening carol walks featuring the Cantiamo Chamber Ensemble. The walks begin at 7 p.m. on Dec. 22 and 23, starting near Santa’s barn and meandering 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.
The lights are turned on every night from 5 to 9 p.m., right through until Jan. 2. Regular garden admission applies; however, if you just want to visit Santa on the days he is there, a donation would be appreciated.
Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens is located on Whittaker Road, just 15 minutes north of Courtenay off the Old Island Highway.
For further information, visit www.woodlandgardens.ca or call 250-338-6901.