Welcome to BizBash's new column, covering Canada’s biggest event news from coast to coast. Got a tip? Get in touch!
Alberta: Edmonton’s Winter Wonder Forest is offering drive-up visits with Santa, Mrs. Claus, and reindeer, as well as outdoor concerts throughout the month. The event transformed 115,000 square feet of The Rainbow Valley campground into a light-up holiday drive-thru experience to raise funds for the True Start Foundation, an Albertan nonprofit that develops educational resources, emergency financial resources, and social support programs to alleviate poverty. Visitors can also complete a forest scavenger hunt from their vehicles, drop off food donations, participate in a virtual vendors market, or book a video call with Santa.
British Columbia: “An Immersive Christmas Carol,” a new audiovisual exhibit, opened at Vancouver’s Roedde House Museum on Dec. 8. The Victorian-era house, which was owned by Vancouver’s first bookbinder, Gustav Roedde, has been turned into the home of Ebenezer Scrooge, guiding guests on a walking tour through the classic Charles Dickens novel. Local production companies Famous Artists Limited and Epson LightScene collaborated to combine light, lasers, music, staging, and sound effects to bring the clanking chains, ghostly apparitions, and echoes of the Christmas past, present, and future to life. The 45-minute tour is limited to five people at a time.
Ontario: For the first night of Hanukkah, The Congregation Machzikei Hadas, an Ottawa-based synagogue, is presenting "LIT: A Drive-In Hanukkah Experience." The two services, which take place in the venue's parking lot this evening, will feature a giant Menorah lighting, a pyrotechnic drive-thru photo booth, and kosher doughnuts, latkes, hot chocolate, and other Hanukkah treats delivered to vehicles. All attendees will receive glow sticks and light-up necklaces before turning into the presentation via their car radios; people are encouraged to drop off donations for Ottawa Kosher Food Bank, Warm Socks Drive, and A Ripple Effect Toy Drive.
Quebec: Quebec City’s Le Grand Marché, a gourmet food market, opened its second annual Christmas market Dec. 3. Shoppers can visit 30 permanent vendors, as well as a different rotation of guest merchants each week in December—including Quebecoise arboretum, jewelry, ceramics, and arts and crafts businesses. The market also features fireplaces and a giant screen projecting Santa, who will be video chatting with children from the North Pole. Year-round, the market hosts local butchers, bakers, chocolatiers, cheesemakers, pastry chefs, and more.
Ceremonies remembering the women murdered during the École Polytechnique massacre 31 years ago took place on Dec 6. Across from Ottawa’s Minto Park. Happy Goat Coffee provided roses for gatherers to lay at the Women’s Monument, while a candlelit vigil and procession was led by the Women's Event Network, which organizes anti-violence campaigns throughout the year. In Montreal, mourners in limited capacities rallied at Place-du-6-Décembre park to speak about stricter gun control and action to address violence against women in vulnerable communities, while beams of light illuminated the city sky from the Mount Royal lookout point.
Now in its 16th year, the annual Andy Kim Christmas Special comes to Canadians everywhere via CityTV and Live Nation’s website on Dec. 19. The two-hour music special will broadcast from Toronto’s El Mocambo, and feature some of the country’s most celebrated musicians including the Barenaked Ladies, Broken Social Scene, Buffy Sainte-Marie, City and Colour, Jully Black, Ron Sexsmith, Sarah McLachlan, and Serena Ryder. Viewers are encouraged to donate to Crew Nation, CAMH Gifts of Light, and Food Banks Canada throughout the program.
Global Citizen, an international advocacy group focused on ending extreme poverty, announced that Ryerson University student Yanique Brandford has won the Global Citizen Prize: Canada Hero Award. The second annual award ceremony, hosted by John Legend, will be broadcast via CTV on Dec. 19. Brandford founded Help A Girl Out, a Toronto-based nonprofit dedicated to providing impoverished communities with access to feminine hygiene products and ending the stigma around menstruation.
"Whatever platform the client chooses, you need someone to run the back end, to switch the cameras, go live here, go live there, do the interviews, do the graphics. Don't think your staff should run a Zoom call. You really need someone to engage them, you need someone that's going to keep the party going. ... Don't leave this to your staff who want to have a good time. Get someone in there who can be interactive and engaging."
—Saskatchewan-based event planner Lisa Peters, speaking to CTV about preparing for virtual corporate holiday parties.
On the Scene
Santa and Mrs. Claus waved to vehicles traveling through the Winter Wonder Forest in Edmonton.