Updated for 2017! The following list is a round-up of the best Mid-Island Christmas activities and events happening in the Nanaimo and Oceanside areas.
Oceanside Christmas Activities & Events
Milner Christmas Magic
For a family-oriented festival of lights and music, head to Milner Gardens in Qualicum Beach. Wander around the lighted trails and gardens and enjoy the Teddy Bear’s cottage, Santa’s Den, and Gingerbread House display. At the Milner House, you can also enjoy storytelling, a Christmas gift shop, local musicians, and of course their tearoom.
Location: 2179 West Island Hwy, Qualicum Beach.
- December 1 – 3, 8-10, 15-20
- From 5:00 – 8:30 pm
Cost: Entry is by donation, with a minimum suggestion of $5.00 per adult and $2.50 per child.
Winter Wonderland Skate
The Regional District elves have been busy transforming Oceanside Place Arena into a Winter Wonderland. Enjoy special lighting and décor, along with a touch of holiday magic, that makes you feel as though you’re skating on an outdoor pond under the light of the stars.
Location: 830 Island Hwy, Parksville
When: Join them for a variety of public skate sessions from December 15 to 31.
There are a few Winter Wonderland Sponsored Skates (which means FREE admission)
- Saturday, December 16 from 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Toy Drive and FREE Everyone Welcome Skate
Sponsored by Todd Sjogren, BMO Financial Group & Anthony MacAulay, Notary Public Corp.
- Sunday, December 17 from 12:15-1:45 pm
FREE Family Skate
Sponsored by Parksville Lions & Save On Foods
- Saturday, December 23 from 10:00 am – noon
FREE Everyone Welcome Skate
Sponsored by Gord Johns, MP
- Sunday, December 24 from 1:00-3:00 pm
FREE Everyone Welcome Skate
Sponsored by Tim Horton’s
Magical Nights of Light
For the third year, the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre is lighting up their grounds with a fabulous display of laser lights. It’s a magical display for the whole family. There is also hot chocolate to enjoy and Santa may be there too!
Location: 1240 Leffler Road, Errington.
When: Fridays and Saturday evenings only (from 6:00 – 8:00 pm) from December 8 – 23.
Cost: Admission is by donation, with a suggested donation of $5.00 per adult (children 12 and under are free).
Echo Players Live Theatre
The Christmas Express: This nostalgic theatrical Christmas show is full of eccentric small-town characters, wise-cracking their way to finding the true wonder of Christmas.
Location: Village Theatre – 110 W 2nd Ave, Qualicum Beach
When: December 14 – 31. The shows run:
- Wednesday – Saturday evenings (start time 7:30 pm)
- Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm
To purchase tickets, please visit the website of ECHO Theatre.
Community Christmas Banquet
Enjoy a FREE Christmas dinner at the Christian Fellowship Centre in Qualicum. Enjoy turkey, ham, and all the fixings, as well as a table full of desserts.
Location: 825 Village Way, Qualicum Beach
When: Friday, December 15 from 5:00 – 8:00 pm
Cost: FREE! Please bring an item for the homeless – they are looking for hats, scarves, mittens, jackets, sweaters, etc.
Christmas on the Farm
Head to Morningstar Farm for a good old-fashioned Christmas celebration. There will be carol wagon rides, live music, storytelling, and crafts. You can also enjoy a bonfire and marshmallows, hot cocoa and popcorn, a coffee at the pop-up cafe, and/or a mulled wine tasting.
Location: 403 Lowry’s Road, Parksville.
When: Saturday, December 16, from 10:30 am – 3:00 pm.
Cost: Free admission.
Christmas Concert at Errington Hall
Enjoy a wonderful mix of stories, skits, seasonal music and Christmas spirit for all ages. Bring your family and get in the mood for the holidays. Coffee and seasonal treats available from the kitchen.
Location: Errington Hall – 1390 Errington Road.
When: Saturday, December 16 at 7:30 pm (doors open at 7:00 pm).
Cost: Admission is by donation.
Christmas in the Country
Tiger Lily Farm transforms their Covered Riding Arena into a fun winter wonderland, full of trees and friends. Join them for hot chocolate & a cookie while the kids enjoy a pony ride through the Indoor Forest. Bring your Camera for a visit with Santa, and while you are there, create an Evergreen Door Swag to take home. You can also dress up in their live interactive Nativity Scene in the Barn, and visit the animals. Make sure to stop by the Gift Shop for any last-minute shopping!
Location: 1692 Errington Road.
When: December 23 & 24, from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Cost: $6 per person, including taxes. Children under 2 are Free.
Nanaimo and Area Christmas Activities
Festival of Lights
Ladysmith will be ignited with the life of thousands of twinkling Christmas lights to get you into the Christmas spirit. This magical event kicks-off downtown Ladysmith Thurs. Nov 30th, at 3:00 pm. Santa will arrive 6:30 pm with the Parade at 6:45 pm followed by the Aggie Hall & Christmas Tree light-up. Fireworks at 8 pm! Street entertainment, food concessions, Christmas Craft Fair, LIVE entertainment on stage, shopping and more!
For those that can’t make it to the lighting up ceremony, the dazzling display of lights will be on until January 10.
Location: Downtown Ladysmith
B. Gallant Homes has created a gingerbread house cookie decorating event for children and families in support of the Salvation Army. Join them at Santa’s Workshop (aka the Vancouver Island Conference Centre) where they have all the ingredients you need to design your delicious dream home (while supplies last). And then vote for your favourite.
Location: 3rd Floor of the Vancouver Island Conference Centre – 101 Gordon Street, Nanaimo
When: Saturday’s (December 2, 9, & 16) from 12:00 – 4:00 pm
Cost: Admission is by donation, with a suggested minimum donation of $5.00. All proceeds go to the Salvation Army to help shelter community members in need.
Nanaimo’s Santa Claus Parade
Join the annual Nanaimo Lions Santa Claus Parade. The parade is from Victoria Road to Victoria Crescent, to Commercial St to Front St and Comox Rd. Visit Santa before the parade at Gingerbread Village in V.I.C. Center 101 Gordon St.
Location: Downtown Nanaimo
When: Saturday, December 2 @ 5:00 pm
Free Photo’s with Santa (Camo Style!)
Head to Cabela’s for a chance to see Santa in his camo gear, and while you are there get a free photo that is sure to be the talk of the Christmas season!
Location: Cabela’s – 6902 North Island Hwy, Nanaimo.
- December 2 & 3 from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
- December 9 & 10 from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Singing Christmas Tree
Generations Church presents the 25th Annual Singing Christmas Tree. Their giant tree is filled with a 50 voice choir singing new and old Christmas songs. This, along with a drama presentation and light show, is sure to get you in the Christmas spirit. This year’s performance tells the story of one family’s Not So Perfect Christmas. It is a story we can all relate to.
Location: Generations Church – 1300 Princess Royal Avenue, Nanaimo.
Friday, December 8 & 15 – 7:00 pm
Saturday, December 9 & 16 – 4:00 & 7:00 pm shows
Sunday, December 10 & 17 – 4:00 & 7:00 pm shows
Cost: Tickets are FREE, but you must get a ticket in advance to the show you wish to attend. Tickets can be picked up at the following locations:
- Generations Church – 1300 Princess Royal Ave, Nanaimo (behind Terminal Park Mall). Office Hours: Monday – 9:00 am – 1:00 pm, and Tuesday-Friday – 9:00 am- 5:00 pm
- The Buzz Coffee House – 1861 Dufferin Crescent (Across the street from Country Grocer off of Bowen Road) Monday to Saturday – 7:00 am to 5:00 pm
- Christian Book & Music Centre – #2-1200 Princess Royal Ave. Monday-Thursday & Saturday – 9:00 am – 5:30 pm, Friday – 9:00 am-9:00 pm.
For more information, and the ability to get tickets online, go to the website of Generation Church .
Skate with Santa
Three sessions to choose from. Join Nanaimo Parks & Rec for a skate with Santa, prizes, draws and some hot chocolate and treats.
Location & Times:
- Wednesday, December 20 from 6:30 – 8:00 pm at the Frank Crane Arena (2300 Bowen Road) – regular admission rates apply.
- Thursday, December 21 from 6:15 – 7:45 pm at the Nanaimo Ice Centre (750 Third Street) – regular admission rates apply.
- Friday, December 22 from 3:45 – 5:15 at the Nanaimo Ice Centre – this one is a FREE event courtesy of Coast Capital Savings.
Winter Solstice Lantern Festival
Join in on this second annual event at the Colliery Dam! There will be a lantern-making table for kids to make floating lanterns that will then be taken out by kayak and raft into the lake to light up the water. Please feel free to bring your own lantern (extra candles will be available). There will also be a poi spinning performer, as well as a face painter. Captain Ange from Pirate Chips Nanaimo will have her food truck at the park. And there will be a special appearance from Santa!
Non-perishable food donations for the Loaves and Fishes food bank will be accepted, and they will be collecting donations to give to the Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society’s Youth Program.
Make sure to dress appropriately for the elements and bring a fold-up chair as seating will be limited. Parking is also limited, but people can park on the street.
Location: Colliery Dam Park – 645 Wakesiah Ave, Nanaimo
When: Thursday, December 21 – start time at 3:30 pm
Dunk with Santa
This is an Aquatic Centre special event. Be on your best behaviour with Santa in the pool…or, show him how naughty you can be by trying to dunk him in the tank!
Location: Nanaimo Aquatic Centre – 741 Third Street
When: Saturday, December 23 from 3:00 – 5:00 pm
Cost: Regular admission rates apply.
Winter Wonderland Skate – Nanaimo
Frank Crane Arena will be transformed into a fantasy setting. These skate sessions only cost a loonie (some are even free!). Admission includes all skate and helmet rentals. Drop in during any of the public skate times with your friends, family or co-workers. All sessions are ‘Everyone Welcome’ unless otherwise stated.
Location: Frank Crane Arena – 2300 Bowen Road, Nanaimo.
When: December 26 – 30
Tuesday, December 26
- 11:45 am-3:00 pm
Wednesday, December 27
- 9:00 am – 12:00 pm – Winter Wonderland Pancake Breakfast
- 11:45 am-4:45 pm
- 7:45 – 9:30 pm
Thursday, December 28
- 11:45 – 4:45 pm
- 7:45 – 9:30 pm
Friday, December 29
- 11:45 – 4:45 pm
7:45 – 9:30 pm
Saturday, December 30
- 11:45 – 4:45 pm
7:45 – 9:30 pm
For those looking for other areas of Vancouver Island, please follow us on Facebook. I will update the page with any Vancouver Island Christmas event and/or activity I come across.
If you feel I have missed an event for the Nanaimo or Oceanside areas, please let me know so that I can add it to the above list.