Written by Artist Jeff Stackhouse, BFA.

Hello and welcome to your very special annual holiday article extravaganza.

I hope you are all almost ready for the 25th.  I have been doing well and have been doing lots of paintings and art and have been going to many movies and concerts!

I want to let you know about several (mostly) free events that are accessible to all this Christmas as well as an event to help you ring in the New Year.

I have personally gone to every event listed,  so if you have any questions feel free to message me at @jeffstackhouse@hotmail.com for more information.

I went in on the Santa Train from Mission to Vancouver this year and it is super fun. I would suggest taking it every year as it adds a great deal of magic to the holiday.  There is so much to see, like Christmas at Canada Place, Fly Over Christmas, The Vancouver Christmas Market, The Aurora Winter Festival, Gingerbread Lane and the Robson Square Christmas events.  They are all fully accessible to all, with every event having elevators for wheelchairs if needed.

Christmas at Canada Place is where you can see all of the old Woodward’s window displays. They all come to life and are full of wonderment.  There is a North Pole Santa scene and a Polar Bear scene. You will also see carolers and trees decorated by local businesses. This event is free.

Christmas at Fly Over Canada (aka “Fly Over Christmas”) is a great holiday treat where you fly over Santa’s workshop in a “ride” film.  It is 12 minutes and costs $20 but the experience is worth it.  There are free activities as well like free concerts, photo ops, and a gift shop.

The Vancouver Christmas Market is a truly wonderful experience, you get to see the Olympic Cauldron,  go on Vancouver’s only carousel, buy German food, drinks and decorations, and look at the lights and here Christmas carols sung live.  $12 per ticket.

The Aurora Winter Festival is another Christmas activity but it is not a market.  You can eat and drink and go sliding and skating. It’s a winter wonderland with new characters that roam the area like Disneyland.  $20 per ticket.

Gingerbread Lane (655 Burrard Street near Georgia inside the Hyatt Regency Hotel) is fantastic and free.  The gingerbread houses are incredible … unlike anything you have ever seen before.  One had stain glass windows and one was a scene from the Tim Burton classic film “The Nightmare Before Christmas” … WOW!

Last but not least do not forget to check out Robson Square where you can go to the Art Gallery ($12 per ticket), go skating ($6 rental fee), hear free concerts , see a massive Christmas tree (taller and bigger than Rockefeller Center in New York) and go inside a larger than life snow globe! It’s unreal!

For New Years Eve you may want to head into Vancouver for the celebrations. I went to Vancouver as 2016 turned to 2017 and it was amazing. Fireworks, concerts by well-known artists and free glowing batons are all totally free of charge. Keep in mind it will be busy so if that’s not your idea of fun, stay home and watch Dick Clark’s New Year’s ROCKIN’ Eve featuring a new song by “New Kids On the Block. It’s going be worth staying up for!

All in all, it has been a year for the record books as my latest art show titled “Hear and See: Poetry and Art” is now on tour. It went from The Reach Gallery Abbotsford to The O’Connor Gallery (9201 Corbould Street) in Chillwack BC! Please see it if you can Wednesday to Saturday 1-5pm until January 19th 2019! (I created the work titled “The Stranger” for this exhibition; it is a large-scale acrylic painting that transforms a poem by a man suffering with a mental illness disability into a stunning, brightly colored image!) Come see me live and in person Saturday, January 12th, 2019 at 1 pm for a special artist talk presentation by all artists and poets involved!  Admission is free! J

Between my art show and seeing Mission’s very own Carly Rae Jepsen open for pop star Katy Perry at Roger’s Arena … Just wow…. No words…I will never forget these moments!

Remember this though, I have seen the greatest concerts of all time, (even this year’s most popular superstars Queen (2018 Hit Movie: “Bohemian Rhapsody”)), and have displayed art throughout BC in some of the most prestigious galleries, even at the 2010 Olympics in front of a world stage, but what makes it all count and matter to me at Christmas (and all year-round) is the love and support we all need to give and receive from our dear family and friends.

It’s a time to love a little harder, give a little more, and care for people we don’t even know.

May all of our hearts are hearts be open to the possibilities of Christmas miracles.

Blessings and love to all who read this for a happy and healthy Christmas and a New Year of endless possibilities.

Ho Ho Ho

Santa Jeff (Stackhouse)

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