17th Annual Festival of Trees lights up downtown conference centre

November 22, 2011 - 6:16am

Downtown Nanaimo is the place to visit this weekend for festive entertainment, spectacular holiday decorations and a visit from the jolly guy himself – Santa.

Vancouver Island University is proud to announce that the 17th Annual Festival of Trees presented by Canadian Tire is underway at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre (VICC) until Dec. 2. The Festival of Trees is the largest community fundraising event held by VIU’s Office of Development and Alumni. Proceeds support student awards, scholarships and bursaries.

“This year, the VIU Festival of Trees is collaborating with the VICC, Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Area, Nanaimo Lions’ Christmas Parade and the Nanaimo Museum to create an exciting seasonal experience for people of all ages,” said Bruce Williams, VIU Foundation Board chair.

“Moving the Festival of Trees to the Vancouver Island Conference Centre pairs Nanaimo’s premier social event with Vancouver Island’s premier event venue. This means easier access for the public to the Festival of Trees, and an enhanced venue for the Festival Gala. As we celebrate VIUs 75th Anniversary, we at the VIU Foundation are thrilled with this transition and how it enables us to better support our students.”

As usual, the Festival includes many public events and activities. Approximately 50 fabulous trees adorned in holiday beauty are on display for public viewing at the VICC Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm until Dec. 2, excluding Nov. 24 and 25. The public can purchase raffle tickets for some of the trees, as well as for many other items.

A successful cocktail reception was held at the VICC, on Thursday, Nov. 24, where there was an unveiling of a special recognition 75th Anniversary Festival Tree. The cocktail event was sponsored by RBC and RBC Dominion Securities.

The Festival Gala on Friday, Nov. 25 is being sponsored by Coastal Community Credit Union, and commemorates VIU’s 75-year journey. The evening starts with an exquisite dining experience prepared and served by VIU’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality students in partnership with VICC, and includes a silent auction and dance with live music courtesy of The Timebenders.

This weekend, Nov. 26 and 27, is earmarked for the Festival’s Public Days. Sponsored by Island Savings Credit Union, TD Canada Trust and Woodgrove Centre, Public Days runs from 10am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday and includes arts and crafts, face painting, live entertainment and goodies provided by VIU Culinary Arts students. Admission is by donation. Families will also enjoy watching Santa arrive by floatplane at the downtown waterfront, 11am on Saturday and the annual Lions’ Christmas parade at 1pm.

The Festival’s Alumni Online Auction, to help raise funds to support VIU students, is also up and running. Visit www.viu.ca/festival/auction/index.asp to bid on fabulous prizes.

The Festival of Trees is a holiday tradition in Nanaimo and each year is visited by more than 3,000 guests. Over the past 17 years the Festival has raised more than $750,000 to support students with scholarships, awards, bursaries and enhance learning with investments in equipment and infrastructure.

For more information about the Festival of Trees, visit www.viu.ca/festival.

Tags: In the Community

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