A truck makes its way down First Avenue as part of the 30th Festival of Lights parade in 2017. (Mike Gregory Photo)

A truck makes its way down First Avenue as part of the 30th Festival of Lights parade in 2017. (Mike Gregory Photo)

Ladysmith ready to flick switch on 31st Festival of Lights celebration

Santa arrives downtown at 6:30 p.m to officially light up town tonight

In 1987 Bill Fitzpatrick and some friends from the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce had an idea that would bring some sparkle to the town. Over three decades later more than 200,000 lights, 27 members, hundreds of volunteers, thousands of volunteer hours and an average of more than 20,000 attendees make this event one of the biggest small town Festival of Lights around.

Bill passed away in 2017 but he got to see that spark of an idea grow into a brilliant festival that is unrivaled on the Island.

Thursday night, Ladysmith will celebrate the 31st Festival of Lights.

“It is all about the people.” said Alex Cook, president of the Ladysmith Festival of Lights Committee. “When we put out the call for help we can count on 75 or 80 people, With the good weather we had this year more than 100 people showed up. Our volunteers take pride in their work and pride in their town.”

When asked why he does it, Alex, who has been involved for close to 6 years said, “because it feels so good to be a part of it, there is tremendous satisfaction in giving back.”

There are also lots of volunteers and donations of support from the business community. This year the entire staff and families of GNB Builders showed up to help.

Many people have been working on Festival of Lights for years for years, Duck Paterson and Bill Drysdale can always be found working with the people and equipment required to put up the lights.

In 2015 this writer had the pleasure of going to the top of the Chuck Perrin tree with Bill so we could measure the frame for the new top lights. We were lifted to the top of the tree by a large crane from RKM. Bill had no fear of stepping out of the bucket and walking on the old angle bar frame, I have to admit I was pretty nervous up there.

People in their 80s and parents with their children come and volunteer for the installation and setup of the lights. Installation started this year on November 4th while planning started long before that. Teacher Patty Cavers brought her grade 5 class to help put up the lights for the Ladysmith Resource Centre.

FOL Director Robin Francis encourages young people to come out and help.

“It would be great to have more high school students come and volunteer, they would enjoy taking pride and ownership in something that is so good for the community.”

Several committee members mentioned the importance of bringing more young people on board. “We are all getting older and we could use some younger faces around the planning table and to learn the ropes.”

Each year the Aggie Hall hosts a big Craft and Artisan Fair and 2018 is no exception. 35 tables showcasing handmade arts, food, textile and wooden gift items were booked and committed to early.

The Craft and Artisan Fair is open from 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm on Thursday but come early if you don’t want to miss the best selection. Santa flicks the switch at 6:30 p.m. and the parade gets going about 15 minutes later.

Each year the Festival gets started with night time Light Up Parade organised by the Kinsmen Club. It starts at 6:40 at the top of 1st Avenue and continues to the Aggie Hall where the Grand Finale includes a massive fireworks display and the lighting of the Chuck Perrin Christmas Tree.

The Festival of Lights is so much more than a one evening celebration. People come from all over the Island to see and feel the spirit of “Christmas Town”.

The lights stay on and the visitors come every night until the 3rd week of January when the volunteers will once again show their commitment to this fantastic Ladysmith Community Event.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Marc Porpaczy said he’s glad he delayed his daily walk with his dog, Juno, after a car crashed just outside his driveway just before 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 25. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
VIDEO: Dramatic crash highlights need for sidewalks, say Colwood residents

‘The residents have gone from frustrated to angry’

(Black Press Media file photo)
Court-registered sex offender arrested for breach of parole in Langford

Cameron Ratelle returned to correctional facility after female youth approached at bus stop

(Black Press Media file photo)
Youth in police custody after kitchen knife call

A knife was recovered during the arrest, no injuries reported

(Black Press Media file photo)
VicPD arrest man at gunpoint after firearm call

Man faces charges for breaching condition not to possess replica firearms

Sooke’s Amy McLaughlin holds Theodore, a bunny who will be going to a new owner in Nanaimo within the coming days if all goes will at an upcoming bunny play-date. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Sooke woman looking to hop into bigger space for bunny business

Amy McLaughlin has rescued over 400 bunnies across the Island, mainland

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Residents of the Cowichan Valley decorated more than 55 vehicles with anti-racist slogans for a car rally in support of Cowichan Tribes on Saturday, January 24. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Dozens join anti-racism car rally and virtual panel in Cowichan Valley

Provincial ministry and BC Green caucus issue joint statement detailing concerns

Jesse Savidant, 31, is wanted by the RCMP after failing to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo in December. Police warn Savidant should be considered violent. (Photo Submitted)
Warrant out for man accused of stolen property offences across Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant did not appear for court date in Nanaimo last month, say RCMP

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Island artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

Most Read