The new Rayside-Balfour Festival will celebrate the holiday traditions of French-Canadian, Mété and Acadian cultures with a range of family-friendly events throughout the month of December.
This is the first full season of Café Festival Noel, which was launched as a virtual event in 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions. With a full month of activities planned, the Café Héritage event organizer expects thousands of visitors.
“We hope to try and promote the different cultures that celebrate Christmas,” said Gary Michalac, CEO of Heritage Café. “Our community here at Résidence Balfour is predominantly francophone. She is there to celebrate our heritage through art, music and storytelling.”
This year’s festival will include a number of in-person and virtual events for the whole family.
For those looking to maintain a relaxed vibe at home, the festival will be accepting video submissions for the Lights On: Home Decorating contest through December 12th.
Michalak said they challenge community members to embrace the holiday spirit.
“For me, it’s a way for people to express their passion for the solstice season,” he said. “It is a way of realizing that people put a lot of effort into decorating their homes and inviting people to go out into their streets and look at their decorations.”
Entrants will be judged on the creativity and attractiveness of their designs. Winners have a chance to win prizes of up to $1,000.
For more information on how to register before December 12, visit www.cafefestivalnoel.ca/en/home-decoration-concours.
Those who want to enjoy the snow are invited to launch Winter Wonderland, the main attraction of the festival that will debut in Whitewater Park on December 16th.
Designed by Belanger Salach Architects, Winter Wonderland features a life-size nativity scene, as well as a miniature Santa Claus village built by Boreal College students. On the other side of the field, there will be Christmas tree stands displaying panels depicting classic carols and some work by local artists.
Winter Wonderland will be open to the public December 16-27 from 6-9 p.m. Donations are welcome.
Also in Whitewater Lake, Michalak said the festival will bring back memories of winter carnivals, dog sled races, and pioneer games with Whitewater Winter Memories, an eventful weekend.
After the official opening, the festival will welcome superstar artist Rodney Mellor in a concert to bring back the spirit of Christmas.
All day Saturday (December 17), kids can enjoy the Kids Snow Zone, which will feature a giant inflatable soccer ball and climbing wall, as well as a variety of other outdoor attractions.
For the big kids, the Rolly Pioneer winter games are a way to spend a Saturday in the snow.
In honor of Roland Dutresac’s memory, he will face 12 teams from five teams in seven revolutionary matches, including the two-man cross post, piton throw, putter relay and crawl relay. The team that comes out on top with the most points will win the Golden Cap.
Teams must register for the event and spots are still available. Interested teams can register at www.cafefestivalnoel.ca/en/rolly.
On Sunday, December 18, members of the community are invited to Réveillon, a gala dinner presented at Center Lionel Lalonde.
The gala will feature live performances from a variety of artists including Rodney Mellor, Zachary Kleiman, Jeff McClosland, Richard Mellor, Alain Boleyn, Danica Brabant, Megan Bigras, Melanie Smits and Richard Pulsifer.
New Year’s Eve will take place on December 17th from 6pm to 11pm, with doors opening at 5.30pm. Tickets are $65 each. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.cafefestivalnoel.ca/fr/le-veillon-2022.
To cap off a month of festivities and celebrate the New Year, the festival will host Chuck Labelle and his friends in concert on January 1 at Center Lionel Lalonde. Tickets are available online at www.cafefestivalnoel.ca/chuck-labelle-friends.
For more event information, call Michalak at 705-918-1534 or email@example.com visit www.cafefestivalnoel.ca.
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