It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, particularly at the end of Highway 26, where Barkerville Historic Town and Park is preparing for an expanded Old-Fashioned Victorian Christmas event this Saturday through Monday (Dec. 14-16).
“We have some exciting new activities planned for this year’s event,” Jillian Merrick, Barkerville’s manager of preservation and presentation, said in a press release. “We’ve been breaking attendance records over the past few seasons, and this year we want to make sure we’ve got some extra surprises for our annual yuletide guests to enjoy.”
Some of these extras include winterized museum exhibits, three times more free activities and historical interpretation programs offered, additional washroom facilities uptown, and a charter bus service running from Quesnel and Prince George.
There will be traditional caroling on the streets of Barkerville, as well as two indoor choral concerts on Saturday and Sunday (featuring Quesnel‘s Q City Singers and the Aka Bellas, respectively) and music from the Quesnel Junior School band on Monday.
Sleigh rides, town tours, cookie-decorating workshops, old-time photography sessions and Dickensian shopping experiences will operate as usual, onsite bed and breakfasts and other accommodations are taking reservations, and the Goldfield Bakery and Barkerville Café will be serving up holiday treats and delicious lunches.
James Douglas, Barkerville’s public programming and global media development lead, says the Old-Fashioned Victorian Christmas event keeps growing, and this year will be their biggest event yet.
“We’ve been having some sort of Victorian Christmas event for probably 25 years now,” he said. “It’s always been a really nice weekend, and we’ve traditionally had upwards of 500 to 600 people over the three days. The last three years, it has doubled in size, and last year, we had 1,200 people over three days.”
Douglas is excited to have full programming this weekend, including full town tours with interpretors, chances to meet Father Christmas, Mr. Bowron’s reading of A Christmas Carol and printing press and blacksmithing demonstrations.
“The schedule is actually stacked full of some really amazing stuff,” he said. “New displays will be open this year. It’s going to be a really busy and cool weekend.”
This year, Barkerville staff wanted to make it easier for people who may be hesitant about driving in the winter to take part in the Old-Fashioned Victorian Christmas activities, and they’ve chartered a bus that will provide return transportation from Prince George and Quesnel for the Saturday and Sunday. Anyone interested in the bus service is asked to pre-purchase a ticket online at eventbrite.ca/e/81243833493.
Alongside the Victorian Christmas activities, this weekend will mark the opening of Barkerville’s Shamrock Tube Run for the 2019 recreational season, provided the snow keeps steadily falling. Updates will be provided on Barkerville’s Facebook page and on Barkerville’s website.
Barkerville will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Admission to Barkerville’s 2019 Old-Fashioned Victorian Christmas is by donation — either monetary or some non-perishable food items for the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 128’s annual Christmas hamper program in Wells.
For more information about Barkerville’s 2019 Old-Fashioned Victorian Christmas event, visit barkerville.ca/victorianchristmas or phone 1-888-994-3332, ext. 0.
For those making the trip to Barkerville, there will be a variety of activities taking place in Wells this weekend as well.
The seventh annual Wells Christmas Craft and Bake Sale will be held Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Wells Curling Club, and the Wells Legion is hosting a Christmas Dinner Saturday from 6-8 p.m. Dinner is by donation. Call 250-994-3208 for more information.
The Sunset Theatre is hosting the Victorian Christmas Cabaret Saturday at 8 p.m. The Sunset Cabaret is a long-standing tradition at the Sunset Theatre, inspired by the coffee houses of the 1960s and the popular Theatrical Happenings of the 1970s. Saturday’s Christmas Cabaret promises a “seasonal cornucopia of sketches, comedy, music, silliness and possible nudity.” This cabaret will feature adult content. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and admission is $12.
Visit whatsupinwells.com to find opening hours for local businesses and dining options.