The 27th annual Airdrie Festival of Lights is focused on a back-to-basics approach this December, according to event coordinator Michelle Pirzek – a glittering display of lights, family time togetherness, and endless holiday wonder at Nose Creek Regional Park.
“It’s 27 glowing years coming up,” she said. “Twenty-seven years ago (organizers) wanted to put Airdrie on the map. They wanted it to be a destination (event), and I think we have accomplished that. Now we are seeing second and third generations of visitors to the park.
“For us, it’s all about that legacy that has been built.”
That being said, Pirzek wants to emphasize the popular annual event does not come together without a ton of hard work before, during, and after the lights are set up or taken down. It takes about 1,500 hours of labour to put the month-long festival together, she stated, and organizers can use all the volunteer people power they can get – particularly over the next two weeks.
“Our core group, our volunteer board of directors, they’re all in,” said Pirzek. “It takes all year to plan and prepare for our event. We don’t do it without volunteers. There is a reason we haven’t had to charge admission or parking. It’s because of the dedication of our volunteers that come in.”
While the big recruitment drive for volunteers took place on Nov. 19 at Nose Creek Park, Pirzek said that should not stop people from coming out to help in any way they can with set-up. She said it is always worth the effort at the end of the day.
“Getting through set-up is daunting, it’s exhausting, and it’s a tiresome task, but every year we open on Dec. 1 and every one of us has that ‘Aha’ moment,” she confirmed. “This is why we do it, and this was worth all the pain and agony of the past couple of weeks.”
While there will not be as many special events scheduled this year in Nose Creek Park to coincide with the Festival of Lights, Pirzek said two special dates are worth circling on the calendar: Dec. 3 and Dec. 10
On Dec. 3, following the city’s Santa Claus Parade along Main Street, Nose Creek Museum will be hosting an old-tyme skate on the pond of the park with the Victorian Society of Alberta.
“They have free skate rentals set up for people,” explained Pirzek. “So, you can bring your skates or get a set for free and come skate. They are going to be playing Victorian era Christmas music. And people can take photos with people in Victorian clothing.”
Pirzek confirmed there would also be free hotdogs courtesy of Fortis Alberta and free hot chocolate courtesy of Nose Creek Museum served at the event.
On Dec. 10, after the CP Holiday Train festival concludes, Prizek said people are invited to the adjacent Festival of Lights starting at 9 p.m. for an after-party where craft beers courtesy of 948 Brewing Co. will be served, and entertainment will be provided by local country music sensation Brandon Lorenzo.
Those wishing to know more about the festival and its volunteer opportunities can visit the Airdrie Festival of Lights Society Facebook page.
For those wishing to attend the Airdrie Festival of Lights, it is held every night in December from 6 p.m. onward. Admission is free of charge, but cash donations are gratefully accepted.