Timberline Country Christmas: A Beautiful Tradition

Our Christmas festivities have begun! As part of our Christmas Traditions for 2015, we’ve been out and about as a family visiting many cherished and new festive spots. We’ve made a visit to the Aquarium to see Scuba Claus and to the Burnaby Village Museum to complete the scavenger hunt for the 12 Days of Christmas in their Heritage Christmas celebration, and this weekend we drove out to Maple Ridge to visit the Timberline Ranch for the Timberline Country Christmas

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Held at the scenic 73-acre horse ranch, Timberline Country Christmas aims to deliver what we all seek at this time of year: a simple and relaxing Christmas wonderland! Secured through a time-based reservation system, you avoid lines and crowds during most of your stay. You start at your pre-reserved time, but can spend as long as you like on the ranch: visiting the petting zoo, taking a hay ride, playing in the game area, making ornaments, taking a hay ride, listening to stories, or riding a pony (extra ticket required, but still reasonable)! There’s even an assortment of snacks and food available, if you want to extend your stay.

Compared to many Christmas events, this is both reasonably priced as well as more laid back. I felt like we truly enjoyed our two hours at the ranch – no rushing or dealing with impatient kids! We were welcomed with cookie decorating (hooray, no gingerbread! We all get gingerbread-ed out this time of year!), then took the short hay ride to the petting zoo / pony ride / hay maze barn. The whole event is either indoors or covered, so weather isn’t really an issue, but we lucked out with a mild day. Our kids loved interacting with the assortment of animals (goats, llamas, cows and more!), and we were impressed with how immaculate the entire barn was. The highlight, of course, was the pony ride! Both boys had huge smiles on their faces to be riding the large horses!! I was so impressed with them. 

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Every inch of the ranch, including the animal areas, was kept pristine and each person who we interacted with actually seemed to care for their job. Nobody seemed frazzled or annoyed or overwhelmed with their roles interacting with so many people. I was especially impressed in the barn, where I didn’t feel overwhelmed by animal poo!, and in the craft area, where I commended the assistant for keeping all the craft supplies so tidy! I know that can be a daunting task with kids!

Our boys loved the snowball fight area!! We spent a lot of time there and freely let the boys play and play and play. Eventually we coaxed Aiden away by suggesting he set a goal for how many targets he wanted to hit / go through – his final score was 40 hits / hoops!

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Saturday Summer Sessions at the Shipyards

Last Saturday kicked off the first of the Saturday Summer Sessions art & music festival at The Shipyards at the foot of Lonsdale. For those of you (like me) who love the outdoor concert scene, but not the time at which most of the concerts take place, this is a great alternative. We got there so early on Saturday, the kids actually got to help test out the drum sets (translation: Damien was in heaven).

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Right now, there are Summer Concert Series taking place all over North Vancouver, most of which are held on Fridays from 7-9pm. The concerts at Cates Park are the exception, but I’ve had too many bad parking experiences there for me to consider this a regular option. 

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The new Summer Sessions concert series runs from 3-10pm, offering children’s art and activities and sometimes music and shows in the earlier hours, with adult-focused concerts starting after 7pm. So, YAY!

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Last week, we sat in for some of the Celtic Ensemble and Irish Dancers as the Summer Sessions kicked off and had a great time. Don’t expect it to be as busy as the Friday Night Market, or have as many booths or food trucks, but come check it out if you’re looking to add some more music to your family lives!

May Day at Fort Langley

We spent May Day, May 19th 2014, at the annual May Day Parade in Fort Langley. The day dawned kind of dreary and way too early (5:30), so we decided we had to get out. We checked all the local events listings and the weather report and decided to head to Fort Langley for their May Day Parade. We like parades, and we enjoyed Fort Langley, it seemed like a good idea? It was a GREAT idea. 

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Just 40 minutes from our house, it is a very easy drive to Fort Langley. Though it rained prior to the parade, we enjoyed a really unique and wonderful parade, followed by lunch at Wendel’s (highly recommended, our second visit there) and went off to the Fort Langley National Historic Site for a discounted visit and many special activities that were set up for the day. The kids had an even better time there for our second visit!

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We spent so long at this that we didn’t even get to check out the rest of the May Day festivities such as the rides or the retail vendors. There’s always next year, right?!

Vancouver International Children’s Festival

We went to our first Children’s Festival on Granville Island this year. In the past, I wasn’t sure I was up for a whole day at Granville Island with 1 or 2 kids, but now my kids are much “easier,” most of the time, and the day is not so tiring for me. We met up with one grandma (Babby) and aunt (Tia) on a Friday around 10am, choosing to use the festival site activities only, no shows, and we managed to stay there until nearly 4pm. 

We made music, we added string to the dinosaur sculpture, Aiden had his face painted at the most well-organized face painting tent ever and made crafts, we played for a long time in the amazing and well-staffed preschool tent, we played at the playground many times, we had lunch and too many sweets, and I even gave Damien a brief nap in the carrier. It was all-in-all a great day, and surprisingly more relaxing than I anticipated!

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I highly recommend a visit next year, particularly on a weekday when it wasn’t as busy. We may even check out a show next year!