One of our favourite communities to visit during the Christmas season is the town of Courtenay, where the annual festivities kick off in late November and run right through the final weekend before Christmas. The merchants of downtown Courtenay have organized a month-long celebration called WinterFest that kicks off with the Comox Valley Christmas Parade and continues on with a variety of themed events that offer activities for all ages.
We visited Courtenay this past weekend and started out at the marvelous indoor farmers market, then moved on to a delightful brunch at Locals Restaurant at The Old House where owners Ronald and Tricia St. Pierre and their staff continue to work their culinary magic in their lovely new (to them) location. From there we headed to Courtenay’s charming old downtown core, chock-a-block with interesting shops, friendly merchants and Christmas cheer at every turn.
Our first stop was at the WinterFest Hub, where kids and parents were busy at craft tables, then got drawn to the informal stage area where Courtenay’s own delightful Helen Austin and family entertained with light-hearted music for well over an hour. The theme for this particular weekend was The Great Outdoors and there were many activities to enjoy, including a heritage walking tour and Christmas at the Courtenay Museum, where crafts, carols and other activities were on offer throughout the day. We enjoyed a leisurely ramble through the beautifully-decorated downtown shops, many of which were participating in the Walk the Windows contest. You can vote for your favourite store window and have an opportunity to win a downtown shopping spree.
Themes for the remainder of the 2013 Christmas season include Delicious Downtown Dec. 6-7, Walk on the Wild Side Dec. 13-14 and ‘Twas the Night Before Dec. 20-21. There are plenty of other WinterFest activities happening during the week as well, all of which can be found at the organization’s Facebook page when you become a fan of ‘Downtown Courtenay WinterFest’.
So, if the Christmas spirit has yet to take hold in your life, consider a trip to Courtenay to enjoy the festive ambiance and a leisurely day that will help you segue into the yuletide in a happy and relaxed frame of mind.
Further information on the activities in downtown Courtenay can be obtained at
There is plenty of free public parking. It is probably easiest to start your tour of the downtown core in the area of Fitzgerald and Fifth Streets.
GPS co-ordinates are:
N 49 41.400 W 125 00.092