Ask anyone in the Parksville/Qualicum Beach area about the best festive season attractions in Oceanside and the Bethlehem Walk is sure to be near the top of their list of ‘must do’. This amazing spectacle is built and manned totally by volunteers from the congregation of the Parksville Fellowship Baptist Church and draws visitors from all over the Island through its annual four-day run. This event is an amazing re-creation of the town of Bethlehem at the time of Christ’s birth, right down to a live baby (the newest member of the congregation) nestled in a manger.
The congregation begins building the ‘walk’ each autumn and by the end there is a totally undercover reconstruction of the cobbled streets, rustic vendor stalls, livestock enclosures and pretty much everything else you can imagine would have been found in Bethlehem all those years ago. There are bakers, basket makers, an apothecary, wool brokers, candle makers, metal workers, butchers and fish mongers. There are sheep and other livestock and so many more features that it is difficult to remember them all.
And then, not content to just build this awe-inspiring village, the entire congregation, from youngsters to adults, mans all those features for four nights, dressed in period costume and filling the roles of merchant called for in each shop or stall.
We have returned to the Bethlehem Walk many times over the years and are always so impressed by the authenticity and endless hours that go in to providing such an amazing attraction for the community. All of the smells and sounds of this ancient town are there, drawing us back to yesteryear – and providing a gentle reminder of the real reason for the festive season.
We generally find that we have to wait outdoors for quite some time prior to being admitted to spend an hour or so enjoying the Bethlehem Walk, which as I mentioned earlier is all enclosed and under cover. It’s a good idea to bundle up and come prepared for whatever the weather is throwing at us but rest assured, any wait you may have to endure is well worth the trouble. And, there hot chocolate and cookies are offered in the church at the end of your tour of Bethlehem so you can look forward to warming up afterwards. The church also takes donations of food and money for local charities at this event so, while there is no charge to take in this marvellous display we always take something as a contribution for those who are less fortunate.
Dates for this year’s Bethlehem Walk are Saturday, December 13 – Tuesday, December 16 from 6 – 8:30 p.m. , with a special showing for pre-school and special needs on the morning of Monday, December 15, although we have seen folks in wheelchairs attend the evening showings in past years. There is a shuttle service from a nearby mall to accommodate easy parking for those attending.
Further information on the Bethlehem Walk can be found on the church’s website at:
Parksville Fellowship Baptist Church is located at 550 Pym Street, Parksville
Lat. 49.332716332422805 Long. -124.33788028465574
N 49 19.963 W 124 20.273