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Christmas Celebrations in the South Okanagan

Residents of Oliver and Osoyoos begin Christmas celebrations in style each year. I was fortunate to experience a few activities that helped kick off this season, courtesy of Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA), Destination Osoyoos, and Tourism Oliver.

The Thompson Okanagan region is situated on the traditional, unceded territory of three Interior Salish nations: the Syilx, Secwépemc, and Nlaka’pamux peoples where we are honoured to live, work, and play. The parts of the Thompson Okanagan I visited are on the land of the Sylix peoples.

South Okanagan Christmas

7 Celebrations – Reconnecting in the South Okanagan – Fire & Ice

“7 Celebrations was named after the 7 Affirmations for 7 Generations Thompson Okanagan Pledge that was inspired by Indigenous philosophy that the actions we make today will have a lasting impact for 7 generations to come. We will celebrate the traditions, stories, and cultures of the region’s communities so they can live on for years to come.” ~ Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA).

If you know anything about me, you know I love Christmas and all that it entails, so this year, I explored festivities in the region of British Columbia where I live!

I live a few hours’ drive from Oliver, so Friday afternoon, I jumped in my car and headed south to take in some local celebrations that are part of the above-mentioned celebrations. The first evening started with a Christmas tree light-up ceremony downtown Oliver then everyone moved to the Oliver Visitor Centre for live performances from local artists, a bonfire, food trucks, fireworks, and an artisan market featuring local and Indigenous art. If you can try the Law of Attraction food truck’s perogies, do it! They were delicious. There was a great turnout of people who gathered for both events I attended; I’d say they were successful!

The Osoyoos and Oliver region is rooted deeply in Indigenous culture and history. The name “Osoyoos” originates from sẁiẁs (pronounced “soo-yoos”) meaning “narrowing of the waters” in the local Okanagan language (nsyilxcen).

Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre

I find it important to learn about the lands and people of the places I visit, and it’s even more important to me now that I’m seeking information about my personal Indigenous history. At the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre at Spirit Ridge Resort, you can walk through indoor and outdoor exhibits which tell the stories of the area and people. It is well worth the visit!

Where to Stay – Spirit Ridge Resort, Osoyoos

This beautiful resort has so much to offer. It’s located in Canada’s only desert around Osoyoos and is a sacred place to the Osoyoos Indian Band. The resort consists of all suites, has a top-notch restaurant and winery, and has a cultural centre where visitors can learn about the region’s Indigenous history. You can read more about this Resort in my detailed post here.

Fire and Ice Festival at Spirit Ridge Resort

One of the main reasons for my visit was to attend the Festival or Carnival, as it’s also called — another 7 Celebration — Fire and Ice event. This Festival featured 16 artisan wineries, breweries, cideries, and distilleries from the South Okanagan. We sampled their creations alongside food pairings and fabulous carnival-style entertainment. I enjoyed all of the samples, but my favourites included wine from Nostalgia plus Noteworthy Gin, as I have a weakness for flavoured gin!

Wineries to Visit

District Wine Village, Oliver, BC

The District WIne Village near Oliver, BC, is the first of its kind in Canada. To celebrate artisans and craftsmanship, long-time friends Max Brock and Matt Kenyon developed the concept for their community in wine country. Director of Operations, Michael Daley, brought their concept to life.

Within the Village, you’ll find 13 wineries, a brewery, a restaurant, and a distillery surrounding an amphitheatre that can hold 610 people. There is also a vineyard as part of the Village property. Each winery and winemaker on the property share state-of-the-art equipment to help produce their VQA wines.

As of this writing, the businesses I visited are JoiRyde Winery, Apricus Cellars, Canter Cellars, Eau Vivre Winery, Foolish Wine, Gneiss Wines, Nk’Mip Cellars, One Faith Vineyards, Silhouette Cellars, Time Family of Wines, Uppercase Winery, Valley Commons, Winemaker’s CUT, Workshop Spirits, and Trading Post Brewery & Eatery.

The central plaza area is a great place to gather any time of the year. Throughout the year, you can find farmer’s markets, numerous community events, and concerts. I visited in the winter, but in the summertime, you will also be surrounded by infinity pools and the sound of gently flowing water.

There were many more events throughout November and December, both free and for a fee. I live just a bit too far away to participate in all of them, but I thoroughly enjoyed the few I could attend. I am looking forward to next year’s celebrations!

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