Ride the steam train through a winter wonderland at the BC Forest Discovery Centre at the Christmas Express season kicks off Dec. 1. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen file)

Christmas kicks off Friday in Duncan; Christmas Express Saturday at Forest Discovery Centre

Downtown Duncan kicks off Christmas, and the next day, it’s time for the Christmas Express

A Christmas Kick-off lights up Duncan on Friday, Nov. 30.

At 5:30 p.m., everything starts at City Square with a welcome, then Santa’s helpers band joins the fun. There’s a horse-drawn wagon, and roasted chestnuts as well.

The tree-lighting and the arrival of Santa Claus by fire truck takes place at 6 p.m. They’ll come in via Ingram Street and set up by Pharmasave.

Santa’s Helper’s Band is back on stage at 6:15 and 7 p.m., with a show at 6:50 p.m. by performers from Carlson’s School of Dance.

Finally, at 8 p.m., there’s the fireworks display.

Meanwhile, on the Community Stage, by Just Jake’s, from 5:40 to 6 p.m., the Queen Margaret’s School String Orchestra will entertain, followed by the Queen of Angels School Primary Choir. From 6:30 to 7 p.m. the DDT Drumline takes over with the Cowichan Valley Concert Band closing the show from 7:05 to 7:40 p.m.

Christmas Express back at BCFDC

And, starting the very next day, the popular annual Christmas Express at the BC Forest Discovery Centre starts its 13-night holiday season.

“We love bringing the Christmas Express out and seeing the magic of the holiday in the faces of everyone that attends. Our attendance has been growing, so we are hoping to exceed previous attendance this year with 13 nights of holiday magic. We invite islanders to come out to see the light displays, enjoy the seasonal music, make a Christmas craft, and ride the Christmas Express train,” said Chris Gale, manager of the BC Forest Discovery Centre.

From Dec. 1-2, 7-9, 14-16, and 19-23 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., take the family to enjoy a winter wonderland, as the Christmas Express, a 1910 steam locomotive, travels through thousands of twinkling lights that adorn the 100 acre enchanged woods of the BC Forest Discovery Centre.

The steam train leaves every 20 minutes from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. and it’s really popular with people from all across the Valley and beyond.

Keep warm with hot chocolate, mini donuts and, this year, chili dogs and bowls of chili.

If you want to reserve tickets, call 250-715-1113 ext. 30 from Monday to Wednesday. The last day for advance purchasing is Wednesday, Dec. 12.

“The Christmas Express is the museum’s largest fundraiser of the year and is paramount to the ongoing operation and maintenance of our antique vehicle collection, our trains, maintenance of the historical buildings and the preservation of an important ecosystem within the Cowichan Region,” said organizers.

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