Community celebrations are seasonal favorites

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  • Mr. amd Mrs. Claus wave to the crowd at the annual Night of Lights parade in Columbia Falls. (Hungry Horse News file)

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    “WhiteFire” fire dancers will perform on Central Avenue during the Christmas Stroll. (Whitefish Pilot file)

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    This year's Whitefish Christmas Stroll in Friday, Dec. 8.

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    Sweet Peaks Ice Cream opens shop outdoors for last year’s Art Walk in Kalispell

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    Holiday revelers celebrate at Alpine Lighting during last year’s Art Walk in Kalispell.

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    The Xanterra float was full of smiling faces.

  • Mr. amd Mrs. Claus wave to the crowd at the annual Night of Lights parade in Columbia Falls. (Hungry Horse News file)

  • 1

    “WhiteFire” fire dancers will perform on Central Avenue during the Christmas Stroll. (Whitefish Pilot file)

  • 2

    This year's Whitefish Christmas Stroll in Friday, Dec. 8.

  • 3

    Sweet Peaks Ice Cream opens shop outdoors for last year’s Art Walk in Kalispell

  • 4

    Holiday revelers celebrate at Alpine Lighting during last year’s Art Walk in Kalispell.

  • 5

    The Xanterra float was full of smiling faces.

The Flathead Valley rings in the holidays with a host of community festivities. Whether you just want to stroll around downtown amid the holiday decorations, are rarin’ to go for a wagon ride, or are looking for a little hot cocoa and Christmas caroling, gather up your family and friends, put on your (flannel-lined) party pants and celebrate the season!

Kalispell

Kalispell’s Art Walk and Holiday Stroll promises an evening of good cheer Friday.

Meet your friends and family at this free event downtown Kalispell from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday for scintillating shopping, fine food and luscious libations.

While shopping, enter to win one of several $100 gift certificates for use at more than 45 participating downtown locations. Most businesses will be open late.

Bring your cameras because Santa will be available for photos from 5 to 6 p.m. at Depot Park. The Crown of the Continent Choir will sing Christmas carols and kids can play in the bounce house. The Kalispell Chamber of Commerce will host the annual Community Christmas tree lighting at 6 p.m.

There will be music at many locations. Smart Alex will be playing at Valley Bank and the Trinity Lutheran Hand-bell Choir will be near Alpine Lighting. Bethlehem Lutheran Church is hosting a stained glass craft activity and First Presbyterian Church will have an art show on exhibit.

The Hockaday Museum of Art will also be open 5 to 9 p.m. with free admission and holiday treats for patrons. The museum’s gift shop has a variety of artful ideas for gift giving.

The entire event is a wonderful way to enjoy a pleasant evening while supporting your local businesses. For more information, call the 253-6923 or email pam@downtownkalispell.com.

Kalispell’s fun continues on Saturday with the annual City of the North Parade at 5 p.m. on Main Street. The parade will travel from the intersection of Main Street and 10th Street to the intersection of Main Street and Center Street. Parking will be prohibited on the east side of Main street starting at 4 p.m. Saturday and will resume immediately afterward.

Everyone is invited to come enjoy the excitement and magic of the season.

The Kalispell Chamber is partnering with the Flathead Marines during the parade to gather unwrapped toys for Toys for Tots. The Flathead Marines will be the third-from-last entry in the parade and will collect toys from parade spectators.

Whitefish

Hearts will be glowing at the Whitefish Christmas Stroll from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday for some old-fashioned holiday fun and high-fashion Christmas shopping.

Rendezvous with your friends and family and enjoy all the evening’s festivities, from street vendors and crafters to fire dancing, Bar W wagon rides, and of course, a visit from Santa Claus.

North Valley Music School students will give a performance at 5 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church.

The Presbyterian Church’s Alpine Bell Choir will perform at 6:15 p.m.

Lighting up the night for the fifth straight year will be “Whitefire,” Whitefish’s own local fire juggling/dancing troupe. Watch for their performance on Central Avenue in front of the O’Shaughnessy Center at 6 p.m., and again at about 7:15 p.m. in front of the Winter Carnival float.

The annual lighting of the Depot Park Christmas Trees and Santa’s grand arrival are set for 6 to 6:30 p.m. in front of the O’Shaughnessy Center. Kids of all ages can get their pictures taken with Santa at the Stumptown Marketplace on Spokane Avenue beginning at 6:30 p.m.; meanwhile, the Winter Carnival royalty will take center stage throughout the evening near the Winter Carnival float.

Dancers from the Whitefish/Bigfork Dance Academy will make an appearance at 6:30 p.m., and wandering groups of Christmas carolers will fill the crisp winter air with the sounds of the holidays.

Shop local … and win big. Stores will be dressed in the holiday finest for your holiday shopping and a chance to win hundreds of dollars in gift certificates, products and services during the seventh annual Christmas Stroll Shopping Spree. Last year’s winners walked away with more than $1,000 in prizes More than 50 local businesses have already donated prizes for this year’s grand prize drawings. There are no tickets to buy, but for every $10 you spend with a Whitefish Chamber member on the day of the Christmas Stroll you’ll get one entry into the grand prize raffles that’ll be held that night. To enter, you must bring receipts for your purchases to the Whitefish Chamber tent near the corner of Central Avenue and East Third Street by 8:30 p.m., when the three lucky winners will be announced.

Columbia Falls

Kids and grown-ups alike will be jingle-belling for joy at Columbia Falls Night of Lights Friday. Don hats and mittens to ward of any chill and enjoy the festivities.

The annual community gathering draws hundreds to downtown and beyond as the fun gets underway, starting with a craft fair at 4 p.m. at the North Valley Teakettle Room on Nucleus Avenue.

The Night of Lights Parade starts at 6:30 p.m. The parade route starts at the post office and continues to Fifth Street, with lineup beginning at the intersection of Nucleus Avenue and Railroad Street. After the parade there will be marshmallows for toasting and caroling in the snow at a holiday party hosted by The Coop. Visit with Santa and warm up with a bonfire, hot cocoa and a bowl of chili while being treated to a concert featuring the Stringlers, Columbia Falls High School Columbians and the Sonifers.

The fun continues Saturday when Columbia Falls Rotary hosts Brunch with Santa at 9:30 a.m. at Timbercreek Village on Meadowlake Drive. There will lost of delicious breakfast and lunch food, music and a silent auction … and even as busy as he is this time of year, Santa will be there for photos and a chat with the children. The cost for adults is $10 and children under 12 eat free with a paid adult. Tickets are available at the door. For details, call Doug at 406-407-2445.

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