Cambridge Chamber of Commerce

The City of Cambridge’s holiday season is packed with an array of unforgettable sights and lights thanks to Winterfest.

 

Previously known as ‘Christmas in Cambridge’, the festival – which runs until Dec. 31 - offers a wide range of activities and events to entice people to visit the downtown cores of Galt, Preston and Hespeler, providing a valuable opportunity to check out local businesses.

 

“The festival takes place in all three downtown cores which brings prosperity to all three,” says Leanne Bond, Recreation Co-ordinator, Special Events for the City of Cambridge.

 

She says many of businesses are extending their hours to ensure festivalgoers get the chance to check out what the downtown cores have to offer.

 

Cambridge Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Greg Durocher says the festival is a great opportunity for businesses to showcase themselves.

 

“More important than ever before because it’s so easy and convenient to online shop that we need to encourage people to remember they have small businesses in their communities that help build a strong economy locally and employ their friends and family,” he says. “It’s important to do what we can to support the small businesses in our community.”

 

Greg says support is especially needed since the holiday season is the most important time of the year for small businesses.

 

“Having an event like Winterfest gets people out and about, and maybe opens their eyes to opportunities where they can help a business and themselves by finding that special gift. It just makes good common sense,” he says.

 

The fun kicked off Friday night (Nov. 25) when hundreds of people took part in the annual Phil Kline’s Unsilent Night walking tour, which began with an official ‘countdown’ at City Hall followed by a leisurely stroll through Galt’s core to enjoy more than 30 light installations accompanied by the American composer’s music.

 

“We used to have it (Unsilent Night) on a Thursday night leading into our Cambridge Christmas Market, so it was two events in one,” says Leanne, noting Unsilent Night has grown exponentially so having it to kick off the month-long schedule of events made sense. Also, she says of the 37 cities hosting this event Cambridge was the only city in Canada selected.

 

“There’s some pretty good kudos with that,” says Leanne, noting the festival has been named for the past three years as one of the top 100 festivals by Festivals and Events Ontario. “We’ve really been adapting, pivoting and changing and making some big differences to the City of Cambridge and are really proud of that.”

 

Throughout the pandemic, the City of Cambridge turned to hybrid and outdoor pop-up holiday events, including the successful Winter Illumination display which saw a variety of light exhibits placed around the community, including a giant heart outside the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce office on Hespeler Road.

 

“We’re really proud of the fact we kept everything moving forward as best as we possibly could,” says Leanne, adding having an array of sponsors and community partners, including the Chamber, has been vital for the success of Winterfest. “We really couldn’t do this festival without them.”

 

Winterfest at a glance:

 

CP Holiday Train preshow (Wednesday, Nov. 30) – Starts at 3 p.m. at Malcolm Street Train Station. This event raises support for the Cambridge Food Bank.

 

Preston – Winter Ice and Lights features light displays all month in Central Park, plus a pop-up concert Thursday, Dec. 8 starting at 7 p.m.

 

Galt – Cambridge Christmas Market will feature the work of more than 60 local artisans and crafters, plus a range of live entertainment at City Hall Civic Square both days starting at noon. It takes place the weekend of Dec. 10-11 at the Cambridge Centre for the Arts and David Durward Centre.

 

Hespeler – Music and Lights in the Village takes place Friday, Dec. 2 at Town Hall, and the Idea Exchange starting at 7 p.m. and features a variety of holiday lights, tree lighting, musical entertainment, crafts, and food. (The event coincides with the village’s annual Santa Claus Parade on Saturday, Dec. 3 starting a noon.)

 

New Year’s Eve Party – Winterfest wraps up Dec. 31 by ringing in the New Year with a family skate at the Hespeler Arena from 4-8 p.m. The fun will include entertainment, games, an inflatable obstacle course and concession stand snacks.

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