Take part in family-friendly and free holiday activities

Yule Ave will once again be bringing some holiday cheer to Alberta Avenue from Dec. 21 to 22. Here for its eighth year, the festival will be featuring favourites that everyone loves.

Frank Zotter, the creator and one of the main organizers, is currently a graduate student of acting at the University of British Columbia. Needless to say, he’s busy but has the help of two dozen people involved in planning the festival.

“The moving parts are all in place,” says Zotter.

Enchanted Antlers will also be staged at the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts. Mark Henderson, artistic director of Theatre Prospero, produces and administers the festival with Zotter and Alberta Avenue Community League. He describes the play as “a gentle, whimsical, funny story about three friends with antlers meeting in Elk’s home or ‘wallow’ in the winter woods, for the most important hooved holiday of the year: All Ungulates Eve, where they share warmth, stories and food, celebrate under the stars, and ‘look ahead through the trees’ at the year to come. This year, maybe Elk’s friend Beaver will finally come!”

The play is written by local playwright Jennifer Spencer.

“Last year we commissioned it especially for the festival and the community and gave a staged reading to a standing-room only audience on the Saturday of the festival. This year we are doing a full production, with significant rewrites, and a little tour to three Avenue area schools!” says Henderson.

On Saturday, organizers will once again be cooking the free turkey dinner, Last year, the dinner was so popular they had to turn people away. This year, admission is by any community league membership or by donation.

Unsilent Night will also be making a return on Sunday, Dec. 22 at dusk (4:30 pm). Described as “a luminous soundscape played by the audience on [phones or musical devices] carried through city streets,” composer Phil Kline wrote it specifically to be played outdoors in December.

“It creates this beautiful, harmonious, evocative soundscape,” enthuses Zotter.

Unlike previous years, this year will not have any snow carving due to the uncertainty of having snow in time.

Happily, participants can still enjoy a ride through the streets on the popular horse-drawn wagon. 

“Santa is back, he volunteers his time. He tells kids that the horses won’t go unless they sing,” Zotter says.

As usual, the Yule Ave a Blast concert on Saturday will feature a variety of acts after dinner, including the return of belly dancers and a flute player. 

On Dec. 21 from noon to 4 pm, people of all ages can build their very own gingerbread house. On both days, participants can create a holiday ornament at the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts. 

And if you’re a fan of holiday movies, take in a free movie on Saturday at Alberta Avenue Community League. 

“It’ll be Home Alone,” says Zotter. The movie will screen at 4 pm.

Of course, there will be the Giving Tree, so if you have extra clothing to donate, hang it on the tree and it will be available for those who need it.

So come on out and enjoy Yule Ave with your neighbours and with Zotter, who possibly loves it most of all. 

“It’s the best, stereotypical Christmas you can have at my age. The festival is like Christmas to me, but it’s for the whole neighbourhood. It’s a really positive experience.”

Featured Image: Make your very own Christmas ornament. | Supplied