For some, it's a chance to dress up and see the latest in Christmas trees dripping with trips and prizes. For others, it's a drive through neighborhoods that seem like shrines to Reddy Kilowatt. Whatever your style, beginning this weekend, the days and nights of the Inland Northwest are sure to sparkle with opportunities for fun with family and friends.
& & Downtown Tree Lighting & & & &
Christmas in downtown Spokane is officially kicked off with the Downtown Spokane Partnership's tree lighting ceremony in Riverfront Park the day after Thanksgiving. From 1:30-5:30 pm on Friday, Nov. 24, there will be live reindeer at the Christmas tree site, near the Bloomsday runners in Riverfront Park. From 5:30-6 pm, the Ferris High School band and the chorus of Annie perform until the arrival of Santa at 6 pm, when the official lighting ceremony takes place. A short fireworks display follows immediately afterward.
In addition to all the holiday festivities, there's plenty of winter fun to be had in the park as well. "Lace up your skates and come down to the Ice Palace," says Dale Larsen, events coordinator for Riverfront Park. "The Ice Palace, the carousel and IMAX are all open for winter hours right now."
& & & lt;i & The Downtown Holiday Display can be viewed from Nov. 24-Dec. 31 in Riverfront Park. For more information on the tree lighting ceremony, call the Downtown Spokane Partnership at 456-0580. For Ice Palace hours and admission, call Riverfront Park at 625-6600. & lt;/i & & lt;/center &
& & Festival of Lights & & & &
If it's lights -- lots of lights -- you're after, it's definitely worth your while to check out the Festival of Lights in Coeur d'Alene. The entire show -- which encompasses both inside and outside the hotel, as well as a "North Pole" destination across the lake -- employs more than one million lights, three miles of cable, at least 300 feet of scaffolding and a 3,000 pound steel wreath. The lighting of the resort's hotel, grounds and boardwalk has been a Coeur d'Alene tradition for years, but this year marks the inclusion of a new attraction. Festival of Lights cruises will depart daily from the boardwalk and will ferry passengers across the lake to the "North Pole," which will light up with 20-foot high candy canes, 14 elves and an entire Santa's Workshop display.
From inside the resort, the light show takes on different themes in accord with the hotel's different restaurants. From Beverly's, you might see the "Undersea Gardens," complete with Neptune's Castle, conch shells, sea horses and sea serpents. Four hundred gingerbread houses will be on display at the Resort Plaza Shops, and the entrance to the hotel will sport an enormous tree of poinsettias.
The festival kicks off Friday, Nov. 24, with cruises to the "North Pole," a parade through downtown, fireworks and the flipping of the switch on the Festival of Lights.
& & & lt;i & The Festival of Lights is on display from Nov. 24-Dec. 31. The Santa Cruise is from 2:30-4 pm. Tickets: Adults, $9; 12 and under free. Call: (208) 765-4000. The Lighted Parade through downtown is from 5:30-6 pm. Fireworks begin at 6:10 pm, followed by the illumination of the Festival of Lights display at 6:20. After Nov. 24, Fantasy in Lights Cruises operate through Dec. 31 at 4:30, 6 and 7:30 pm. Tickets: $9; ages 12 and under free. Call: (208) 765-4000. & lt;/i & & lt;/center &
& & Festival of Trees & & & &
While in Coeur d'Alene, be sure to check out the Festival of Trees, a charity event that benefits the Kootenai Medical Center's Cancer Unit. This four-day event includes an auction, a senior event, two fashion shows and tree viewing opportunities for the public. Friday, Nov. 24, is the first chance to see the trees during the "Friday de'Lights" ceremony at the Resort. From 5:30-9 pm, enjoy live music from Coeurimba, Hokoyo and SoulJourn, while you check out this year's fabulously festive trees, including a Ski Trip tree, Christmas Among the Pheasants and Joyeux Noel.
"One of the trees has a sports theme, and it comes with ski packages, ski tickets to Schweitzer and Silver Mountain, one year of physical therapy, an eight-person sleigh ride and a ski trip to Salt Lake City for Alta and Brighton ski resorts," says Diane Murray, special events coordinator trainee for this year's event. "We also have one called Joyeux Noel, and it's a Parisian-themed tree that comes with a French cherry mantelpiece, a trip to Las Vegas to stay in Paris Paris, French cookbooks, music and more."
Of the other trees Murray described, the Charles Schulz and Grinch trees sound fun, but the "Christmas Among the Pheasants" tree sounds especially heartwarming -- it comes with a fishing trip to Montana and a chocolate lab puppy.
& & & lt;i & The Festival of Trees' 'Friday de'Lights' takes place Friday, Nov. 24, from 5:30-9 pm. Tickets: $2. On Saturday, the Senior Social is from 10 am-noon. Tickets: $5. The Festival of Trees Auction and Dinner is Saturday at 7 pm with the auction taking place at 8 pm. Tickets: $100. The first fashion show is Monday, Nov. 27 at 11 am. Tickets: $27.50. The second fashion show is Monday, Nov. 27, at 6 pm. Tickets: $20. Call: (208) 666-TREE. & lt;/i & & lt;/center &
& & Christmas Tree Elegance & & & &
For 18 years, Christmas Tree Elegance -- a benefit for the Spokane Symphony -- has been a downtown Spokane tradition. Ro Lisk, chair of this year's event, says that Christmas Tree Elegance 2000 will be different from previous years. "One of the things we've never done before is to move the cocktail party to a weekend night," says Lisk. "What we've found is that by the weekend, people are really ready to put the turkey to rest and get started on the holiday season."
Following Saturday night's cocktail party, the public will get their chance to view the trees -- which include a Tuscany-themed tree, "The Antebellum South," "Gone Fishin'," "Endless Honeymoon" and "Silk Road," to name a few -- on Sunday and Monday during Family Preview Days. Monday night is an after-work wine and cheese event, which features a no host bar and is otherwise free and open to the public. The event culminates on Friday, Dec. 1, from 6 pm-midnight with a Gala Dinner Dance and champagne reception, at which point the winners of the trees will be announced. Raffle tickets for the trees are $1 each and are sold at all Christmas Tree Elegance events.
& & & lt;i & Christmas Tree Elegance runs from Nov. 25-Dec. 1. The cocktail party, featuring the band Safe Sax, is Saturday, Nov. 25, from 7-11 pm. Tickets: $35. Family Preview Days are Sunday, Nov. 26, from 10 am-8 pm, and Monday, Nov. 27, from noon-8 pm. The wine and cheese party is Monday, Nov. 27, from 4-8 pm. Luncheons and Bon Marche style shows are Nov. 28-Dec. 1 at 11:30 am. Tickets: $35. The Gala Dinner Dance is Friday, Dec. 1, from 6 pm-midnight. Tickets: $100. Call: 326-3136. & lt;/i & & lt;/center &
& & Holiday Open House & & & &
While all the marigolds, roses, lobelia and dogwood of summer have gone dormant, the greenhouse at Manito Park is full of light and life. The Gaiser Conservatory, as the greenhouse is more formally called, opens up to the public from Dec. 8-Dec. 17. Visitors can bask in the rare tropical warmth and humidity of the conservatory while they look at a veritable sea of poinsettia plants. The conservatory will also have its own tree and will be decked out for the holidays with lights and other embellishments.
On the first weekend of the open house, the Friends of Manito will provide live music, refreshments, a cart with gift items for sale, activities for kids and a visit from Santa.
& & & lt;i & The Gaiser Conservatory is open for the holidays Dec. 8-17, from 8 am-7:30 pm. Free; donations accepted. Call: 456-8038. & lt;/i & & lt;/center &
& & Campbell House & & & &
Many things are changing at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture. The name is new, and a beautiful new building to house the collections are in the middle of being built in Browne's Addition.
But one thing remains the same: The beautiful Campbell House opens its doors to the community for the month of December. And it's not your usual museum tour you'll get. The house will be fully decorated with Christmas ornaments, trees and garlands, and servants will be busy setting clothes out for the Campbell family and baking bread in the kitchen.
"We call these our 'costume servants,' and they are really tour guides," says Yvonne Lopez-Morton, marketing and public relations coordinator for MAC. "They will greet everybody, but there really is no formal tour. "
The rustic Tudor-style house was designed and built in 1898 by the famous Spokane architect Kirtland Cutter. It's adorned with that era's best of the best, from French silk tapestry to beautiful wood trimmings to gilded lamps and crystal chandeliers.
"There are a few new things this year, for instance, the welcome orientation will be in the carriage house, and that is also where the holiday store will be at," says Morton. "We priced everything yesterday, and there are a lot of Christmas items -- it gets to be real magical."
& & & lt;i & The Campbell House is located at 2316 W. First in Browne's Addition. It's open from Dec. 6-23 and the hours are: Wednesday-Friday, noon-7 pm, and Saturday-Sunday, 10 am-5 pm. Tickets: $4 per person; $12, per family. Children 5 and younger and museum members are free. Call: 456-3931. & lt;/i & & lt;/center &
& & Ornament Shopping & & & &
It might be time to get rid of those vintage 1975 satin balls and invest in some sparkly new tree jewelry this year. The ornaments featured on our cover and throughout this section are from Olde World Christmas, where they have blown glass angels, Santas, bears, drummer boys and, yes, pickles, to grace your holiday tree.