By Mabell, Dave on December 7, 2019.
For generations, the passenger train was the ticket to good times and adventure.
For southern Albertans, it provided a convenient way to attend a conference in Calgary, to visit the grandparents in Brandon, or to dip your toes into the vast Pacific Ocean for the first time.
In many parts of the world, today’s fast and frequent trains are still a preferred way to travel. In most of Alberta, alas, train travel has become a distant memory.
Railways remain a vital part of our economy just the same, as the recent Canadian National dispute reminded us. But in Western Canada, many people may view the rail lines as just another interruption on their highway travel.
Except Canadian Pacific’s famous Holiday Train!
Its brightly lighted cars, flag-waving locomotives and high-spirited entertainers are welcome everywhere. It’s become a national symbol of Christmas season sharing, as well as a reminder of the excitement so many Canadian families felt over the years as they waited at the station for a loved one to arrive home for Christmas.
And on Wednesday, it’s southern Albertans’ turn to relive that experience. This year’s Holiday Train is scheduled to arrive in Lethbridge at 7 p.m., alongside the parking lot next to London Drugs, with entertainment starting about 7:15. Alberta’s own Terri Clark will be sharing the stage with singer-songwriter Dallas Smith during stops in southern Alberta and west through British Columbia.
Admission is free, but of course everyone is encouraged to bring a food or cash donation to our local food banks.
And just a suggestion: Park a comfortable walking distance away to avoid something like our famous post-fireworks jam each July 1.
Another holiday treat, with still more history! Songs and stories from Shakespeare’s pen will be shared Dec. 20, along with a retelling of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” during a festive evening at Casa. The Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society – the folks who present Shakespeare in the Park – will also be serving such Tudor treats as mulled wine, mince pies, eggnog and gingerbread.
Tickets ($20) are available at Casa and audience members are encouraged to dress in Victorian or Tudor style.
Even more durable, Handel’s celebrated oratorio “The Messiah” was written in 1741. It’s been presented in cities around the world including Lethbridge countless times over the years since – and will be again Dec. 15 and 16 at Southminster United. The Sunday performance will be at 3 p.m., the Monday repeat at 7:30 p.m.
Guest conductor Marvin Dueck will lead four soloists, the Chinook Singers and a chamber-sized group of Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra musicians. Check http://www.lethbridge
symphony.org for tickets.
For a selection of much newer choral works – in just a few days – the Caritas community choir will bring “Joy to the World” at Southminster United on Tuesday. Director Frank Gnandt will lead the choristers in contemporary carol settings from the Florida a capella group Voctave and the British vocal ensemble Voces8.
And Lethbridge cellist Mark Rodgers will be featured in a symphonic arrangement of “Serenity (O Magnum Mysterium)” and a new arrangement of “Silent Night” by Dan Forrest.
Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. concert will be available at the door.
Looking ahead, talented Lethbridge students from three middle schools – G.S. Lakie, Gilbert Paterson and Wilson – are collaborating to present “Rockin’ for the Red Cross.” Popular music bands from each school will perform Dec. 17, 7 p.m. at Lakie Middle School on Blackfoot Road West – the first Whoop-Up Drive turn-off west of the fire hall.
As well as raising cash for the Red Cross, the $5 concert will raise awareness of Lethbridge music educators’ innovative program for middle school grades. Tickets will be sold at the door.
Now for a few last-minute reminders:
Tonight, the annual Mayor’s Concert at Southminster Church will feature both of the Lethbridge Community Band organization’s Gold and Silver Bands, plus a guest performance by students in the Agnes Davidson School Choirs. It’s set for 7 p.m., with tickets at the door.
The final Geomatic Attic concert of the month, Wednesday in the Attic, will feature Kacy and Clayton. Check geomaticattic.ca for tickets.
The Winter Light Festival resumes Thursday to Saturday at the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden, with gates open from 6 to 9 p.m. Family admission prices are offered, and hot chocolate, snacks and horse-drawn wagon rides will also be available.
The annual Festival of Nativities will also open Thursday through Saturday at the LDS chapel near the Enmax Centre. Hours on Thursday and Friday will be 1 to 9 p.m., then 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and 2 to 8 p.m. on Sunday. Choirs have been invited to perform each day, and admission is free.