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COLUMN: Want to feel festive? Check out these local Christmas events

There are tons of Christmas markets, concerts and activities on the December menu and lots of ways to support local businesses and charities
Steel Horse Gypsies
The Steel Horse Gypsies will be performing at The Lighthouse Holiday Wish List Concert on Dec. 11 at St. Paul's Centre.

Welcome to December, the busiest, craziest month of the year!

Orillia arts and culture folks aren’t going to let the ongoing pandemic stand in the way of some good clean, safe fun as we lead up to Christmastime. There are lots of events for the whole family to enjoy and get in the holiday spirit.

One event I would like to highlight this week is The Lighthouse Holiday Wish List Concert. I talked to Lynn Thomas, the Development and Communications Manager at The Lighthouse, about how the concert came about.

OrilliaMatters: How did the idea for a fundraising Christmas concert come up?

Lynn Thomas: I had posted the Holiday Wish List for The Lighthouse on our social media and one of our board members (Jack Latimer, formerly of KICX) made a video on his page. He shared that he gave items from the wish list to his wife for her birthday. The lead singer of The Steel Horse Gypsies, Bill McConnell, is friends with Jack on Facebook so he reached out to me, and we have taken it from there.

Bill has a real heart for what we do as he has a social work background, and I gave him a tour at The Lighthouse. We have done posters, a PSA video and have done interviews for various local media.

OM: How does it work? How do patrons gain entry to the show?

LT: The concert is open to anyone with proof of vaccinations and entry fee is a minimum of $20 to The Lighthouse or equivalent NEW items from our holiday wish list. The show is at St. Paul's Centre, Dec. 11. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the concert starts at 8 p.m. Light refreshments will be sold to benefit The Lighthouse as well.

OM: Tell us about the musical acts who will be performing.

LT: The opening act is New Moon Junction, and the headliner is The Steel Horse Gypsies, who have a rock/country vibe. Both bands are well known and very popular.

OM: Any other thoughts?

LT: We'd like to fill the concert hall and have a great time enjoying live music. All proceeds will benefit The Lighthouse operations and help us provide for the needs of those experiencing homelessness, poverty, food insecurity, and mental health needs.

The Lighthouse holiday wish list items include sugar, grocery gift cards, chocolate chips, various sizes of Ziploc bags, cereal, lunch bag snacks, laundry detergent, fabric sheets, notepads & pens, adult colouring pencils, men’s boxers/women’s underwear, pajamas, backpacks, sleeping bags, Orillia bus tickets, $5 coffee gift cards, and new toques/gloves (plain preferred).

See you at the show!

Lots of other events happening in the next week or so, here is a quick rundown:

Holiday Markets

Dec. 4: ODAS Park Farmers’ Market, Quayle’s Brewery

Dec. 5: Quayle’s Brewery, Braestone Farm, Brechin Legion

Dec. 10 and 11: Rustica Pizza Vino, 5 to 9 p.m.

Holiday Concerts (Proof of vaccination is needed for each one):

Dec. 4, 3:30 and 7:30 p.m., Orillia Concert Band Christmas concerts at St. Paul’s Centre. The afternoon concert is a one hour, family friendly one where I have heard Santa will make an appearance. The evening one is longer, more suited for older family members. Tickets at

Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m., The Cellar Singers present The Messiah at St. James Anglican Church. Tickets

Dec. 12, at 2 p.m., The Orillia Silver Band presents Brass and Voices, with special guests, members of Jazzamatazz, at the Orillia Opera House. Tickets

Dec. 14 at 6 p.m., The Orillia Community Children’s Choir presents its Christmas concert at St. Paul’s Centre. Entry is $5 at the door.

Also at the Orillia Opera House: The Barra McNeils, Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m.; The Music of Andrew Lloyd Weber, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m.; And Revival, the ultimate comeback show, presented by Theatre By the Bay, with loads of dancers performing to loads of music, Dec. 18 at 6 p.m.

Arts events? We got ‘em!

Dec. 2 at 7 p.m., Craig Mainprize Holiday Art Soiree at The Long Wolf Café, with four original pieces to be auctioned off, proceeds to the Orillia Youth Centre.

Dec. 4, 12 noon to 3 p.m., exhibition opening for Norman Catchpole at Hibernation Arts.

Also Dec. 4, Peter Street Fine Arts annual 6x6 show should be in process, drop in to pick up some small affordable art for people on your Christmas list.

Dec. 11, noon to 3 p.m., a Holiday Art Hop in the Arts District and downtown.

And what’s going on at the Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMAH)? Lots there as well!

In addition to regular exhibits, OMAH is bringing back Holidate, Wednesdays and Fridays from 5 to 7 p.m., limited admission and you can enjoy an art project, special gallery tours, a snack and hot drink for you and your special someone. $50 per couple.

Friday and Saturdays from 1 to 3 p.m. until Christmas, drop in with the family to create holiday themed crafts together. On December 11, a special chance to learn some Korean culture with OMAH’s intern, Dong Suk Park. Free, no registration necessary.

Dec. 22, kids ages 5-12 are invited to join OMAH educators for Wintery Wednesday, a single-day kids’ camp that runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. During this fun and creative day at the museum, campers will be guided through snowy workshops and activities both inside and outside of OMAH (don’t forget your snow pants!). Register soon as this camp is selling out fast.

For information or to register, click here

One last note, the Merry Streets Alive Christmas is this Saturday at 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., in front of Rustica Pizza Vino. Pick up an ornament and have your Christmas photo taken!

Have a great first week of December, and if you have arts news, send it to by Tuesday at noon to be included.