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Orillia Arts District is getting into the spirit of Christmas

Holiday Celebration Friday night one of many local festive events on busy calendar, says arts and entertainment columnist
edit Leslie Fournier by Knightvision Media
Come have a Merry Streets Alive Christmas this Friday night at 6:30 p.m. in the alley beside Stuffed Sandwiches on Peter Street, courtesy of Leslie Fournier (pictured here). Tyler Knight, Knightvision Media

The Orillia Arts District is having a Holiday Celebration Friday from 6 to 9 p.m., with many show openings and special features.

Hibernation Arts has the opening of the Orillia Fine Arts Association show as well as Jon Oelrichs’ work opening. aRt & HOME Gallery has David Warner’s trees show opening, and Three Crows Speak has the opening of Steph Dunn’s Birch, featuring beautiful glass vases handpainted with birch trees.

Orillia Museum of Art and History’s Drawliday Festival reception is Friday night as well, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $75 which includes admission to the reception as well as a chance to take a beautiful piece of original art home with you. Tickets can be picked up here.

Funds raised from that event will go to support youth programming at the museum, by upgrading the creative studio space on the third floor.

Also Friday night, at 6:30 p.m., it’s the annual Merry Streets Alive Christmas! Come get your Christmas portrait done by Through My Eyes Photography’s Deb Halbot and receive a handpainted Christmas ornament from Streets Alive. Meet in the alleyway beside Stuffed Sandwiches on Peter Street. Can’t make it Friday night? You have a second chance, Dec. 14 at 11:30 a.m., same place same deal.

Bucking with tradition, Peter Street Fine Arts Gallery has the opening of its 6x6 show on Sat. Dec. 7 from 1 to 3 p.m. This show features small 6 inch by 6 inch paintings by many of your most favourite artists in the area, perfect for gifts for loved ones or for yourself!

All of the above galleries are located on Peter Street South in the heart of Orillia’s Arts District.

In further arts district news, Otter Art Club is having a special show of artwork from all the kids involved, next Friday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. Otter Art Club is the brainchild of Naomi Woodman and Travis Shilling and is a safe, inclusive space for children to let their creativity and imagination go.

Art in many media is possible at the Otter Art Club, and more will be coming as Travis and Naomi reach out to other community members to collaborate and share programming and fun for the kids. If you have a child in your life, involve them in this special place, you will be glad you did! Otter Art Club is located upstairs at 5 Peter St. S.

Otter Art Club was nominated for an Education in the Arts Award at the Orillia and District Arts and Heritage Awards, held last Wednesday at the Geneva Event Centre.

Leanne Young, an incredible teacher at OSS, won in that category, but the poor jurors had their work cut out for them in each category, the nominations were so good. It was a great night of celebrating arts and heritage in our area, with incredibly deserving nominees and recipients, music by The Little Big Band, stage design by Paul Baxter, refreshments and MCing by John Swartz. A wonderful night of feting special people in our community.

Keep an eye out for your chance to nominate, next September!

Just a reminder that the Orillia Skateparkers Wallboard Auction on Instagram is coming to a close, Dec. 6 at 10 p.m. This is your chance to bid on one of forty custom wallboards (skateboards without the wheels) and support bringing a new skatepark to Orillia. I have a wallboard by BONES SUCKS and it looks great on my wall I have to say, so bid away and be one of the cool kids with a wallboard of your own. Go to the Instagram account @wallboardsauction to bid, before Friday at 10 p.m.

No shortage of holiday concerts this weekend, both the Orillia Concert Band and Orillia Vocal Ensemble are ringing in the Christmas season with concerts at St. Paul’s Centre’s Great Hall. The OCB is offering two concerts this Saturday, one a shorter child-friendly show at 3:30 p.m. with Santa, and the other, the traditional Christmas Prelude, Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for both shows are at the door.

The Orillia Vocal Ensemble’s Joyful Sound concert is a fundraiser for Lakehead University’s Humanities 101 course, and features Lakehead’s Principal, Dean Jobin-Bevans as well as mezzo-soprano, Laura Aylan-Parker, as special guests. Admission to this show is by donation to the cause, as in, you can get in for free, but you can’t get out! This show gets underway at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Thursday night, at 7:30 p.m. at the Orillia Opera House, join the Barra MacNeils for an East Coast Christmas. Or Friday, Dec. 6 come see the Wizard of Oz: A Panto, also at the OOH. Tickets at the OOH box office here.

Next weekend, the Cellar Singers and the Orillia Silver Band present their Christmas offerings; the Cellar Singers on Saturday at St. James’ Anglican Church at 7:30 p.m. and the OSB Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Orillia Opera House. We really are lucky to have so many excellent community musical groups performing in our town, make sure you get out and support one or more of them during this holiday season.

We are lucky to have the Leacock Museum in our town as well, and you can enjoy the ambience and beauty of this special spot during the Christmas season by reserving tickets to a special High Tea there, Dec. 8 or 15, at 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. Tickets are $29.95 and you can shop while you are there, too. The gift shop is offering 20% off during this festive season. For tickets to high tea, click here.

The Orillia Public Library has many events for all ages throughout the year, many of them free or for a very nominal sum. On Saturday, Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. you can play life-sized Clue, complete with Mr. Boddy. Register your teams of two or three for $5 each person, through the website here. You must be 18 plus and a library member to register.

Of course, library membership is free to residents of the city of Orillia. For a calendar of all the upcoming library events, go here.

Music in the bars carries on, of course. At the Brownstone Café, Friday Dan Bazinet’s birthday fundraiser for The Lighthouse. Come out and have fun and support! At the Hog ‘n’ Penny, Friday, Live with Dav. At Lake Country Grill, Saturday, Christmas Party with Charlotte and the Dirty Cowboys. At the casino, Thursday, Chris Isaak, Friday, Claudia Oshry, Saturday, Jann Arden.

Send me your arts news, by Tuesdays at noon to Thanks!