So you need a little Christmas, right this very minute - but you just don't know what to do with yourself.
With so many things to keep you busy around the holidays, how can you decide what to see and do?
We're helping you to narrow down your choices by creating our own Top 10 Christmas Things To Do in New Westminster.
1. Welcome Santa at the annual Santa Claus Parade.
This year's Santa Claus Parade and tree lighting, on the theme of A Child's Christmas, is set for 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 6, along Columbia Street. The parade will be followed by a number of related fun events: photos with Santa at the Shops at New West from noon to 4 p.m.; Merry Fishmas at the Fraser River Discovery Centre from noon to 4 p.m.; arts and crafts, kids' stories, Festival of Trees and entertainment at the Anvil Centre from noon to 4 p.m.; the holiday market edition of the Royal City Farmers' Market at River Market from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the grand tree lighting at Hyack Square at 4 p.m. Check out www.newwestcity.ca for all the details.
2. Enjoy the splendour of the Festival of Trees.
The Festival of Trees returns for its second year after the inaugural event in 2013. It's a 25-day event, running from Dec. 1 to Christmas Day, featuring trees adorned by local schools on display at River Market, and trees sponsored and decorated by businesses on display at Anvil Centre. The festival raises money to help support local schools and, this year, includes a number of special events: a poutine-and-beer fundraiser at Spud Shack on Dec. 7; a Gingerbread House Competition that's being judged on Dec. 7 at River Market; Holiday Pet Photos with the Grinch at Bosley's on Dec. 7; Photos With Santa at River Market on Dec. 13; and a Holiday Movie Night at River Market on Dec. 14. See www.festivaloftreesnewwest.ca for all the details about the festival and all the events involved. It's being hosted by The Stage New Westminster in partnership with River Market and the Anvil Centre.
3. Revel in the magic that is The Nutcracker.
The Royal City Youth Ballet returns with its traditional holiday favourite, onstage at the Massey Theatre on Monday, Dec. 22. It's on at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., featuring beautiful sets, extravagant costumes and a large cast of enthusiastic and talented young dancers, all against the backdrop of Tchaikovsky's beloved Nutcracker score. Tickets are $35 for adults, $25 for children under 13. Call 604-521-5050 or buy at ticketsnw.ca.
4. Laugh along with the Vagabond Players.
New Westminster's Vagabond Players are back with their Christmas comedy, Christmas Belles, running Wednesday, Dec. 3 to Saturday, Dec. 20 at the Bernie Legge Theatre, Queen's Park. The play by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten is set at Christmastime in the small town of Fayro, Texas, where the Futrelle Sisters are in turmoil: One is overdue with her second set of twins, one is in jail, and one is desperately trying to keep the Tabernacle of the Lamb's Christmas program from spiralling into chaos. Catch all the fun with evening shows Wednesday to Saturday at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets $15, or $13 for students and seniors, with $10 previews on Dec. 3, 4 and 5. Reserve at 604-521-0412 or email email@example.com. See www.vagabondplayers.ca for more details.
5. Bask in the sounds of the season with Winter Harp.
The acclaimed ensemble returns to New West to perform on the Massey Theatre stage with the Vancouver Welsh Men's Choir. The concert is on Sunday, Dec. 7 at 2:30 p.m., and it features the 80-voice choir in performance with harps, flutes, percussion and rare medieval instruments. See www.winterharp.com for all the details. Tickets for the local performance are on sale at ticketsnw.ca.
6. Catch a classical tradition with the NWSO.
The New Westminster Symphony Orchestra and the Richmond Academy of Dance team up for their 15th anniversary Christmas celebration, which features excerpts from the Nutcracker, festive holiday songs and specially choreographed works including talented tappers and vocalists. It's onstage at the Massey Theatre on Friday, Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12. Buy through 604-521-5050 or www.ticketsnw.ca.
7. Sing with choirs of angels - or at least, with choirs of humans who love to share music.
Choral music lovers can catch New West's own Amabilis Singers, who are joining forces with the Shaughnessy Heights United Church Sanctuary Choir for O Nata Lux, a concert celebrating the magic of the season, featuring music by Abbie Bettinis, Carl Rutti, Bob Chilcott, Guy Forbes and more. The concert runs Saturday, Dec. 13 at 2 p.m. at New Westminster Christian Reformed Church, 8255 13th Ave. in Burnaby, and on Sunday, Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m. at Shaughnessy Heights United Church, 1550 West 33rd Ave. in Vancouver. Tickets are $20, or free for kids under 11. Call 604-503-2074 or see www.amabilissingers.org for more details.
The next day, it's time for musica intima, as the acclaimed ensemble returns to New Westminster for A Christmas Story, Monday, Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Knox Presbyterian Church, 403 East Columbia St. The performance welcomes people of all ages for an evening of carols and stories in a Vinyl Café-inspired narrative. It includes works by Jonathan Quick, Don MacDonald and Richard Rodney Bennett. Tickets are $35 regular, $30 for seniors and $10 for students. Call 604-731-7718 or see www.musicaintima.org.
8. Fill yourself with festive food and fun at River Market.
New West's favourite destination for foodies and families is full of holiday goodness throughout the month of December. Among the highlights is the winter edition of the Royal City Farmers Market, which runs on two Saturdays in December: Dec. 6 and Dec. 20, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at River Market. Find organic produce, local honey, meat, eggs and dairy and more. Check out www.rcfm.ca for all the details. The River Market is also holding two December editions of its Arisans Fair, on the same Saturdays, Dec. 6 and 20, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the community square. The fair includes jewelers, knitters, crafters and a variety of other artisans. River Market is at 810 Quayside Dr. Check out its website at www.rivermarket.ca for more details.
9. Step back in time at Irving House.
Families can travel back in time, as Irving House is decked out for the holiday season. Enjoy live Christmas music in the parlour and make a decoration for one of the trees. It's on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 13, 14, 20 and 21, from noon to 4 p.m. Drop in, and the program is by donation. Or, for $17 a person, you can take in a traditional Victorian Christmas tea, along with entertainment, in Grandmother's Room. Seatings are available on Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 13, 14, 20 and 21, with seatings for six guests. Call 604-527-4640 or see the Christmas Active Living Guide at www.newwestpcr.ca for details.
10. Hang out with the Jolly Old Elf himself - over pancakes or on skates.
Santa Claus is making several special appearances around the city, but the highlights have to be his annual appearance at the city's family pancake breakfasts and the favourite Skate With Santa event at Moody Park Arena. The breakfast events include entertainment, sing-along and of course a visit from the big man himself. The Queensborough Community Centre has its Breakfast With Santa event on Sunday, Dec. 7 from 9 to 11 a.m. Call 604-525-7388. Or you can enjoy one on Saturday, Dec. 13 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at Centennial Community Centre. It's $6, call ahead for tickets to 604-777-5100.
To skate with Santa, check out Moody Park Arena on Saturday, Dec. 20 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Regular admission rates apply to this skate - but you get a visit from Santa Claus himself included in the cost, plus cookie decorating, a Christmas craft and special on-ice activities. Call 604-525-5301. See the Christmas Active Living Guide at www.newwestpcr.ca for all the details.