In past years, Summerland has launched the festive season with the annual Summerland Festival of Lights. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival has been cancelled. (Summerland Review file photo)

In past years, Summerland has launched the festive season with the annual Summerland Festival of Lights. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival has been cancelled. (Summerland Review file photo)

Festival of Lights cancelled in Summerland

Annual November event normally launches start of festive season

The festive season will arrive quietly in Summerland this year.

In past years, the Festival of Lights, on the last Friday of November, would bring thousands to the community to enjoy entertainment, hot foods and beverages, fireworks and the launch of Summerland’s holiday lights display.

But this year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event has been cancelled.

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In the past, organizers have estimated attendance at the annual festival at between 12,000 and 14,000 people, and it has been billed the largest single-day festival in the Okanagan Valley.

This year, provincial restrictions have a limit of no more than 50 people at public gatherings.

David Hull, executive director of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber-run event will not occur, although Summerland businesses may hold their own smaller events to launch the start of the festive season.

“There is an opportunity for businesses to come up with plans that will serve them reasonably well,” he said.

The festival has been held each year since 1987, and while Hull wants the community to show the holiday spirit, he said it is important to follow the protocols to slow the spread of the virus.

“We have an obligation as a society to look after the best interests of everyone,” he said.

He added that this year, the holiday season will focus on small gatherings and small groups rather than large-scale events.

“We need to find joy in whatever we can,” Hull said.

While the cancellation affects the Festival of Lights, it does not affect displays put up around the community, including banners and lights to mark the festive season.

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