Festival starts at 5 p.m. tonight There may be records set on the hill this weekend, but the first record festival organizers hope to establish is a Guinness Book of World Records mark for the largest mountainside torch light parade Friday night. Locals and visitors, families, relatives, kids, grandparents are all encouraged to bring their flashlights, head lamps, portable lanterns and what have you (but no flaming torches) to Whistler Mountain’s village gondola at 5 p.m. tonight (Dec. 6). Organizers hope enough people will take part to form a giant Christmas tree outline on the ski slope. The parade will then move off the mountain and become the Parade of Champions, passing through Mountain and Village Squares on the way to the conference centre. The flashing lights and sirens of Whistler Fire department vehicles will accompany the parade. Everyone is invited to join in the parade. Organizers hope participants will wear clothes representative of their ethnic background, whether that's a lumberjack coat over a hockey sweater, lederhosen and knee socks, or full-on kabuki theatrical gear. World Cup opening ceremonies start at the conference centre once the parade gets there, at about 6:15 p.m. The opening ceremonies will be followed by the bib draw at 6:30 at the conference centre. Local ski club athletes will assist the top 30 World Cup racers in picking their start numbers for Saturday’s downhill. Following the bib draw The Art Rogers Big Band will play in the conference centre, round about 7 p.m. Admission is by donation (see story on the band on page 34). Donations will help develop the Whistler Centre for Business and the Arts’ Young Artists Jazz Experience program, which will start next summer. A food fair organized for the Big Band Swing dance at the conference centre will not just entice the taste buds, but raise money for a worthy cause, too. Nesters Market is donating the proceeds from the sale of its "Taste of Nesters" veggie burgers, its popular Thai salad and other goodies to the Whistler Centre for Business and the Arts. But ice cream fans will want to check out the sundae-making booth, staffed by the Whistler Winterhawks girls midget hockey team. Put what you like on your sundae, proceeds also go to the Centre for Business and the Arts. As well as the food fair, virtual reality games in skiing, snowboarding and a mystery sport will pit players against a local skiing hero's best time. A raffle and live auction includes such eye-popping prizes as a heli-skiing trip for two, double VIP ducats to Whistler World Cup '97, and a World Cup jacket. On Saturday evening, following the downhill, the annual Festival of Lights gala dinner, dance and auction will take place in the conference centre. Among this year’s auction items are a Canadian Alpine Ski Team downhill suit autographed by team members, a fishing adventure in the Queen Charlottes, an authentic native tepee, a day on the slopes with Rob Boyd, Steve Podborski or national snowboard team member Ross Rebagliati, and autographed jerseys and sticks from Pavel Bure and Trevor Linden. Tickets for the dinner are available from local real estate agents.