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Getting inside for holiday cheer

The Whistler Holiday Experience hosts indoor holiday alternatives, including A Christmas Carol

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What: The Whistler Holiday Experience

When: Dec. 21 to Jan. 6

Where: Telus Conference Centre

Admission: Free

“Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful. And since we have no place to go….”

But there is a place to go.

Lyricist Sammy Cahn and composer Jule Styne didn’t know about the Whistler Holiday Experience when they were writing their classic Christmas tune back in 1945.

From Dec. 21 to Jan. 6 the Telus Conference Centre will be home to a range of activities.

“It’s great for families who are looking to do something during foul weather,” said Sue Eckersley, who is volunteering her time and her Watermark staff’s time to coordinate the event. “This is a joint venture by many parties within the community to offer our guests additional value to their Whistler experience. We are keeping as much as we can for free and just trying to provide an alternative place for those rainy days… We are going to change the conference centre into a winter wonderland.”

The conference centre will be divided into a family fun zone, a teen activity space and a gift-wrapping zone.

The Family Fun Zone includes five bouncy castles with inflatable slides, basketball hoop and toddler zone. The main ballroom will include a nine-hole mini golf course as well as a small movie screen for holiday flicks.

“There will be seasonal movies like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas as well as other kid favourites like Shrek,” Eckersley said.

The Family Fun Zone is free of charge.

Teens will have a hangout of their own in the Great Room, equipped with video games, air hockey and foosball.

“It’s great if kids just want to have some quiet time inside and come out of the cold or rest after a great day on the hill,” Eckersley said.

Parents must monitor their children and youth while they play. A café will be set up with tables and chairs for parents to rest. Eckersley is looking into working with the Nanny Network to offer services for a fee.

There will also be an activity kiosk at the centre where visitors can learn about the different activities in the area, including everything from cross country skiing and snowshoeing to dog sledding and kids programs.

Photos with Santa, taken by Coast Mountain Photography, are in the works with families able to receive images within one working day for $10.

Gift-wrapping is also available. Shoppers who buy an item within Whistler Village and charge it to their Visa card receive gift wrapping for free, otherwise presents can be wrapped for a donation to a local charity.

The Whistler Holiday Experience will host a dramatic reading of Charles Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol on Dec. 23 at 8 p.m. at the conference centre. The Whistler Forum is presenting the event in partnership with CBC Radio with all proceeds benefiting the Whistler Public Library Literacy Programs and the Jill Ackhurst Social Action Fund of the Community Foundation of Whistler. CBC partners with local community groups across Canada to host A Christmas Carol readings to raise funds for charities that mesh with Dickens' own principles: children, literacy, families existing on insufficient wages, education for all and health care. To quote Scrooge’s late and ghostly business partner, Jacob Marley, “Mankind was my business!"

“People have told me they consider the reading the true beginning of the Christmas holiday season,” said program founder Judy Maddren of CBC. “The readings have become important fundraising efforts in their communities.”

Readers for the night’s entertainment include Alix Nicol, Heather Paul, Maureen Douglas, Chris Quinlan, Geoff Playfair and William Roberts.

The evening also gets into the holiday cheer with carols and a reception with holiday goodies afterwards.

Tickets are $10.

The Family Fun Zone will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Dec. 21 to Jan. 6; however, the zone will be closed Dec. 24 to 26 and the 31st to accommodate Midnight Mass, Christmas and preparations for First Night festivities.

“We want to add value to the guest experience as a thank you for guests choosing to spend their holiday money in Whistler,” Eckersley said.

For more information, visit whistlerfirstnight.com.

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