2011 Festival of Trees

It’s been a few years since I last attended the Festival of Trees, but when May offered me an extra ticket she had been given by her office, it seemed like a good chance to get reacquainted with one of Edmonton’s Christmas traditions.

Festival of Trees

It would be difficult for most people not to be swayed by the spirit of the season after stepping inside the immaculately decorated halls of the Shaw Conference Centre. Between the music, the lights, and of course, the trees, the room was glowing with the joy of Christmas.

Presents make up the tree!

A recyclable tree


One sweet hearth

May and I agreed that attending the festival towards the end of its final day was actually not a bad idea; by that point, most of the crowds had dispersed. It meant we could take our sweet time admiring our favourite trees, revelling in their beauty and detail.

Festival of Trees

Dissipating crowds


Bringing the outside in

It’s hard to know how veteran contributors come up with new ideas year after year, but it was evident there were some wonderful creativity behind some of the tree themes. Most of my favourites were probably aimed more at children, but what can I say? I’m a kid at heart.

Sesame Street Tree

How can you not love Elmo?

Under the Sea Tree

Under the Sea

Toys tree

More toys (yep, that’s a Furby you see)

We also noted new-to-us displays of interesting wreaths, including a stunning wreath constructed out of steel ribbons.


May and I also made sure to tour the gingerbread creations (most definitely went above and beyond construction of a “house”). Being a Star Wars fan, I had a soft spot for the Ewok tree hut, but I also had to marvel at the detail in the very aptly named “Have You Any Wool?”, down to the texture of the knit stocking.

Ewok gingerbread house

“Forest of Endor”

Have You Any Wool?

“Have You Any Wool?”

I also loved the comical scene in “A Merry Little Christmas Tree”, created by the Shaw Conference Centre pastry chefs. They definitely had a sense of humour when it came to this particular landing of Santa’s sleigh.

Shaw Conference Centre gingerbread house

“A Merry Little Christmas Tree”

Thanks again to May for inviting me – it was a great reminder of what I’ve been missing these past few years!

Festival of Trees

A friend and I headed to the Shaw Conference Centre for Edmonton’s annual Festival of Trees event tonight. In support of the University of Alberta Hospital, the Festival showcases hundreds of decorated trees and offers live entertainment, shopping, and activities for children. I am ashamed to admit that although I’ve lived in the city all my life, this was my first time at the Festival. When I asked my sister about the impression she garnered from volunteering last year, she said, “It’s fun if you have kids.” Well, I have no kids to speak of, but this seemed like a way to ease into the Christmas season that did not involve listening to carols streaming from store speakers.

The Hall is indeed beautifully decorated, with an arrangement conducive to allowing for easy access and movement between displays. Groups of trees dotted the middle of the room, separated by wide, maneuverable aisles, while organized children’s activities such as card making and cookie decorating occupied the periphery. A stage, seating area, and concession lay at the far end of the room, with the perfunctory gift shop located near the exit. Whomever designed it definitely had parents and young children in mind though, as there are benches scattered throughout the space.

The trees being the main attraction, we wove through the displays, each selecting our favorites. The “theme” trees stood out the most, as by the end, individual tress began to morph into a generic cloud of tinsel, multicolored lights, and crystal ornaments. I had a soft spot for the Fringe Theatre Adventures creation, but my personal award for originality goes to the makers of the only “upside down” tree.

Despite taking in a brief highland dancing performance and exploring the gingerbread houses and hospital discovery area, we were finished our rounds in an hour. I am glad that I attended this year, but I have to agree with my sister’s assessment about the Festival overall: it would be more fun with kids.

Entering the Hall

Fringe Theatre Adventures tree

Upside down tree

Star Wars tree

Ducks (and frogs) in a tree

The coolest gingerbread “house”

Lovely silver and reflective exit display (notice the mirror-tiled fireplace and foil-wrapped tricycle!)