Where else can a family of four go to celebrate the holiday season, have fun, and get a chance to not only meet and have pictures taken with Santa Claus, but decorate cookies, and make Christmas ornaments. and spend only $5.
It's possible at Langley Centennial Museum in Fort Langley.
It should be no surprise that, in an institution steeped in so much history, an event the likes of Pioneer Christmas has evolved into a tradition for many Langley families.
The one-day event - this year on Saturday, Dec. 8, 1-3 p.m. - has kicked off the Christmas season at the museum for more than a decade.
Arts and culture programmer Liette Forestell said interest is growing: attendance at Pioneer Christmas has more than doubled in the past two years, to 190 people at the 2011 event.
"It is a great way for families to come to museum and learn about Christmas from days gone by," Forestell said. "It is a lot of fun and the families who have participated in this program love it!"
It's about much more than hanging up a few old-style decorations, erecting a Christmas tree, and allowing families to wander through the museum's exhibition space, Forestell explained. It's about creating an afternoon of activities that educate, engage, inspire, and thrill children.
Activities include decorating gingerbread cookies, making pioneer crafts, participating in a children's colouring contest, playing with and admiring old toys, reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, and visiting with jolly old St. Nicholas, himself.
While the museum adds new activities each year, Forestell said her favourite part of Pioneer Christmas is always when Santa arrives: "Watching the children when jolly old St. Nicholas arrives, it is very exciting."
In 2011, more traditional Christmas crafts, such as stringing popcorn, were added, as were pictures with Santa. And children could purchase a candy at the general store.
Forestell explained that each child receives two pennies upon arrival at the museum - that's their allowance. "This allows them to purchase some candy in the general store, or they can also save their allowance," she said.
New this year: children can bring their letters to Santa and mail them in the historic post office at the museum.
Given the growing popularity of the event, museum organizers are suggesting families pre-register by calling the museum at 604-5323536 or going online to www. RecExpress.tol.bc.ca.
FUN BEGINS DEC. 1
There are other Christmas programs also happening at the museum. A Drop 'n' Shop event for children ages five to 12 years runs on Dec. 1, 12: 30 to 4: 30 p.m. "Your child will enjoy festive entertainment with our elves while parents can get their last-minute shopping done," Forestell said.
Also on Dec. 1, between 1 and 4 p.m. the museum is hosting a wire-and-bead Christmas ornament class.
"If you enjoy creating unique, handcrafted Christmas ornaments then this class is for you," Forestall said. "Using wire-working techniques combined with beads and crystals, you will create several beautiful ornaments including an angel and a prism."
Again, registration is required, by calling the museum or emailing Forestell at email@example.com.