Ryan Seipp

Ryan Seipp

Festival of Trees kicks off with sneak peak light up

Vancouver Island University Foundation gives pre-festival sneak peak of holiday trees and festival events.

Vancouver Island University Foundation offered up a sneak peak Tuesday of the glitter and tinsel people will see at the 18th annual Festival of Trees.

The event, showcasing holiday trees decorated by local businesses, private sponsors and organizations, raises cash for student bursaries and scholarships.

This year’s event starts today (Nov. 22) and runs until Nov. 30 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre with a fundraising goal of $150,000. To raise that cash and get more of the public participating in fundraising, this year’s trees will be raffled instead of auctioned off to the highest bidder.

“We used to silent-auction them off,” said David Forrester, of VIU Alumni Relations. “This year we changed it to a raffle program so more people can get involved. So a lot of these trees can go home for a $2 ticket. We wanted to make sure everyone in the community had an opportunity to take home one of these fantastic trees.”

Demand is great for any cash that can help students pay their way through school.

Each student accrues an average of $20,000 in debt after four years of education. Money raised helps provide just over 800 scholarships and bursaries to the 18,000 students attending VIU campuses.

The 18th annual Festival of Trees events are being held at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.

People can get a first look at the trees tonight at a mix and mingle cocktail reception from 4-6 p.m. Tickets are $50.

Family Days happen Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 24-25), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., featuring crafts, entertainment, photos with Santa and more. Admission is free, but donations to the Festival of Trees are welcome.

The Black Tie Gala happens Nov. 30. Dinner, entertainment and dancing are all part of the Festival of Trees fundraiser finale event. Tickets are $195 and guests receive a $100 charitable receipt.

The trees will also be open to the public beginning Friday (Nov. 23) Nov. 30, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Everyone can also vote for their favourite tree. Votes for the Community Tree Decorating challenge will be accepted at the cocktail reception, family days and the open house day. The winning tree earns its creators two tickets to finale gala and bragging rights.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please contact Sarah Lane at sarah@selconferenceservices.com, call 250-591-7999 or visit www.viu.ca/festival.

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