Festival of Trees moves downtown

Vancouver Island University’s premier fundraising event is moving down the hill.

Vancouver Island University’s premier fundraising event is moving down the hill.

The 17th annual Festival of Trees will be held at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre in downtown Nanaimo this year instead of on campus as it has been for the past seven years.

By uprooting the event, the VIU Foundation hopes to attract new people and expand capacity, said Jason Nelson, festival chairman.

“We felt that after seven years up at the campus itself, we’d reached our capacity,” he said. “We just basically outgrew our venue.”

The event was also attracting mostly people who are already foundation supporters, whereas with a more central location, more people will have a chance to participate, said Nelson.

“One of the goals of the VIU Foundation is to increase our exposure,” he said. “We definitely felt this was what was needed to take the festival up to the next level.”

The event has also been held at Beban Park Social Centre in the past.

From Nov. 14-27, the public can view more than 50 Christmas trees decked out in festive decorations from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday at the conference centre.

The annual gala dinner, charity auction and dance takes place Nov. 25 and this year’s dinner commemorates VIU’s 75th anniversary.

VIU culinary arts and hospitality students will create the dining experience in partnership with the conference centre.

Festival Days are Nov. 26 and 27 and include entertainment, goodies and crafts for the whole family in exchange for a small donation at the door.

The annual Santa Parade hosted by the Lions Club of Nanaimo also takes place on Nov. 26, which could attract more people to the festival, Nelson added.

The Festival of Trees supports scholarships, awards and bursaries for VIU students.

Last year, the event raised more than $100,000.

Tickets are on sale now. For more information, please call Renee Bohun at 250-740-6258 or e-mail renee.bohun@viu.ca.