Santa parade lights up Nanaimo’s downtown core

NANAIMO – Few float entries cancelled last year’s event.

After a one-year hiatus, Nanaimo’s Santa Claus Parade will return Saturday (Nov. 30) at 5 p.m.

A lack of parade floats led to last year’s cancellation, but according to Nanaimo Lions Club member and parade chairman Eric Anderson, there are plenty of entrants this year – more than double last year’s total of nine.

“We’ve got about 20 entries actually, so I think it’s going to be pretty good,” said Anderson.

The parade, which is organized by the Lions club and the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association, will start at Victoria Road and Farquhar Street and the procession will go along Victoria Crescent, across the highway to Commercial Street, to Church Street and end on Front Street.

Anderson said people can still enter parade floats “up until the last minute” and while there are detailed rules and regulations – no material or candy being handed out, vehicles must be insured etc. – entrants are encouraged to be creative and make their floats as lively as possible.

“We would like to see as many floats as possible, of course, but they do need to be lit because it’ll be an early-evening parade, which always helps add ambiance and it makes the parade a little more exciting when the floats are lit with the festive lighting and blowups and all that kind of thing,” said Robyn Tonack, marketing and event coordinator for the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association.

“What we like the most I think is the band aspect,” Anderson said. “If you can get some music going, it’s much, much more interesting. (There’s) just not that many, unfortunately, that do it.”

Adding to the festive atmosphere will be the appearance of Santa Claus himself, who will be first arriving at Vancouver Island Conference Centre via Harbour Air, tending to Santa’s Workshop, and then will grace the parade with his presence.

“Santa arrives at 2 p.m. and then he opens his workshop at the bottom level of the conference centre, right below the Nanaimo Museum, and then he’ll have an opportunity to visit with the children and hand out candy canes and there’ll be hot chocolate and crafts,” Tonack said, adding that after a few hours visiting with children, jolly old St. Nick will be whisked away by horse and trolley to take part in the parade.

Hot chocolate will also be available at Diana Krall Plaza and parade attendees are encouraged to dress warm and allow families and children to sit up front.

For a parade float entry form and to view rules, please go to

For more information, please contact Tonack at 250-754-8141.