Add this must-do to your holiday season list: a stroll in the courtyard amid the thousands of lights and Christmas display at the Silver Sage Winery.
Owner Anna Manola, her son Cornelius and the Silver Sage team have created a Christmas wonderland at the winery located on Ryegrass Road north of Osoyoos.
“We wanted to incorporate the spirit of Christmas with Christmas for kids,” says Anna of the more than 75,00 lights, dozens of inflatables and more traditional Nativity scene that combine to create visual and audio magic.
“You go out and you’re a kid again — you believe in Santa Claus and the magic of Christmas.”
The Manolas brought the Christmas tradition to the South Okanagan from their home in Coquitlam.
For many years, their home provided a spectacular show and became such a destination that the local fire department was invited to bring a truck and start collecting donations for the BC Children’s Hospital.
“My oldest son Cornelius is a Christmas fanatic,” says Anna. “Every year he accumulates more and more and more. We’ve always put lights up at Christmas, but since they started with (Winter) in Wine Country, they encouraged us to do something very special.”
The marvel that overwhelms the children and leaves many parents speechless doesn’t happen overnight.
“They boys started a week before Halloween this year — it was pretty much five weeks, four guys, to put up all the lights.”
The effort, Anna says, is not in stringing lights but in coordinating the colour.
“My son, Cornelius, stayed late at night here and dried every plug, because they would get wet — every single plug. Then they would coordinate the lights and make them dance.
“It’s a passion for him and for us and I think it brings so much happiness.”
Inside the winery’s shop area, more than 30 Santas, Father Christmases and Pere Noels provide their own magic.
The display will be open to the public as Winter in Wine Country continues this weekend. From there, the winery plans to leave its gate open until 9 p.m. every evening through the holiday season.
“We want people to come see it and enjoy it,” Anna says. “We leave the gate open so people can come down and walk around and take pictures and see all the lights.”
Not surprisingly, there’s a substantial cost in both preparing the display and then lighting it for more than a month. But Anna says that’s inconsequential.
“It’s expensive, but it’s one way you give something back to the community,” she says. “The joy we get sharing with others compensates us.”