Full Slate for Busiest Holiday Weekend

By Beacon Staff

From Polson to Whitefish, one of the biggest weekends of the year has arrived. Art walks, Christmas strolls, parades, tree lightings and more – it’s all happening on Dec. 5 and 6.

Kalispell’s annual art walk and holiday stroll is on Friday night, featuring 29 businesses this year, mostly located downtown. The stroll begins at 5 p.m. and lasts until 9 p.m. Businesses, including an assortment of galleries, will stay open throughout the evening. People are invited to visit the shops, enjoy free refreshments and check out local art and retail.

Among the stores that will be open are Fawn Boutique, Colter Coffee Roasting, Avalanche Creek, Noice Studio and Gallery, Camas Creek Yarn, the Hockaday and many more. Event organizers are expecting up to 1,000 people. Many of the businesses will have special guests, including artists at the galleries.

Strollers can pick up a stamp card with all 29 businesses on it. If they visit at least 14 businesses and get stamps at each one, they qualify for a chance to win a $100 gift certificate at the participating businesses. Ten certificates will be awarded.

Also, the Kalispell Fire Department, a sponsor of the stroll, will be holding an open house and parents can take advantage of the opportunity to let their kids see the fire trucks while checking out the facility.

Whitefish has a busy weekend. On Friday beginning at 5 p.m., the town hosts its own Christmas stroll. Central Avenue between Railways and Third streets will be closed off for the event. Twenty-eight vendors are scheduled to have their doors open and offer refreshments. The Whitefish High School band will provide music while Whitefish Radio will also have a station set up.

People will also have the opportunity to sample roasted chestnuts and other food provided by local vendors. Horse-drawn wagon rides are available. Kids, or adults, can have their photos taken with Santa Claus at McGough & Co., beginning at 6 p.m. Tailwaggers is also offering photo opportunities for pets and their owners.

From Friday through Sunday is the annual women’s hockey tournament at the Stumptown Ice Den on Wisconsin Avenue hits the ice.

Columbia Falls
Friday’s Night of Lights in Columbia Falls is a 23-year tradition. The craft fair begins at 4 p.m. at the Glacier Discovery Square and runs until 8 p.m. The show is also held on Saturday. The lighting of the town’s official tree, which was planted in November, begins at 6:25 p.m. on Friday night, followed by the parade at 6:30 p.m.

The parade runs through uptown Columbia Falls. Santa arrives at the end of the parade with Mrs. Santa and will be on hand to visit with children at the North Valley Hospital Community Center Room on Nucleus Avenue. Also, a variety of holiday scenes and characters will be lit at Marantette Park. They will remain lit throughout the holiday season. Uptown businesses will be open late on Friday evening, offering food and refreshments.

On Saturday, Bigfork will hold its annual holiday parade, which begins at 6 p.m. at the high school and works its way down through the village. Vendors will be on hand to offer crafts and food, while all of the downtown businesses will be open until 8 p.m., when the parade wraps up. After Santa Claus does his part in the parade, he will be at Mountain Mike’s Bike Shop beginning at 8 p.m. Parents can take their kids to sit on Santa’s lap.

Downtown merchants are sponsoring Polson’s biggest art walk of the year on Friday night, running from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The night is also customer appreciation day, with shops staying open late and providing refreshments and appetizers. Among the participating businesses are Sandpiper Gallery, Cove Deli, Grey Leaf Gallery, Wild Side Chocolates, Touch of Montana and many more. Parents can take their kids to Cove Deli for pictures with Santa. Also, the town’s annual parade of lights is held on Saturday evening at 5:30 p.m.