Society

THE WEEKENDER: Tree-trimming, Christmas lights, and three other ways to brighten up your Christmas

FIRST ANNUAL FESTIVE TREE DECORATING CHALLENGE
The Museum of Civilization presents its first-ever Festive Trees Decorating Challenge! The holiday attraction features a stunning display of 20 lavishly decorated trees created by local community organizations.  The themes of the trees range from sports to arts and beyond, and visitors are invited to vote for their favourite. Thursday, Dec. 23 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 24 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 26 from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Canadian Museum of Civilization, 100 Laurier St., Gatineau, QC, www.civilization.ca.

Christmas Lights Across Canada. Photo credit: NCC/CCN.

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS ACROSS CANADA (FREE!)
This weekend is the perfect time to pack the family into the car and take a drive around the capital to see the stunning displays of Christmas lights.  Every year, the NCC sponsors an annual celebration called “Christmas Lights Across Canada,” where viewers can see the winter landscape lit up by the glow of more than 300,000 multicoloured lights at over 60 sites along Confederation Boulevard.  Also, don’t miss out on seeing the snowflake projections on the Parliament Buildings at night. www.canadascapital.gc.ca.

HOLIDAY PROGRAMMING AT OTTAWA MUSEUMS
Several Ottawa museums want to help you find fun and educational ways to momentarily distract children from the excitement of Santa’s visit.  Museums across Ottawa have different programming for young children, including activities like the spacewalk obstacle course at the Museum of Aviation and Space or cool robotics demonstrations from the Museum of Science and Technology. Daily. For more information, see museum websites.

SHEN YUN PERFORMING ARTS
This grand show promises to take your breath away with its brilliant choreography, dynamic backdrops, and epic drama. Based in New York City, the troupe draws from ancient Buddhist and Taoist traditions, to showcase classical Chinese folk dance. Promised to be an uplifting, once-in-a-lifetime experience, it’s sure to please audiences regardless of age or background. Dec. 23-26. $60-$185. Southam Hall, National Arts Centre, 53 Elgin St., www.nac-cna.ca

CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE  AT ST. ANDREWS (FREE!)
Even for those who don’t make it every Sunday, going to church on Christmas Eve can be a fun, nostalgic event, and there are plenty of opportunities to catch a little of this spirit on the 24th. Most worship centres host something of the sort; our pick this year is St. Andrews Presbyterian, the quaint stone church across from the Supreme Court. Attend the 7:30 p.m. family service for carols and the children’s pageant; the 11 p.m. gathering promises readings and — you guessed it — more carols. Friday, Dec. 24. St. Andrews Presbyterian, 82 Kent St. www.standrewsottawa.ca

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