Located in Maple Ridge, just east of Vancouver, British Columbia, the Timberline Ranch is a picture perfect place to ring in the holiday season. Nestled away on over 73 acres of lush British Columbian terrain, Timberline Ranch has been improving the lives of its visitors since 1961. The ranch is registered as an non-profit society that helps to improve the well-being of children and families. Timberline Ranch is a year-round establishment that aims to provide hope and positive life building lessons that last well beyond the visit to the ranch. They offer kids and families the chance to participate in camps, retreats, group rentals, and special events like the Timberline Country Christmas.
The Timberline Country Christmas is a newer festival, only entering its second year. This didn't stop the crowds for last year’s initial celebration as they attracted an impressive 4,000+ visitors to their ranch. They transform the friendly confines of the property into a winter wonderland, where you’ll find a wide range of fun activities that are great fun for all ages. The ranch is set up in a linear fashion, letting visitors experience the attractions at their own pace. A few highlights along the way include an Origins of Christmas area that tells the history of the holiday, a bakery where you can create delicious cookies, a petting zoo filled with friendly animals, and a covered wagon ride that showcases the picture perfect surroundings of the ranch. Those looking to contribute to a worthy cause can buy a tree to decorate. These will be prominently displayed during the festival. We interviewed Craig Douglas, the Executive Director of the Timberline Ranch, about the Country Christmas and all the holiday festivities it includes.
RAL: Tell me a bit about the event.
CD: This is our second year and we were overwhelmed by the response in 2014. Last year, we reached full capacity at about 4,300 people for the nine-day event. This year, we have expanded to 15 days, and have room for about 8,500 people. Although the event is definitely designed with children and families in mind, we have been surprised at how many adults come, sometimes a big group with just one or two children. I think families have the best time, not just through their kids' experience, but more because adults seem to like how relaxed, peaceful, and uncrowded the event is. Don't expect Disneyland; it's a simple event.
RAL: What makes the Timberline Country Christmas unique?
CD: Probably the location more than anything. Timberline Ranch is a real horse ranch (we have about 45 horses) on 73 acres out in the country. It's just a lovely seven minute drive from downtown Maple Ridge. It's also a beautiful camp and retreat centre, so there are plenty of amenities available - nice, warm buildings, good washroom facilities, food services, and so on. Not only is the location unique, but the event itself is designed to remind us of a much simpler, non-commercial Christmas, and I think people are really appreciating that.
RAL: Take me through a typical day's activities.
CD: After driving through the country and seeing the Christmas lights, you'll park (for free) and then walk about 20 seconds to the indoor registration area, where there will be a forest of Christmas trees. After signing in and voting for your favorite tree, you will walk to the Bakery, where you will enjoy decorating (and eating!) a snowman cookie. Now it's time to board the covered wagon and head to the barn, listening to Christmas music throughout the five minute ride. At the barn, you will enjoy the petting zoo, some games, pony rides (if pre-purchased), and a treasure-maze. Now it's time to get back on the wagon and head for the Lodge, where you will enjoy SnowVille (throwing "snowballs" at targets), the Photobooth (with your camera), the Workshop (making a Christmas decoration), and Story Land. Upon leaving, you will pass through the Timberline Cafe, where a variety of snacks and drinks are available. The whole experience takes about 90-120 minutes.
RAL: What can attendees expect for food options?
CD: Simple snacks are available in the Timberline Cafe, such as hot and cold drinks, hot dogs, popcorn, and freshly baked goods. We also have a semi-private eating area for small groups that wish to have an event or a party.
RAL: Does the event support any special causes?
CD: Timberline Ranch is a charitable society, serving children and families all year round with camps, retreats, guest-group rentals, and special events. All proceeds from the event go back into making Timberline a better place.
RAL: Why should people come to Timberline Country Christmas?
CD: I believe that family traditions are extremely valuable, and even after one year, we keep hearing people tell us that this is something they want to do year after year with their kids. They love the fact that it's not designed to "hype up" the kids about Christmas, and many have expressed their gratitude that this is a non-Santa event, as the kids seem to get enough of that everywhere else. We've also worked hard to make it affordable. At an average of $9.00 per person and free parking, it's pretty hard to go wrong. There are no hidden costs, so people won't feel "nickeled and dimed." Sure, you can buy food or pony rides in addition, but they are also reasonably priced and up front. I'd say, if people are looking for something unique, fun, and inexpensive, "Come out to the country!"
For more information on this fun and unique Christmas celebration please visit the Timberline Country Christmas website.