Ride the rails and see the lights at Minters

Chilliwack's Minter Country Store offers up an array of Christmas-themed family activities, starting Dec. 9

Brian Minter sits on the new train at Minter Country Garden on Wednesday. The shiny red locomotive will be taking passengers for its first ride through the store's indoor Christmas display on Friday.

Brian Minter sits on the new train at Minter Country Garden on Wednesday. The shiny red locomotive will be taking passengers for its first ride through the store's indoor Christmas display on Friday.

Nothing says Christmas like thousands of twinkling lights, taking a magical train ride, curling up for a good story, or getting in touch with nature.

There will be all that and more at Minter Country Gardens starting this Friday, as the store transforms for the holiday season. Taking part in the store’s festivities has become an annual tradition for many Chilliwack families, and ‘riding the rails’ through the store is definitely a highlight for the young and young at heart.

And this year, a new, miniature locomotive will be pulling passengers through the lighted displays. The new train engine and driver’s car are freshly painted a beautiful holiday red, and have just been unpacked from the crate. They made a long journey themselves from Oregon, where they were created with loving care by the same family who built Minters’ first rideable train back in 2002.

Back then, the train rides were weather dependent as the route took passengers through the back of the property. But many years ago, Brian Minter explains, they decided to bring the train indoors for an all-weather experience.

The staff at Minters have been busy working around the clock to get ready for Friday’s big opening at 5 p.m. There are many of the standard favourite displays, but some new ones as well.

“We had to have Frozen,” Minter says. But there is also a new Christmas Island display, and a fun wintery tunnel.

The train runs every day now until Dec. 24. The train hours are weeknights from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and weekends from 12 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. On Christmas Eve, the train runs from noon to 4 p.m. Each ride takes about 10 minutes from loading to unloading, making two passes around the track. Tickets are $4 charge per person, but children aged three and under ride for free.

For those who prefer to walk the gardens, there is still plenty of Christmas spirit to be found.

The holiday lights are on throughout their perennial house from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. every evening, along with colourful vignettes and character pieces to enjoy along the way.

And there are still a few chances to get out into the back fields, over the next two weekends of Family Fun Days.

Visitors can meet and learn about owls and raptors, and even take nature walks with a Great Horned Owl.

The incredible creatures from Raptors Ridge Birds of Prey will be on hand, including barn, barred, pygmy and/or great horned owls, hawks, kestrels and/or falcons too. This is a unique opportunity to see these exquisite animals up close and to learn more about them, taking place Dec. 10, 11, 17 and 18 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. This is open to the public and no registration is required.

But for those who want a little more, there will also be two youth-oriented classes (ages eight to 15), on Dec. 10 and 17 at 11 a.m. Registration is required and class size is limited to 10 students. The one-hour sessions focus on the secret lives of the owls and why they are truly amazing in flight, hearing and eyesight. Each participant will receive their own owl pellet for dissection and have a chance to meet Radar the great horned owl.

If that time doesn’t work, meet Radar and take a nature walk, Dec. 10, 11, 17 or 18. Arrive at the owl area at 1 p.m. and be led by Kim and Radar through the back fields of Minters.

Mrs. Claus will be gathering up the little ones to tell some holiday stories, at 2 p.m. on the Family Fun Days. And later each evening, she will be joined by Santa himself as they wander through the store and take photos with guests.

There will be live musical performances throughout the season, beginning with Jeff Bowman on Dec. 9 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The Good New Choir performs Dec. 16 (time TBA), Sweetwater Duo on Dec. 17, 22 and 23 at 5:30 p.m., and the Cascadia Wind Ensemble on Dec. 18 at 5:30 p.m.

They’ve also invited the one and only Grinch to the store, Dec. 21-23 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and a final visit with Santa on Dec. 22 and 23, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

All events are held at Minter Country Garden Store, 10015 Young Road.

For more details visit mintergardening.com.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vedder Park area where alcohol consumption was part of a pilot project in 2020. (City of Chilliwack)
Hundreds weighed in with opinions on alcohol consumption in Chilliwack parks

Pilot project in two Chilliwack parks last summer saw responsible drinking in designated areas

Russell Jonathon George Gurney was last seen in Chilliwack in mid-December. (RCMP photo)
RCMP ask for help to find missing Abbotsford man last seen in Chilliwack

Police and family are concerned for the well-being of Russell Jonathon George Gurney

In this photo illustration, a provincial election mail-in ballot sealed in an Elections B.C. return envelope is seen before being deposited in a Canada Post mailbox, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. For the Chilliwack school board byelection being held Feb. 13, 2020, mail ballots will now be a part of the process. (The Canadian Press/ Darryl Dyck)
Mail ballots approved for Chilliwack school board byelection

Applications to vote by mail need to be submitted to city by Jan. 28

Leonard Hodgins released his seven-song EP, A Date, with Disaster, on Jan. 4, 2021. (Submitted)
‘Silver lining’ to pandemic as Chilliwack musician finds inspiration, releases new album

Leonard Hodgins released his EP ‘A Date, with Disaster’ at the beginning of 2021

Preliminary artist rendering by Karvin Developments for three-lot subdivision on Berkeley Avenue. (City of Chilliwack/Karvin)
Subdivision proposal for three new homes on Berkeley Avenue goes through

Developer agrees to two-storey height limit on homes proposed for large lot over slough

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Ralliers gather in front of the Cityviews Village apartment building in Maple Ridge to protest attempts to evict low-income tenants by the building owner. (Ronan O’Doherty - The News)
Tenants protest pressure tactics by new landlord at Maple Ridge apartment building

Protest held in front of Cityviews Village on 223 St. Tuesday to rally against low-income evictions

Most Read