An article about Bowen Island Tours by Kendall Walters for West Vancouver Living Magazine, December 2014
Reprinted here with permission from the publisher. All photos by Kendall Walters.
Christmas is about joy, goodwill and holiday cheer. Christmas shopping, on the other hand, tends to be about the stressful, frantic chaos of fighting crowds of other holiday shoppers.
But it doesn’t have to be. This holiday, make your shopping trip an experience you’ll enjoy with a day on Bowen Island. Bowen Island Tours, a new company started by resident Jody Lorenz, runs a culture tour aimed at making visitors feel like island insiders.
“Bowen is part of the city… but when you come here you feel you’ve gone away,” says Lorenz. “It’s like stepping back in time.”
On Bowen, the first weekend in December is a veritable Christmas-palooza that Lorenz wants visitors to experience alongside locals. It begins on Sat., Dec. 6 with Light Up Bowen, a Christmas Light festival where lantern-wielding attendees wend their way down from Artisan Square to Village Square and finally Snug Cove, Christmas lights turning on in their wake. The evening is full of hot chocolate and mulled wine, festive decorations and a live nativity. Santa arrives by water taxi for a real coastal Christmas treat.
On Sunday, islanders flock to the Community School Association’s Christmas Craft Fair. Boasting more than 50 tables, the fair features professional artisans alongside crafting hobbyists. Sarah Haxby, Bowen Island Community School Coordinator, helps put the craft fair together each year. “We’re an eclectic community [so] it’s a real mix of stuff,” she says. “It’s not big and glossy. It’s what we make together as a community.”
The fair runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Dec. 7.
In order to make the whole schedule of events more accessible to visitors, Lorenz created a special Christmas edition of her culture tour to coincide with the craft fair. Her culture tour introduces visitors to Bowen Island artists, artisans and craftspeople, giving them to chance to learn about the people behind the beautiful handmade items.
“It’s a great place to get away from all the frantic frenzy of shopping that happens pre-Christmas,” says Lorenz.
The majority of the tour focuses on Artisan Square – a gallery, studio and shop community a short walk from where the ferry docks in Snug Cove. It’s the perfect chance to find a unique gift for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list.
Notable tour stops include:
Artigiani Milanesi Cashmere Tailors – Originally started in Milan, Italy in 1959, this company is a recent transplant to Bowen Island. Visitors can watch owner Davide Bizzarri, wife Rebecca Gibbs and mother Rosetta Feroldi, craft heavenly soft sweaters, scarves and other items by hand. They’ll also have the opportunity to purchase items at 50 per cent off the regular retail price – but only at the family’s studio.
Cloudflower Clayworks – Visitors can see potter Jeanne Sarich at work while they pick up ceramic mugs perfect for hot cocoa or handmade Christmas ornaments shaped like reindeer, Christmas trees and snowflakes.
GILT Studio Gallery – Gilding artisan David Graff works with gold, silver and copper leaf to create one-of-a-kind vases, paintings and other works. His futuristic-looking pieces have appeared in a number of popular movies, such as iRobot.
Cocoa West Chocolatier – Run by the husband-wife team of Carlos Vela-Martinez and Joanne Mogridge, Cocoa West serves up delectable chocolate treats made right on Bowen Island.
The Special Craft Fair & Christmas Shopping Tour on Dec. 7 is $65 for adults, $55 for seniors. It meets at Horseshoe Bay and includes all transportation costs. In addition to the Craft Fair and Artisan Square, the tour also takes visitors to Opa and Killarney Lake. The all-day excursion includes time for a lunch break.
The regularly-scheduled Bowen Island Arts & Shops Christmas Tour is $32 for adults, $25 for seniors. It includes transportation from Snug Cove, a chocolate from Cocoa West Chocolatier and time for lunch.
To learn more, or to book your Bowen Island tour, explore the different Tours offered here at www.bowenislandtours.com.