Sounds of Christmas at QB’s Milner Gardens

Few instruments capture the spirit of the season better than the harp

Patt Scrivener plays the harp at Milner Gardens on Dec. 18.

Patt Scrivener plays the harp at Milner Gardens on Dec. 18.

Only one week left to enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas at Milner Gardens and Woodland. With 50,000 light bulbs, there is plenty of sparkle and shine at one of the area’s brightest family favourite events — Milner Christmas Magic.

The 12-day festival began Dec. 2 at the stunning 70-acre estate in Qualicum Beach and the gardens have been lighting up the sky with thousands of lights that adorn the gardens and pathways ever since.  The popular holiday tradition of lights, music and magic in the gardens first started in 2003 and each year the event has grown thanks to the incredible network of community volunteers and Milner staff.

The festival of lights, music and magic is about more than just light displays.  Volunteers from the Vancouver Island Regional Library entertain children and grownups alike with their festive storytelling and of course there is really a Santa.

The Teddy Bear Cottage is also a hit for both generations with antique collectibles as well as soft and cuddly critters on display. Children are invited to guess the number of bears in the gardener’s cottage and someone will win a furry surprise. The tea room is open serving up their scrumptious scones with Devonshire cream and other freshly baked goodies. The gift shops are open for browsing and stocking up on special presents including Milner’s specialty homemade jams and jellies.

The festival wouldn’t be complete without the fabulous musicians gracing the gardens with choral and instrumental music.

This week’s entertainment includes Startlight Reverie Dec. 16, McShane Sisters Dec. 17 and 19, Patt Scrivener Dec. 18, Dave Klinger Dec. 20 and Trio Chocolat Dec. 21.

If you love the soothing sounds of the harp, you won’t want to miss Patt Scrivener’s Sunday performance.

Scrivener has been playing the harp professionally for six years now and said she will stick to a Christmas repertoire that isn’t mainstream.

“The music is less popular. There will be some German and Scandinavian tunes that people may not be familiar with,” she said.

Although Scrivener has been musically inclined since childhood, her love for the harp came later in life.

As a child she spent many hours drawing, sewing and crafting items along with studying piano.

She said the popular Canadian children’s show on the CBC, The Friendly Giant was her first introduction to harp music.

Friendly lived in a castle along with his animal puppet friends Rusty the rooster, who played a harp and lived in a book bag hung by the castle window and Jerome the giraffe.

 

“The Friendly Giant was an inspiration. I loved the draw bridge,” she admitted.

It wasn’t until much later in life that Scrivener decided to start playing the instrument.

“I was at a conference at a big hotel and a harpist was playing at Sunday brunch. It was an ethereal moment.”

Scrivener moved to Calgary from Saskatchewan and didn’t take her piano with her. She wound up moving to a neighborhood that had a harp teacher and the rest is history.

She admitted it was a bit humiliating at first to struggle with a musical instrument after being such an accomplished piano player but she persevered and eventually got the technique down.

“I had to start at the beginning and learn Twinkle Twinkle Little Star just to get my fingers to work. It was a struggle.”

She added she had to build up callouses on her fingers and to this day she must consistently play to keep her fingers supple.

“It is like going to the gym for your fingers. You have to be constantly moving them and practicing,” she said.

When Scrivener isn’t playing her harp, you can find her in her Parksville art studio where she paints almost daily, or decorating a house.

The mixed media artists and interior designer is a member of the De Cosmos Art Group, the Federation of Canadian Artists and the American Institute of Floral Designers.

She said it is challenging to do all of her creative endeavors but she is equally passionate about them all.

Scrivener will be performing at Milner Christmas Magic on Sunday, Dec. 18.

Shuttles will be available for those with mobility concerns and it’s a great idea to bring along a flashlight for extra light along pathways.

The event goes from 5 to 8:30 p.m. December 16 to 21.  Admission is by donation with all proceeds going to support the gardens.

Vancouver Island University’s Milner Gardens and Woodland is located at 2179 West Island Hwy, Qualicum Beach. For more information and a complete list of dates and performances visit www.milnergardens.org. or phone 250-752-6153.

 

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

Just Posted

A couple wants the Regional District of Nanaimo to deal with roaming cats that are causing damage to gardens and killing wildlife. (Submitted Photo)
Roaming cats pose problem for Parksville Qualicum Beach area couple

Residents upset with felines damaging gardens, want RDN to take action

Parksville Golden Oldies Sports Association’s popular walking soccer league was one of several sports programs and activities that were cancelled following provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s latest announcement to ban indoor adult team sports. (PQB News file photo)
COVID-19: Parksville Qualicum Beach sports groups frustrated by ban

Provincial health directive discourages indoor sports

371 Alberni Highway, Parksville, where the Quality Foods is currently under construction. In January 2021, 87 new affordable homes will start construction nearby. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Provincial government in support of 87 affordable housing units in Parksville

Construction at Alberni Highway address slated to start in January 2021

The Parksville Community Centre. (PQB News file photo)
City of Parksville offers update on closure of community centre

‘Increasing operating costs and annual subsidies provided by the city have been a concern’

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither are we’

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix wears a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19, during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, August 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
PHSA bought faulty ventilators; spent money on catering, renovations: Dix

Such spending included ‘unnecessary, unbudgeted renovations’ to the authority’s headquarters in Vancouver

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan releases his election platform, Vancouver, Oct. 6, 2020, featuring COVID-19 relief payments promised for most households. (B.C. NDP photo)
Next $1.5 billion in B.C. COVID-19 cash ‘prudent,’ Horgan says

New round of paymens for household incomes up to $175,000

KIJHL games have been postponed through Dec. 31. (File photo)
KIJHL postpones all games through end of 2020

Due to provincial health orders, games up to Dec. 31 have been pushed back

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Former Kelowna social worker arrested for allegedly stealing from foster kids

Robert Riley Saunders was arrested in Alberta and will be brought back to B.C. to face charges

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Lake Trail Middle School in Courtenay has closed again due to a threat Friday (Dec 4). File photo
Island middle school closed for the second time in a week due to threat

On Nov. 26, Lake Trail Middle School was closed for a day while a similar incident occurred.

Melissa David, of Parachutes for Pets and her dogs Hudson and Charlie are trying to raise money for a homeless shelter that will allow pets and are seen in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

Parachutes for Pets says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week

Most Read