Airdrie Festival of Lights wins Best Community Attraction award
The Airdrie Festival of Lights (AFOL) beat out community events from across the province in 2020 to win 'Best Community Attraction' in this year’s Alberta Business Awards of Distinction.
Michelle Pirzek, executive coordinator of AFOL, said the board was shocked and surprised at their victory, calling the win “unexpected.” She emphasized all of the work that goes into planning and executing an event of AFOL’s scale and duration.
She said for last year’s event, the total execution of the festival wouldn’t have been possible without the 300-plus volunteers who put in over 2,700 hours of hard work.
“This is a team win,” she said.
The Airdrie Chamber of Commerce nominated AFOL for the contest, which recognizes businesses and organizations that “have demonstrated outstanding achievement and contribution to their community, while having developed business acumen and management practices to ensure long-term sustainability.”
Planning a large-scale event in 2020 was filled with uncertainty and caution, Pirzek said, noting the team’s word of the year was ‘pivot.’ She said the event's organizers had in place several contingency plans to ensure the festival could still go on safely amid COVID-19 restrictions.
One of Airdrie's longest standing holiday traditions, AFOL is an annual event held in Nose Creek Regional Park – an outdoor walk-through light experience each night during the month of December. AFOL is a fan-favourite of the holiday season and attracts visitors from across south-central Alberta.
The event also features miniature train rides to tour the light displays, bonfires to sit by and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate or apple cider and Santa’s Gift Shop. Younger attendees can purchase budget-friendly Christmas gifts for the grown-ups in their lives, with the help of volunteer elves.
Last December was the 25th anniversary of the event, but like most public events in the world, AFOL was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Pirzek said even though the 2021 celebration will be for “25 plus one,” the board is in the process of organizing a festival that will go all out in recognizing AFOL's achievements of the last quarter-century.
In recognizing all of the businesses that were nominated for the Alberta Business Awards of Distinction during a year full of turbulence, Pirzek said that “everyone is a winner.”