Nelson, B.C. and the nearby village of Kaslo know how to make the most of the shoulder-season weeks before the snow piles up, the lifts start running, and there’s enough coverage in the backcountry. While the Kootenay Winter Kickoff festivities begin as early as Nov. 21 with the Banff Mountain Film Festival tour arriving in Nelson, the big draw this year is a weekend of events that get rolling with a Winter Kickoff Carnival downtown Nelson on Friday, Nov. 29. Walk through an illuminated archway and into a winter wonderland of music, interactive art, performances, food, kids’ activities and more. 

Holiday kid’s activities abound in Nelson // Photo courtesy of Shallan Knowles

Head north an hour on Saturday for Light Up Kaslo for a parade, Christmas Faire, bonfire, music, and visit by Santa. Last year there was a cool kids’ scavenger hunt that involved many of the businesses around historic downtown Kaslo as well as other kids’ activities. The 32nd annual pantomime at Nelson’s Capital Theatre, Archie in Nelsondale, also promises to be an entertaining and family-friendly live theater experience, with performances happening Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights during the Winter Kickoff Carnival.

Enjoy a soak in Ainsworth Hot Springs // Photo by Shallan Knowles

Finally, a trip to Nelson and Kaslo wouldn’t be complete without a soak in the mineral-rich waters at Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort. Don’t forget your hiking boots for a walk on one of the trails around Nelson and Kaslo too. There are plenty of diverse lodging options in this corner of the Kootenays, but consider a central downtown option, like the historic Hume Hotel in Nelson, so that you can get around easily on foot or bike. Winterkickoff.com