Inside and out, two Saanich homes are bursting with Christmas spirit.
When Neil Salmon walks out of his giant-sized Gingerbread house on 4091 Tuxedo Drive, it’s surprising he doesn’t smell of nutmeg.
Salmon and his wife Michelle are famous in their North Quadra neighbourhood as they’ve lit the night sky with Saanich’s liveliest display of Christmas lights and ornaments for 27 years. While the house draws visitors from across the South Island, there’s also a surprising amount of people who don’t know about it, Salmon said.
“We welcome all to come, and come sooner, don’t wait until closer to Christmas,” Salmon said. “We get between 20,000 and 35,000 visitors, with bus tours and limos showing up regularly. It gets busy.”
Visitors are greeted by a 1956 GMC firetruck and enter the property through the mistletoe tunnel. There are thousands of items to behold, including a 10-foot-tall Abominable Snowman from the iconic claymation Rudolph film. There’s also a 40-foot tall Nutcracker made by a company which manufactures the sails for ocean yachts.
Meanwhile, just a five-minute drive down McKenzie Avenue is a holiday-themed home boasting an intensive level of miniature detail that takes a similar amount of effort as the Tuxedo display.
Christmasland, as creator Don Moore calls it, repurposes the ground floor of his 4000 Century Rd. home into a miniature Christmas fantasy land. There are several mini villages, each with its own theme, such as the ever-popular baseball shrine (Moore is a lifetime coach and volunteer with National Little League).
Visitors are greeted by a traditional-sized Christmas tree. Of course, it rotates, just like the miniature 14-inch tree that is now spinning in Moore’s Main Village.
“The older adults that come in always find something they love, of course people of all ages get a kick out of it,” Moore said.
A retired Canada Post employee, Moore starts the Christmasland process in September, carefully layering the rooms with wrapping paper, cotton snow and lights. Then come the hundreds of figurines, animated and inanimate.
Last year was the first time in 30 winters that Moore didn’t manufacture Christmasland, as he noted in 2014 that a break was due. Two years later, he was convinced once again by son Scott to make it happen (it was Scott’s insistence that made it happen in 2014).
Moore collects donations from visitors, with $800 raised in 2014 for local charities.
Christmasland is open Saturday, Dec. 17, 1:00-4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday Dec. 18, from 1 to 4 p.m.
It is closed Dec 24 and 25.
Visitors wishing to come after Christmas can email firstname.lastname@example.org ahead of time.