Candy Lane going car free on opening day, in partnership with Paths for People

Candy Cane Lane

Preview by Kyle Monda

There is no better way to spend a December night than taking in twinkling Christmas lights with friends or family while sipping on a cup of hot cocoa. With all the houses decorated and displays lovingly assembled by the residents, Candy Cane Lane could warm even the coldest of hearts.

This charming experience is one of Edmonton’s most iconic events, now in its 51st year. Organized by volunteers living in the Crestwood neighbourhood, Candy Cane lane is an annual Christmas lights festival that continues to grow. Now featuring sleigh rides along with the impressive light displays, it has long delighted visitors of all ages.

This year, for the first time ever, Candy Cane Lane will be going car-free in partnership with Paths for People. On the opening evening of the event, December 12th, 148th Street will be closed to car traffic from 100th Avenue to 92nd Avenue, inviting people to enjoy the whole street by foot, bike, cross-country ski, or any other way they roll.

With room to roam outside the sidewalk, there will be warming stations, hot chocolate, food trucks, and other pedestrian-friendly activities. The regular Candy Cane Lane experience with cars will resume the following night from December 13th until January 1st.

I spoke to Sarah Hoyles, Executive Director of Paths for People, to get all the details on this special event. Paths for People is a non-profit organization working to make Edmonton more walkable and bike-friendly. Candy Cane Lane reached out to Paths for People to help out after their event Open Streets, last August.

For Open Streets, a section of Jasper Avenue downtown was closed to car traffic. The event “was a chance to re-imagine the street and what it means for people and how people could engage with it.” It was a huge success, with over 10,000 attendees, and Hoyles says the car-free format will be a great new way to experience Candy Cane Lane. “Because of its popularity, it’s usually wall to wall, bumper to bumper cars. And so it’s not necessarily the most inviting pedestrian experience.”

Candy Cane Lane

She doesn’t expect the cold weather will be a deterrent for people wanting to join in the festivities this December. “We are a winter city, so that doesn’t faze us. We believe that winter cycling and walking in the winter is very feasible and we encourage it. It’s not something otherworldly or unimaginable. We want to invite people in and give people opportunities and excuses to get outside.”

More than 50 volunteers will be helping make the event possible. The Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues will be sponsoring indigenous programming along the route, and students from Jasper Place High School will be singing carols too. Hoyles hopes the event will become an annual tradition, because “there seems to be an appetite for it!”

Visitors are encouraged to walk, bike, or take transit to the event, as parking in the neighbourhood surrounding Candy Cane Lane is limited. The street will be closed to traffic from 6pm to 9pm.

The neighbourhood is easily accessible from the #2 bus route, between Corona LRT Station and West Edmonton Mall Transit Centre. There will also be a special park-and-ride shuttle running from the Edmonton Valley Zoo parking lot.

Admission is free, but visitors are encouraged to bring donations for Edmonton’s food bank. Sleigh rides must be booked in advance on the Candy Cane Lane website, and cost $17 per person plus a service charge. Don’t miss this chance to experience Candy Cane Lane like it’s never been seen before!

Candy Cane Lane
Location: 148th street from 100th to 92nd avenue
Opens: Thursday, December 12 (Car free night)
Runs to: Wednesday, January 1
Lights on: 6pm to 10pm nightly
Candy Cane Lane website