Barrie lights up for the season with Ontario’s largest indoor Christmas festival at Bradford Greenhouse Garden Galleries. It is the first time Christmas Glow, a huge indoor-light festival, has been held in Ontario.

“It’s very much a family-friendly holiday event, the thing to do when you’re looking for something fun and to make some lasting Christmas memories,” said Tamara Jansen, former owner of the family business.  “It’s really magical.”

The 125,000 square-foot exhibit features close to one-million lights, gardens, sculptures, a magic castle playground, LED swings and hopscotch, interactive activities, live entertainment and photos with Santa. There will also be a Christmas Market featuring gifts and decorations from local businesses and artists, food and beverage stands.

Jansen’s daughter, Breanne, designed this year’s show. The theme, Glow Around the World, invites everyone to follow Santa’s delivery path along illuminated trails to various countries around the globe.

“This year the theme follows Santa from country to country,” said Jansen. “All the kids will get a passport and then they look for the passport office and get it stamped. It’s just going to be really cool.”

The festival is modeled after the large displays the Jansen family is accustomed to creating for commercial-grower industry shows to showcase their products. As the displays are rarely seen by the public, the family wanted to recreate the experience for their community in British Columbia.

“We really wanted to reach out into our community and offer family-friendly events that are centered around the ability for families to have a great time,” said Jansen. “As a farmer, you’re part of the community and you like to be involved in the community at Christmas.”

The first Christmas Glow event was held last year in Langley, BC. and it sold out. This year the festival has expanded across Canada to two new communities – Edmonton and Barrie. In Langley, they added a new Harvest Glow festival.  Themes change every year.

Peter Jansen started Darvonda Nurseries in 1975 with a 10,000 square-foot glass greenhouse in Langley, producing tropical indoor potted plants, including different sizes of poinsettia, which they still do today. The greenhouse facilities have since grown to include seven different locations.

Byron Jansen, Tamara’s husband, took over in 1987, focusing on indoor flowering plant production. The couple took control of the company when Peter retired, in 1991. Today, Tamara and Byron’s son, Lawrence runs the company.

Christmas Glow will be on display until Jan. 6. Visit glowgardens.com for tickets.

Photo: Visit Ontario’s largest indoor family Christmas festival, Christmas Glow Barrie, at Bradford Greenhouses Garden Galleries Nov. 22 to Jan. 6