The fields in Sumas Prairie are budding with rows of vibrant, green hops to accommodate an exploding craft beer industry.
Fresh-pressed apple cider, harvested hops, and crisp breezes are all signs that fall harvest has arrived in Abbotsford.
This fun filled itinerary is loaded with family friendly experiences that will have your children sharing memories for years to come.
It matters because it contributes to world citizenship by breaking down barriers, facilitating relationships, fostering connections and the sharing of cultures, and encouraging ambassadorship as people develop a sense of pride within their own communities.
From May 28 to June 3rd, Abbotsford is joining dozens of communities across British Columbia in recognition of National Tourism Week – a grassroots initiative aligning tourism organizations, businesses, and other partners around the common vision of supporting a tourism sector unencumbered by government policies and recognized for its robust contribution to the economy.
On a provincial level, BC’s tourism industry sees approximately 20M visitors each year year, contributing almost $16 billion in revenue to the economy. Locally, Abbotsford’s visitor economy experienced the third year in a row of record growth. Last year alone, the number of overnight visitors, staying in paid accommodations, increased by 7%, generating revenue that was 17% higher. Abbotsford benefitted from an estimated $32-$34M of economic activity.
To celebrate National Tourism Week, Tourism Abbotsford has created a video featuring five people who are immersed in the tourism world and can speak to the cultural value that tourism brings. The emerging themes were internal tourism (pride of community), recognizing our similarities (what we have in common is more prominent than our differences), and expanding our worldview as we engage with others and learn from one another.
“We see an internal tourism where people are proud of Abbotsford and we feel that tourism is how we broaden our sense of the world. Tourism enables us to reflect on commonalities that we have with other groups and we believe it helps to break down prejudices,” says Alyssa Short, Guest Services Manager at Highstreet Shopping Centre.
“Tourism acts as a leveler, highlighting our similarities, and encourages us to cross borders and become brand ambassadors,” states Judy Campbell, Co-owner and Production Manager at Campbell’s Gold Honey Farm and Meadery.
“Tourists come to meet a new ‘people’ but realize that we have more in common that not,” says Chris Buis, Co-owner of Brookside Inn Boutique Hotel.
“As we host tourists in our community, we see Abbotsford for the first time through their eyes. It opens the door to diversity, from food to entertainment to landscape, and gives us the power to tell our story to the world—one of community, culture, family, and partnerships,” states Barb Roberts, Special Events and Film Coordinator for the City of Abbotsford.
“Appreciating the beauty of tulips isn’t something that just a certain race or gender can appreciate. I’ll see all ethnicities, age groups, and demographics coming out,” says Alexis Warmerdam, Founder of Bloom, The Abbotsford Tulip Festival.
Tourism is a powerful force that not only outpaces outpacing the overall economy, it enhances the amazing lifestyle we enjoy from recreational activity, resorts & restaurants, and wineries & breweries to museums & festivals and experiential adventures. It teaches us to embrace diversity, broaden our perspectives, and celebrate human connection.
From May 28 to June 3, share your favourite experiences with #TourismWeek #BCTourismMatters
One of the most beautiful aspects of living in Abbotsford is how our community believes in collaboration over competition. Our Circle Farm Tour partners and local businesses understand that by working together, they better serve our destination and, happily, refer visitors to one another. Abbotsford attracts people due its beautiful farmlands and adventurous, mountain vistas, but also because of the people. The small-town heart remains intact despite the city-vibe that is growing—a rare and inspiring combination.
Organized by Summer Dhillon of Slap Communications, on May 17th Tourism Abbotsford sponsored a spring-themed farm-to-table longtable dinner, and media and influencers were invited to ‘eat, play, and love’ in our backyard. They started at in Historic Downtown Abbotsford at Spruce Market where Confetti Floral Design and Spruce led the group through a planting workshop.
Next, was an agricultural celebration at Maan Farms’ new rustic, luxury venue where Spruce Collective and Confetti Floral Design graced the tables with vintage finds and gorgeous, seasonal florals. Valley Weddings added décor throughout the barn, followed by candlelit corners. Circle Farm Tour partners Taves Family Farms, Mt Lehman Cheese Co, Campbell's Gold Honey Farm & Meadery, and Central Park Farms donated their locally grown and produced foods to Restaurant 62, as Chef Jeff Massey prepared a culinary farm to table feast.
Guitar strums from the talented Ryan McAllister set the mood as we all sipped and savoured wine from Seaside Pearl Farmgate Winery and Maan Farms Country Experience & Estate Winery. True to our country nature, the evening ended with marshmallow roasting and cuddling baby goats.
With the goal of sharing our community’s gifts, everyone came together to honour our community, farmland, and entrepreneurial passion. The result was pure magic.
(Let the dinner begin!)
(Judy Campbell from Campbell's Gold and Honey Farm & Meadery.)
(True Grit lettuces with goat cheese, radishes, pickled rhubarb, candied walnuts, rhubarb vinaigrette. Goat cheese provided by Mt. Lehman Cheese Co.)
(Amir Maan from Maan Farms Country Experience & Estate Winery.)
(Whole roasted galantine of chicken, wilted greens, salsa verde. Chicken by Central Park Farms.)
(Lorne Taves from Taves Family Farms)
(Charred eggplant purée, roasted peppers, and new potatoes. Eggplant and peppers by Taves Family Farms.)
(The outdoor area at Maan Farms is perfect for mingling!)
(Someone let the goats out...)
(Who doesn't love a marshmallow bar?!)
Photography by: Brooklyn D. Photography
Abbotsford’s natural location nestled between prairies and mountains boasts many interesting walks and hikes for all experience levels. Urban parks and forests are well-maintained and offer easy access for afternoon strolls and picnic lunches. Sumas Mountain presents more challenging terrain for adventure seekers and experienced hikers.
Also known as Lost Lake, this local favourite is popular for fishing, swimming, and picnicking. The 4.6 kilometre return trip offers several trail options plus a second hike from the lake. This high-elevation experience is for intermediate hikers who don’t mind scrambling up slippery inclines and log steps.
Address: Upper Sumas Mt. Road, Sumas Mountain
What’s nearby: Eastern Valley Lookout Trail, Sumas Mountain Regional Park
What to pack: Hiking boots, layers, snacks, water, bear spray, bug spray, picnic lunch
Connecting east and west Abbotsford, this extensive trail system (the west section is 32 kilometres and the east section is 30 kilometres) is great for walking, jogging, cycling, and rollerblading. Winding through natural habitats like forests and ponds, the paved interpretive trails allow for exercise, learning, and observing.
Address: The Discovery Trail crosses the city and has many entry/exit points. Download the trail map and plan your journey ahead of time
What to pack: Comfortable shoes, picnic lunch, snacks, water, camera
Dogs: Some off-leash areas
Escape the city without leaving it at Fishtrap Creek Park. Developed around Abbotsford’s storm-water system, enjoy the 3.5 kilometre forested hike winding past wetlands and marshes. The paved trails, benches, gazebos, and picnic tables allow people of all ages to enjoy the local flora and fauna and make pit stops along the way. While it’s possible to see backyards and houses in some parts, most of this urban park is well-treed and offers the tranquil sounds of birds singing and frogs croaking.
Address: 31580 Maclure Road, V2T 4K9
Nearby: Ellwood Softball Park, Abbotsford Judo Club, Discovery Trail
What to pack: Comfortable shoes, camera, picnic lunch
Dogs: Some off-leash areas
Enjoy a leisurely six kilometre walk along the Fraser River on the well-groomed trails at Matsqui Trail Regional Park. This flat and low-level hike gives visitors views of riverbanks overlooking Mission, tranquil farmland, and the surrounding Cascade mountains. An inviting picnic area is adjacent to the parking lot.
Address: Trans Canada Trail, Near Fraser River, V3G 1N2
Nearby: Warkentin Organic Farm, Howard Wong Farms, Matsqui Cafe, Lepp Farm Market
What to pack: Comfortable shoes, water, snacks, sunscreen, camera, picnic lunch
Willband Creek Park
Perfect for birders, this flat 2.6 kilometre looped trail begins from the parking lot and circles two retention ponds. Features include beautiful prairie views with mountain ranges in back, urban wetlands (139 different bird species have been seen at this site), parking lot, and picnic area. One part of the trail parallels Highway 11 so expect some noise from fast-moving traffic.
Address: 34350 Bateman Road, V2S 8E9
Nearby: Westberry Farms, Clayburn Village, Lepp Farm Market
What to pack: Comfortable shoes, binoculars, camera, picnic lunch
Located in central Abbotsford, there’s something for everyone at Mill Lake. Enjoy the flat, paved 2.3 kilometre trail circling the lake at your own pace, taking in the variety of waterfowl and migratory birds and spectacular view of Mt. Baker. Pack a lunch and enjoy a spot by the spray park, playground, or in one of the many quiet picnic areas.
Address: 2310 Emerson Street, Mill Lake, V2T 3N8
Nearby: Kariton Art Gallery, Trethewey House Heritage Site Museum, Sevenoaks Shopping Centre
What to pack: Comfortable shoes, swimming suits for children, picnic lunch, sunscreen
From May 5 to 7th, Abbotsford welcomes Jane’s Walks-- multiple walking tours centred around the arts, food and culture, and architecture and neighbourhood change.
Inspired by a woman named Jane Jacobs, Jane’s Walks are designed to celebrate evolving neighbourhoods while engaging in discussion about community-based city building.
A little about Jane…Jane was not a trained city planner, but she was a concerned citizen who spent time observing city life. She formulated theories about what makes a city an amazing place to live, believed in walkable neighbourhoods and urban literacy, and championed the voices of local residents.
After passing away in 2006, a group of her friends decided to honour her by continuing her legacy and founding Jane’s Walk. Jane’s book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, positions her passion best with this impactful statement.
“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”
Free of charge, Tourism Abbotsford encourages everyone to join one of these inspirational walks, to explore new backyards, and meet some friendly faces. Better yet, to get involved and lead a new walk! Last year, over 1,000 walks took place in 212 cities, 36 countries, and 6 continents.
May 5: Sketching Walk
The Sketching Walk will be led by Pat Maertz who is passionate about the arts, a member of local arts organizations and clubs, and leads a Saturday morning urban sketching group.
Time: 11:30 am to 12:30 pm
This easy, short walk (less than .5 km) is comprised of three to four locations (Trethewey House followed by Lakeside View, Kariton Art Gallery, and the Floating Boardwalk). Basic sketching material is provided, or participants may bring their own. Locations will be adapted according to the weather, and appropriate attire is recommended.
May 6: Food and Culture Walk
The Food and Culture Walk is led by UFV student, Sarah Speight.
Time: 1:30 am to 2:30 am
Designed to answer the questions, “How does local culture influence the food produced by international restaurants? And “How do international foods and culture influence the local foods that we produce?” It starts at Happy Hour Bubble Tea followed by a walk around Historic Downtown.
May 7: Mid Century Modern and Changing Times
The Mid Century Modern and Changing Times Walk is led by urban historian, Marianne Fedori, and, homeowners, Aline Auger and Nova and Devin Hopkins.
Time: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm.
This is an informal walk designed to explore mid-century architecture, residential patterns, and neighbourhood change. Participants will discover some of Abbotsford's 1950s and 1960s’ cutting-edge residences, learn how new infill developments are leading to change, and how Abbotsford might best address the needs of increased density while preserving the context of an established neighbourhood. Photo Credit: Jane's Walk Abbotsford.
To kick-off Jane's Walk, there is a launch celebration planned for May 5th, from 11:00am – 1:00pm at Mill Lake Park.
To keep up to date on upcoming walks in your neighbourhood, follow Janes Walk at @janeswalkabby and tag your photos with #JanesWalkAbby.
The birds are chirpin’, the tulips are bloomin’, and Abbotsford is filled with all those smells, tastes, and sounds of the season. Tick the best of Spring off your Abbotsford Bucket List! Share your adventures along the way with #AbbyBucketList.
Photo Credit: Bloom, The Abbotsford Tulip Festival
Stock up on British candy at the Clayburn Village Store.
Grab a flight of beer at Field House Brewing Co.
Photo Credit: Luke Liable
Take a walk around Mill Lake Park.
Photo Credit: Mona Lucas Photography
Try running for a cause in the Run for Water.
Taste a variety of local wines or have a picnic at SingleTree Winery.
Make a new friend at the Eco Dairy.
Get a team together for the Abbotsford Foam Festival.
Learn something new with a cooking class at Lepp Farm Market.
Pick up your Fraser Valley Experiences guide!
More from the Abby Blog:
The renowned TED speaker, Sir Ken Robinson, was in Abbotsford a few weeks ago for the Learning Revolution event, hosted by Abbotsford Christian School. Videos of his famous talks to the prestigious TED Conference are the most viewed in the history of the organization, and have been seen by an estimated 350 million people in over 160 countries.
As Sir Ken presented his topic ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity?’, the audience was struck with an analogy he used to emphasize how our educational system is, artificially, producing output. With Abbotsford situated in one of the country’s most intensely farmed areas, this is an analogy that our community can relate to. Specifically, the move towards farmers embracing more natural practices. In the 1850s, Sir Ken spoke of the need to produce more food for the world’s rapidly increasing population, and some of the unintended circumstances the developing world experienced because of this push.
During the Industrial Revolution, the world witnessed another revolution only it was in farming, which was made possible by mechanization and the invention of chemical fertilizer. Essentially, we grew larger crops in less time. The downfall was the loss of natural protection, so we decided to apply chemical pesticides to prevent crop attacks. And, it worked for some time until we realized that we were destroying the planet, evident by soil erosion and chemical run-off. In fact, we changed the genetic make-up of some of our creatures. With the objective of maximizing output and yield, mankind used a chemical, mechanized approach to a natural, organic process. We are still facing the consequences, of this short-sighted approach, today.
The movement of returning to more sustainable farming methods has farmers focusing on the soil as opposed to the crop itself. These farmers recognize that enriched soil creates healthy crops in the short and long term...that the methodology is sustainable.
Applying this analogy to our education system, similarly, we have, artificially, enhanced ‘growth and output’ in our schools by grouping children by age or gender. Further, we segment our students by isolating children of certain talents or, the opposite, where we remove children that don’t fit the traditional mold. We pathologized a lack of interest in certain disciplines and continue to suggest medicating children so that they can cope with being different. A perfect example is the rise of ADD and ADHD diagnoses.
Just as organic farmers also realize the gifts of respecting the land, in which the crops grow, and allowing for a natural crop to yield a nutrient-rich harvest, great teachers take a holistic approach, focus on the culture of the classroom and recognize that a positive environment is conducive to natural development. These forward-thinking teachers connect their students to the external environment using tactics that allow them to interact and respond in a manner that plays to their natural talents and understand the world within them.
Sir Ken challenged his audience as he asked, “Why don't we get the best out of people?” His answer was that it's because we educate people out of their creativity as we're told to become good workers as opposed to creative thinkers. Students with ‘restless’ minds are ignored or even stigmatized.
Civilization is a race between education and catastrophe. It’s a race we can win if we treat our children differently and value their talents. Schools all over the world are fighting the headwind of conformity with innovation. A vocational school in Cambodia is developing patents and is giving support to turn them into businesses to combat regional poverty. Oklahoma wants to become the state of creativity. Grace Living Centre created a classroom in the foyer of the retirement home and a Book Buddies Program where seniors were reading to kids. The result? Connecting the generations had the residents taking less depression medication and living longer, and the children were advancing more quickly than their peers.
A school in our own backyard has joined this movement. Abbotsford Christian School is re-thinking talent and ability by: re-imagining education, scaling innovation, and revolutionizing its approach to education.
This is another example of the innovation Abbotsford has always been known for whether it’s agriculture, food-processing, education, aerospace, or character development through initiatives, such as Character Abbotsford. Our ‘soil’, made up of forward-thinking people, businesses, and institutions, has repeatedly been recognized on the national and international stage for significant achievements. A community that nurtures the uniqueness of each child’s inherent gifts, creates a cultural fabric that is rich in creativity, transforming into a society where, as adults, they continue to innovate.