The December First Friday is generally the best attended of the year with a wide array of downtown merchants participating and lots of music, art, and community spirit.
The 2023 rendition promises to be chock-a-block with festive dining, dancing, caroling and even a traditional holiday window display unveiling.
At the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts, two exhibitions are holding their opening nights and at least 18 other special events are planned throughout downtown.
The annual Hand Made for the Holidays on the main floor of the Lawrence House features a wide variety of gifts for sale by numerous local artisans.
Upstairs in the Turret Room, a new exhibition called Stories from the Street opens on First Friday with photographs by Glenn Ogilvie and stories by journalist Cathy Dobson. The stories about local folks who know what it is to live on the streets of Sarnia were first published by The Sarnia Journal and have been adapted for gallery viewing from Dec. 1-29.
The show is intended to put a human face on a problem that is becoming increasingly serious, says Leonard Segall, chairman of The Lawrence House board of directors and spokesperson for the Stories from the Street committee.
The stories that are told cast light on why homelessness happens, what it’s like to sleep rough and the day-to-day struggle, Segall said. “Our hope is that it will spark more discussion in our community about what needs to be done."
Segall played a key role in organizing the Stories from the Street committee, connecting people he knew shared his empathy and concern for the local men and women experiencing homelessness.
Not only is Stories from the Street meant to spread awareness and seek answers, the committee distributes backpacks, tarps, sleeping bags and other necessities with any donations from concerned residents.
Like many venues on First Friday, the Lawrence House will remain open until 9 p.m.
Other events scheduled for December’s downtown cultural walkabout:
Sarnia Legion Branch 62 (286 Front St N) Live Music and Dancing with Roads Travelled 7-11p.m. All are welcome - No cover
Grind kitchen + bar (265 Front St N) Live entertainment with Seth Elvis 8-11p.m. Doors are open around back; free parking on the north ramp
Ups N' Downs (226 Front Street North)
Live Music with Jeff Black 8-11 p.m.
NUNU Concept Modern Stylish Furniture Store (210 Front Street N.) Large paintings on canvas by Peg Kivi Noon - 9 p.m.
Greens (196 Christina St. N) Live Music 6:30 p.m. with Bill Hines Artist of the month - Grant Jablecki Holiday Market in Greenspace 5-9 p.m. Local artisans & vintage fashion. Hosted by Local Relics
The ReFound Store (161 Lochiel St) 161 Lochiel Street Join us as we officially unveil our magical Winter Wonderland Window Display Shop our 50% off sale, listen to holiday tunes while enjoying holiday treats and hot chocolate. Open until 9 p.m.
Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery (147 Lochiel St)
Two Ongoing Exhibitions: Re View: Exhibition 4 A Family Palette: Frances-Anne Johnston, Franklin Arbuckle and Franz Johnston Red Dot Tours are back 7-8 p.m. for First Friday Open until 9 p.m.
nightlight Sarnia (181 Christina St. N.) nightlight Christmas Charity Auction Open at 5:30 p.m., auction at 6 p.m. Christmas baked goods, decorations & collectables Live auction with John van Klaveren
Blackwater Coffee Company (177 Christina St N) Music by Atomic Hearts 6-8 p.m. Come watch our baristas in action Latte Art ThrowDown starts at 6 p.m.
River Bank & Co. (172 Front St N) New Landscape Paintings by Jenn Bain & Pop-Up with Blue Coast Bitters 5-8:30 p.m
Coldwell Banker Southwest Realty (169 Christina St N) Winter Block Party: Shop, Drink & Be Merry 5-9 p.m. New Downtown Location
That’s What She Grows (149a Christina St N) Downtown Christmas Market 5 – 9 PM Local vendors and a free hot chocolate bar
Collide by Revelree (148 Front Street North) Karina Pakalnis Live 7-10:30 p.m. followed by DJ 11 p.m.– 2 a.m./ $5 cover after 9 p.m.
Studio 140 on the Mezzanine at the Downtown Market (140 Christina Street N.) Fine Art Exhibition at Studio 140 with Artists Present 5-9 p.m. Jennifer Hamilton, Julie Amlin, Sam Chilvers, Jessica Brown Guest pop-up vendors will also be present for the block party festivities
The Painted Cat Studio (137 Christina St. N.) Junior Art Market 5-8 p.m. Featuring young artists ages 5-18
3rd Floor, Taylor Building (162 Cromwell Street) Sips and Sales 5-9 p.m. Black Gold Brewery, Kombucha Hound, 15+ Vendors
Refined Fool (137 Davis St.) Oyster Bar & Beer Posters for Sale Fresh P.E.I. Oysters and Cocktail Specials
Sarnia Library (124 Christina St. S.) Make of the Month Wooden Spoon Snowmen First Friday 6:30-7:30 p.m.
The Lawrence House Centre for the Arts (127 Christina Street South) Exhibitions Opening 6-9 p.m. Handmade for the Holidays Members’ Exhibition Stories from the Street by Glenn Ogilvie and Cathy Dobson
Also, open later than usual for First Friday:
Harbour Bay Clothing (186 Front Street North)
Comme Moi (148 Front Street) Open until 7 p.m.
First Friday is a chance to come together as a community and support downtown businesses and cultural events. Look for First Friday flyers available free at locations throughout the downtown.