kitestring’s Christmas Spectacular
Culture for Kids in the Arts
Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts 126 James Street South

It’s the most spectacular time of the year! Well, anything is bound to be spectacular when kitestring creative branding studio is involved. Chris Farias and the team are some of the most creative, fun, and positive people I’ve met in my hometown travels. Any shindig they throw is a blast!

This was the 4th annual Christmas Spectacular, a fundraiser for a fantastic cause, Culture for Kids in the Arts. It was one hot ticket – the event sold out quickly. I attended for the first time last year, and this event was even bigger and more, well, spectacular! (It’s just a fun word to say.) Plus, any chance to visit the gorgeous Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts, I have to take advantage of. I always feel super classy getting to attend an event at the venue and it was fun to get all dolled up for the night.


Like last year, the lovely gals from Sweet Ice Snow Cones were on hand to serve up their delicious, icy treats. Their festive candy cane flavour was a hit! More treats were provided by Cupcake Diner, Sophia’s Bakery, Cafe Oranje, and Gorilla Cheese. The variety of goodies looked so delicious. A Christmas tree-shaped stack of Pringles cans – how cute is that.

Many local sponsors lent their support to the cause, including Papa Leo’s, Strut Salon, the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Mixed Media, Willow Salon, the Stratford Festival, and more. To see a complete list, watch the adorable video by kitestring featuring local CKA kids singing out the 12 Sponsors of Christmas Spectacular.


This year, the event took place in the large auditorium which held even more people and gave us more room to mingle and dance. The Greasemarks were back again to bring their rockabilly swing music to the party. The fellas, Heartbreak Mark, Little Mark and Beach Party Mark, always put on such a great show. They are a really unique live act and bring a ton of energy to their shows. It’s impossible not to move when you hear them.

I even got in on the rockabilly action. Later in the night, Heartbreak Mark called me up onstage to help them out with a song. I need a little more practice before becoming one of the Greasemarks (that, and my name is not in fact Mark, but we’ll get over that technicality) but I shook the maracas with fervour. Thanks to my friend Krystal for capturing the moment!

The Greasemarks
The Greasemarks
Hilmer & Himson and The Greasemarks onstage
Hilmer & Himson and The Greasemarks onstage

Sharing the stage with the band, Jay Perry brought his photography talent to the night with the Hilmer & Himson photo booth. I love everything Jay does – he always brings such positivity to his work and it’s inspiring to see. For the past two holiday seasons, Jay’s side project Friends With Hearts has collected donations for families in need. I was happy to be part of it!

Hilmer & Himson's props
Hilmer & Himson’s props

A few friends and I got to be some of the first to test out Hilmer & Himson in preparation for its launch this fall and we couldn’t wait to hop back in the booth. It was the perfect addition to Christmas Spectacular. Everyone had fun posing with the mustaches, lips, and bowties. For some festive flair, there were even antlers and Santa hats. To see all of the snapshots, check out the official gallery and video.

With kitestring's Chris Farias
With kitestring’s Chris Farias. Photo by Hilmer and Himson.
Group shot with the girls
Group shot with the girls. Photo by Hilmer and Himson.
With Jay Perry
With Jay Perry. Photo by Hilmer and Himson.

There was also a raffle happening throughout the night with some amazing local prizes, including tickets to the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and hair cuts from local salons. The proceeds from the raffle and from the bar all went toward supporting the cause.

Partway through the event, kitestring’s gregarious team leader Chris took the stage to formally introduce the event and thank their local sponsors. Chris then invited Frank Helt, a representative from The Mischa Weisz Foundation, onstage. In a moving moment, Frank gave a speech and generously donated $25,000 to CKA. Incredible!

Chris Farias receiving the cheque from Frank Helt
Chris Farias receiving the cheque from Frank Helt

Christmas Spectacular raised a total of over $33,000 for CKA, and that will provide 1650 months of after school arts programming for local kids. What an amazing thing to be part of!

Local photographer Marta Hewson was also onhand to capture the event. Check out her snapshots in kitestring’s album.

Once again, I had a fabulously festive time and look forward to future kitestring events. Happy Holidays!

– Kristin

Kristin Archer is the creator of I Heart Hamilton (, where she has blogged about experiences around her hometown since 2011, growing a social media presence along the way. Encouraging locals to “be a tourist in your own city,” she promotes arts and culture across her various social media platforms, blog, and weekly radio show on 93.3 CFMU.


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