Hallmark Films Most of Its Christmas Movies In a Town of 3,400
Many of us just cannot get enough of feel-good movies this year. The Hallmark Channel is trying hard to fill that need. Every year filmmakers create bundles of new holiday movies, and this year is no different. If you look closely, you may see the same sites used from one film to another, or from one year to another.
Most Hallmark holiday movies are filmed during the summer months, and most are filmed in the Vancouver suburbs of British Columbia. Sometimes they introduce us to little-known actors, other times they feature big-name stars, such as Henry Winkler who appears in The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, filmed in 2008. Let’s look at where Winkler, and many of his fellow actors, travel to make their films.
Quaint Hallmark film sites on the outskirts of Vancouver
Hallmark Christmas movies are mostly filmed in Fort Langley, Maple Ridge, and Squamish, or a combination of the three. While Maple Ridge has a population of 82,000, Squamish has only 19,500 residents, and Fort Langley, a mere 3,400. According to The List, the demand in Maple Ridge has dictated the need for the city to have a film production liaison.
Some filming is also done in other parts of Langley Township, but truly it is Fort Langley that is at the heart of Hallmark’s holiday movies. The majority of The Most Wonderful Time of the Year was filmed there, according to IMDb.
The film, which also stars Brooke Burns and Warren Christie, tells the tale of Ralph (Winkler), who is the uncle and stand-in father of Jen Cullen (Burns), who lost her father at a young age. Ralph tries to set up his niece, who is normally no fan of the holidays, with Morgan Derby (Christie), a professional chef. Burns also stars in Hallmark’s Gourmet Detective Mystery series.
Christie appears in a new Hallmark holiday film this year with Candice Cameron, If I Only Had Christmas.
Christmas in July
Fort Langley, known for banning chain stores while featuring its own unique shops, has Christmas on display all summer long. That is when film crews converge on the town for the latest holiday filming. It is big business and infuses the town with big bucks each year.
Brunner’s Village Square, according to Chatelaine, “practically screams ‘undercover Santa,'” and has hosted 30 Hallmark movies within 15 years. The Square’s owner and landlord, Lana Brunner, said, the stores are more festive during July than in December. “There’s usually really big candy canes and lollipops,” she told Chatelaine last year. “Their decorations are above and beyond what you would even see in the malls.”
But it is not just the stores that are featured. Local heritage homeowners make a lot of money by allowing crews to film on their porches and in their living rooms.
Not everyone is cheery and bright
Fort Langley residents are not always happy about every parking space of their small town being taken, nor with street closures during filming. A decade ago, Brunner had to act as a liaison between film crews and the town’s Business Improvement Association. Productions were said to be scaled back at the time, and yet 40 new holiday movies were made in the area during 2020.
One store owner continues to turn away potential dollars offered by film location seekers, who said running into Winkler was one of the highlights of the annual convergence. But she deems the night shoot bright lights and constant traffic as major inconveniences.
Yet another store owner welcomes the filming as a positive thing. “People are tired of watching cars crash and things explode,” Shirley Rempel told Chatelaine. “A lot of people want to escape to a place where Christmas happens.”
The Hallmark Channel has been airing its light-hearted holiday movies since the end of October. It will continue to air them up through Christmas Day. Visit the Hallmark Channel schedule to see what is on now, today, and tomorrow.