As the 25th of December edges closer, the festive season gets into full swing, bringing with it the pressure to get all your holiday shopping done!
Fortunately, there are plenty of Christmas markets in Canada that will take the stress out of holiday shopping and fill you with Christmas cheer.
If you love Christmas markets, then you’re in the right place. Read our guide to the best markets you can visit on your next family holiday to Canada and how to drive there.
Banff Christmas Market
Located in Canada’s first national park, the Banff Christmas Market is truly a one of a kind.
The rustic venue is surrounded by beauty and nature and has over 50 vendors in attendance. From Nova Scotia’s reclaimed boat wood, Inuit carvers and local artisans to jewellers, home decor and clothing retailers, your choice for gifts is endless.
Say hello to Santa, go on a sleigh ride, or enjoy BBQ food and homemade chocolate. There are so many activities you need to try at this popular market.
This Christmas market is typical of those that you may find in Europe, boasting artisanal products that make the perfect gifts for this festive season. Whether you choose to lounge by the fire in the Outdoor Lounge Bar or enjoy the family-friendly entertainment, this is a market not to be missed on your Canada tour this Christmas.
Opening dates: 15th-17th November and 22nd- 24th November
Directions from Downtown Banff:
– From Downtown Banff, head south on Banff Avenue and cross the Bow River
– After crossing the bridge, take the first right onto Cave Avenue
– Turn right onto Sundance Road towards Warner Stables
– The Banff Christmas Market is located at the bottom of Sundance Road
Calgary Expo Holiday Market
Local retailers, artists, makers and creators come together for this Christmas event. The BMO Centre will be transformed into a Christmas wonderland, where you can shop ‘til you drop with their range of toys, collectables and memorabilia.
As you wander amongst the stalls picking up presents to put beneath the tree, you can watch comic book artists sketching away, costumed characters ready for photo opportunities and visit Santa to share your Christmas wishes.
The Calgary Expo Holiday Market is great if you’re looking for a place with everything under one roof. Tickets cost $10 CAD and can be purchased from their website.
Opening dates: 30th November
Directions from Downtown Calgary:
– Head west on 6 Ave SE W and take the left at the first cross street onto 1 Street SE S
– Use the left two lanes to turn left at the first cross street onto 1 St SE S
– Turn left onto 12 Ave SE
– Turn right towards 13 Ave SE
– Turn left onto 13 Ave SE
– Turn right into the BMO Centre
Christkindl Market of Kitchener – Canada’s original festival of German Christmas – is back for its 23rd year.
Since 1996, Kitchener City Hall has transformed into an old-style festival each Christmas. The market recreates all the sights, sounds, smells and spirit of the traditional festivals found throughout Germany.
Head down on the 5th of December for the opening ceremony; join in a sing-along and watch the donkey procession through the streets before the tree is lit.
The famous Christmas market is visited by more than 35,000 visitors every year selling a range of items such as toys, artisan crafts and jewellery. With an emphasis on Old World German themes and flavours, this is the perfect event if you’re looking to get in the Christmas spirit.
If you decide to book cheap flights to Canada and visit, you can expect to see over 30 performances by choirs, bands and dance groups. The free-to-attend market also boasts a model railway display, a live nativity and blacksmith demonstrations on the square.
Opening dates: 5th-8th December
Directions from Toronto to Kitchener:
– Get on Gardiner Expressway W from Bay Street
– Take exit 139 for ON-427/Brown’s Line/Sherway Gardens Road towards Ontario 401 and continue onto ON-427 N
– Follow the signs for Ontario 401 W and merge onto ON-401 W and then take exit 278 for ON-8 towards Kitchener/Waterloo
– The next step is to take the turning for Weber Street E/Waterloo Regional Road 8 to College Street and follow signs for King Street/Downtown
– Turn right onto Montgomery Road and after two miles turn left onto Weber Street E/Waterloo Regional Road 8
– Then turn left onto College Street and the Christmas market will be in sight
Christmas markets in Canada are famed for their crafts—and Got Craft is one market that showcases this in abundance.
Got Craft was established in 2007 with the market getting bigger and better every year. It features 105 local makers, do-it-yourself workshops and food carts. Plus, if you’re one of the first 50 people, you’ll go home with a free swag bag filled with items from the vendors.
The market costs just $5 CAD to enter and is being held at the Pipe Shop Building, which is conveniently located across from the Seabus terminal, perfect if you’re arranging car hire in Vancouver.
Opening dates:7th-8th December
Directions from Downtown Vancouver:
– Head north-east on Seymour Street/BC-99 towards Dunsmuir Street/BC-1A/BC-99A N
– Follow BC-1A to Marine Drive in West Vancouver and take the exit from BC-1A
– Continue on Marine Drive and continue onto Victory Ship Way in North Vancouver.
Montréal Christmas Village
Over 50 chalets line the streets at the Montréal Christmas Village. Listen to the choir sing your favourite Christmas hymns as you tuck into a sugary treat from one of the many food vendors.
The Christmas Village is now in its fourth year, with more attractions and vendors to see every Christmas. The market is wheelchair and pushchair-accessible so is great fun for all the family
Opening dates: 29th November-22nd December
Directions from Downtown Montréal:
– Head south-east on Avenue Union towards Rue Cathcart
– Turn left at the first cross street onto Rue Cathcart
– Turn right at the first cross street onto Place du Frere Andre/Place Phillips
– Continue onto Côte du Beaver Hall
– Turn right onto Rue de la Gauchetière O
– Turn left at the first cross street onto Boulevard Robert-Bourassa
– Turn right onto Rue Saint-Antoine O (signs for Autoroute 720 O)
– Turn left onto Avenue Atwater
– Keep left to stay on Avenue Atwater
– Turn right onto Rue Sainte-Émilie
Québec City’s German Christmas Market
Québec City’s German Christmas Market is a European wonderland nestled right in the heart of Québec City.
The market has a festive atmosphere and its wooden stalls and bright Christmas lights make it an amazing multi-sensory experience that you really don’t want to miss. Plus, with plenty of gift ideas and free shows, it makes a wonderful evening activity in the run-up to Christmas.
Get ready to be enchanted and taste some delicious foods. On the menu is a selection of German treats like mulled wine, bratwurst and gingerbread.
There are lots of beautiful decorations you can buy and other Christmas gifts. But if its entertainment you’re after, then the carol singing, and other performances will charm you.
Opening dates: 22nd November-23rd December
Directions from the centre of Quebec City:
– From the centre of Quebec City you will need to head west towards Rue Pierre Olivier Chauveau
– Then you need to take Boulevard René-Lévesque E and Ch Ste-Foy to Avenue Désy
– Continue onto Avenue Désy and then take a left onto Rue Jeanne d’Arc
Toronto Christmas market
The Toronto Christmas Market, which is held in the historic Distillery District, offers all the charm you will find in a European Christmas market with a few Canadian twists.
Bavarian brass bands and folk dancers from the likes of Slovenia and Ukraine perform alongside stalls selling traditional Canadian gifts such as beeswax candles. However, at the Toronto Christmas Market, you can also find stalls providing stocking fillers, art glass and Eastern European gifts to take home with you.
Join a distillery walking tour, head into Santa’s house or grab a great cup of coffee from the Nespresso Nordic Garden Boutique to give you a much-needed caffeine boost whilst browsing the stalls.
If you want to come back from your Canadian holiday or break with a souvenir, there are plenty of options, from decorations and home décor to make-up and clothing. Plus, the beer gardens serve up Christmas cocktails and hot rum and are a great place to relax after shopping.
Opening dates:14th November-22nd December
Driving from the East:
– Don Valley Parkway to Richmond Street. exit, West on Richmond to Parliament, South on Parliament to Front Street, then East onto Front Street
– Kingston Rd. to Eastern Ave. Then proceed to Front Street, West on Front to Parliament, then South on Parliament, East onto Front Street
– Queen Street, West to Parliament then South on Parliament, East onto Front Street
Driving from the West:
– QEW East to Gardiner Expressway. Take Jarvis Street exit, then North on Jarvis Street to Front Street, East on Front to Trinity Street
Driving from the North:
– 427 South to QEW. QEW East to Gardiner Expressway. Take Jarvis Street exit, then North on Jarvis Street to Front Street, East on Front to Parliament Street then South on Parliament, East onto Front Street
– Don Valley Parkway South to Richmond Street exit, West on Richmond to Parliament, South on Parliament, East onto Front Street
Image Credit: Orange Girl, Studiojeanie, haveseen, Dan Gaken.