As December 25 edges closer, the festive season gets into full swing. And with it, the pressure to get all your holiday shopping done in time ramps up.
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. Going on a driving or motorhome holiday in Canada in the build up to the big day? Read our guide to the best markets you can visit and how to drive there.
Banff Christmas Market
Located in Canada’s first national park, the Banff Christmas Market is 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, there are lots of gifts you can pick up.
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.
Opening dates: 25-27 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 at the end of Sundance Road.
Calgary Christmas Market
Enticing aromas, a festive glow, delicious treats and plenty of Christmas cheer await at Calgary’s newest Christmas Market. It has quickly become known as one of the best Christmas markets in Canada.
Visit all of the popular vendors from the famous Calgary Farmers’ Market, plus new and exciting holiday vendors offering Yuletide gifts, food, jewellery, décor and more.
The Calgary Christmas Market is the premiere destination to find everything for on the table and under the tree this holiday season. See Santa, enjoy the local carollers or try your hand at the gifting workshops. And that’s not just for the grown-ups! There is plenty to keep the kids entertained too.
Plus, it is free to enter.
Opening dates: November 18-December 11
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
– Continue onto Macleod Trail SE and turn left onto 42 Avenue SW
– Then turn right onto 4 Street SE/Manhattan Road SE and turn right onto Blackfoot Trail SE S
– Turn left onto 71 Ave SE and take the first right and the Christmas market is on your left.
Christkindl Market of Kitchener, Canada’s original festival of German Christmas, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
Since 1996 the 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.
The famous Christmas market is visited by more than 35,000 visitors every year. If you decide to head here then you can expect to see 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.
The market attracts over 90 vendors every year and you can try local food and pick up toys, artisan handicrafts, decorations and jewellery with an emphasis on Old World German themes and flavours.
What’s more, to celebrate its 20th anniversary the Christkindl Market this year will light a giant spruce Christmas tree, feature a candlelight procession as well as re-enact the annual Christkindl Market procession in Nuremberg, Germany.
Opening dates: 1-4 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 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.
It features 85 local makers, do-it-yourself workshops, food carts and some of the best swag bags in town. Got Craft celebrates its tenth year and 20th event this December as Vancouver’s largest indie craft fair.
The market costs just $5 to enter and is being held at the Pipe Shop Building, which is conveniently located across from the Seabus terminal.
Opening dates: 10-11 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.
Marché de Noël and des Traditions
This year the Marché de Noël and des Traditions will be 13 days long, extending the previous eight-day length with extra days of cheer.
The Christmas market, which is located at Parc St. Mark in Longueuil, Montreal, will have 51 little houses and 66 artisans selling their range of gifts and souvenirs.
A little train and Santa Claus will be in attendance while you listen to the music and songs on offer, or watch a variety of shows and concerts during your visit.
Opening dates: 2, 3, 4; 9, 10, 11; 16 & 22 December
Directions from the centre of Longueuil:
– Head north-east on Rue de Longueuil towards Rue Saint-Thomas
– Then turn left onto Rue Saint-Charles Ouest
Québec City’s German Christmas Market
Québec City’s German Christmas Market will be celebrating 10 years of magic in 2016. You can discover 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.
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: November 24 – December 18
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.
If you want to come back from your Canadian holiday or break with a souvenir then there are plenty of options, from decorations and home décor to make-up and clothing.
The beer gardens serve up Christmas cocktails and hot rum and are a great place to relax after shopping.
If you have young children then there usually is a life-size gingerbread house that will entertain them for hours.
Opening dates: November 18-22 December
Driving from the East:
– On the Don Valley Parkway, drive to Richmond Street and then west to Parliament Street.
– Head south to Parliament Street and then follow signs for Mill Street and the Distillery will be on your left and you will just need to find a space to park.
Driving from the West:
– Take the QEW east to Gardiner Expressway and take the Jarvis Street exit and head north onto Front Street.
– Then head east and follow signs for Parliament Street and the Distillery will be on your left hand side.
Driving from the North:
– Take the 427 south to QEW.
– Head east to Gardiner Expressway and take the Jarvis Street exit.
– Head north on Jarvis Street to Front Street.
– Proceed to Parliament Street and take the turning to Mill Street. You will be able to park along here.
Image Credit: Orange Girl, Studiojeanie, haveseen, Dan Gaken.