When it comes to cold weather, few do it better than the Canadians. It’s a good job then that the most wonderful time of the year falls in winter! Twinkling lights keep dark nights at bay. Numb fingers are warmed by hot spiced drinks. And chilly travellers are welcomed in from the cold. At Christmas-time, Canada comes into its element!
It’s no surprise that Canada is full of Christmas attractions. With so much festive cheer to choose from, here at Canadian Affair we’ve revealed some of the best places you can visit to celebrate the season. So whether you’re looking forward to a city break or a fly drive holiday to Canada, December has some truly magical treats in store.
Calgary shouldn’t just be a short stop-off on your way through to the Rockies. Every time Christmas comes around, Calgary puts on a show. Here are some events you can head to this year:
Calgary Zoo is arguably the top Christmas attraction in Calgary and this year its ZOOLIGHTS event has returned.
The Calgary Zoo’s ZOOLIGHTS is the city’s favourite holiday tradition. It features over one million lights, an array of festive entertainment and activities every night.
Trish Exton-Parder, who is Calgary Zoo’s Lead Media Relations officer, explains why families should visit ZOOLIGHTS.
She says, “It is inexpensive and very much in the holiday spirit. It takes folks away from the daily grind and introduces the spirit of the season. It has become a tradition for many!
“The lights themselves immerse you in joy….from the moment you walk in you are surrounded with colour, some lights moving, some set to music, some in shapes of our animals.”
If you fly into the city it’s easy to stop-off at Calgary for a few nights and visit Calgary Zoo, before driving off into the mountains.
Date of event: runs until 8 January 2017
Airdrie Santa Claus Parade
The Santa Claus Parade is a must-see! You can watch Santa and an array of floats roll down Main Street and light up the downtown area.
As if the stunning parade wasn’t enough, there’s also a huge fireworks display. This is a festive, fun way to set the mood of your Christmas holiday in Canada.
Date of event: 3 December
Winter in Edmonton might be cold and dark, but Christmas lights up the whole city.
There really are a ton of things you can do over the festive season in Edmonton, so snap out of your hibernation and visit some of these incredible events.
Explore Edmonton recommends that you head to the Ice Castles event. This acre-sized winter wonderland is crafted by hand using only icicles and water.
Each winter, Hawrelak Park becomes home to impressive ice castles. You can even squeeze, squish and crawl through parts of the stunning, Narnia-like displays.
If you have children then they will love whizzing down the tubular ice slide and spelunking through small tunnels.
Date of event: 15 December to 31 March
Celebrate the festive season at Alberta Legislature
The town hall, which is the house of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, lights up Edmonton every year and is a great place for you to visit to celebrate the festive season.
The building is located on the Fort of Edmonton and boasts a large greenspace that you can explore during a visit here.
You are able to go on tours of this impressive building throughout the day and can get up close to the grandeur that the different rooms possess.
During the holiday season, the Alberta Legislature is a magical spot for ice skating, carollers, and winter strolls amongst the thousands of lights on the grounds.
Date of event: 1-21 December
There is plenty of Christmas cheer in Canada’s capital and the surrounding Ottawa region. You can enjoy a whole range of attractions over the most wonderful time of the year.
Festive delights at Ottawa’s Markets
We recently rounded up the best Christmas Markets in Canada and there are plenty of similar markets in Ottawa that you can visit.
Christmas trees, colourful garlands and joyful decorations are all on sale at the ByWard Market and Parkdale Market in Ottawa each day.
The Ottawa Farmer’s Christmas Market is another must-visit market. From live local music to activities for the kids, it’s definitely one for the whole family.
You can also browse over 120 vendors selling locally grown and locally made food, as well as arts and crafts.
Date of event: Throughout December
Christmas Lights across Canada
Ottawa Tourism says the Christmas Lights across Canada event will decorate downtown Ottawa and Gatineau with hundreds of thousands of colourful lights.
The 32nd edition of the event will again highlight an animated multimedia show which is projected on the Parliament Buildings. The stunning 13-minute lightshow loops between 5:30-11pm, from December 7-25 2016.
Date of event: 1 December to 7 January 2017
Alight at Night
If you really do love looking at beautiful Christmas lights, then around an hour’s drive south of downtown Ottawa is the Upper Canada Village.
Once again this popular attraction will be presenting its Alight at Night event. It is estimated that a million lights will be decorating the heritage village’s streets and buildings!
Date of event: 2-31 December
Quebec’s lights, decorations and snow create a truly enchanting Christmas setting like no other.
You shouldn’t be surprised to hear that the province of Quebec, and in particular Quebec City, is renowned as one of the world’s top places to celebrate Christmas. Here are some awesome attractions you should visit.
German Christmas Market
Quebec City and Area recommend heading to the German Christmas Market in Quebec City.
The market will immerse you into a traditional European Christmas, with its small village of wooden kiosks and scintillating lights.
You can try bratwurst and traditional German glühwein and gingerbread, whilst picking up stunning decorations and other Christmas gifts.
There will also be carol singers performing some classic Christmas songs, as well as lots of other awesome performances.
Date of event: 1-18 December
Experience the Christmas magic in Old Quebec
Throughout December you can go on a Christmas magic in Old Quebec tour.
Experience the Christmas traditions in Quebec with an authentic character. The tour guide will talk about the local history as you walk into the heart of Old Quebec and Petit-Champlain.
You will need to wrap up warm as it can get cold, but the stunning décor and attractions that you visit along the way will fill you with some Christmas warmth!
Date of event: 1 December 2016 to 2 January 2017
This bustling West Coast seaport in British Columbia is full of Christmas attractions and activities that you can drive to.
VanDusen Botanical Garden’s Festival of Lights
The VanDusen Botanical Garden’s Festival of Lights is a magical winter wonderland, with over one million lights decorating the botanical garden.
This year the show has been expanded and all tickets include a free ride on VanDusen Botanical Garden’s new carousel!
There are plenty of activities you can enjoy, from the interactive themed areas to the famous Dancing Lights show on Livingstone Lake. Don’t miss the roving Scandinavian gnomes and reindeer in the garden and the Make-A-Wish candle grotto.
Date of event: 1 December to 2 January 2017
Canada’s largest city holds unmissable Christmas events each year. Here are the best:
Christmas at Casa Loma
Christmas at North America’s only castle, Casa Loma, is a sight to behold.
This gothic castle, which was built by Sir Henry Pellatt over a three-year period from 1911-1914, is transformed over the festive period.
The castle will play host to a wide range of activities and exciting performances. These include illusionist shows from Professor Wick and Soli and Rob, and lots of Xmas workshops you can take part in.
Date of event: Throughout December
No staged production is more “Christmas” than The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky’s famous adaptation of E.T.A Hoffman’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.
Taking place at the National Ballet of Canada, the show will entertain Children and adults alike with its witty humour, amazing choreography and beautiful costumes.
Date of event: 10-31 December
Dream Big: Disney on Ice
If you are a Disney fan, then the Dream Big: Disney on Ice show is perfect for you.
The Dream Big show brings all your favourite Disney characters and stories to life through ice skating.
Expect to see all the sparkle, beauty and fantasy that Disney brings, as Tinker Bell takes you on a journey of beloved Disney tales.
You will get to see Ariel, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Belle, Jasmine, Snow White and Olaf from Disney’s Frozen.
Date of event: 23 December 2016 to 1 January 2017
Image Credit: Calgary Zoo, Christopher Lough, Explore Edmonton, Ottawa Tourism, Jamie McCaffrey, une_philosophe, Quebec City and Area, VanDusen Botanical Garden’s Festival of Lights, tsaiproject, Larry Sy.