If you’re planning a Christmas holiday, there really is no better place to spend the festive season than Canada. With snowy scenes and seasonal cheer in abundance, you’ll feel festive in no time.

Many of Canada’s cities transform from bustling metropolises to winter wonderlands over the festive period, with Christmas markets and lots of other events and celebrations planned. If you have always dreamt of booking Canada holidays over the Christmas period, then read on for our top six places to jet off to for some festive cheer.

1. Toronto

Toronto Christmas Lights

There are lots of cheap flights to Toronto that you can book around the holiday season, but you won’t be the only ones drawn to Canada’s largest city. Half a million people are attracted by the sparkling lights, outdoor skating rinks, seasonal events and magnificent window displays.

Best Christmas events in Toronto

The Distillery Winter Village

(Mid-November to 31 December)

The winter village in Toronto’s historic Distillery District will have outdoor vendor cabins offering specially curated seasonal items and gifts, plus delicious, can't-miss food cabins. If you visit the Distillery Winter Village you can also explore more than 60 shops, restaurants and cafes in the district, so you can easily spend an entire day here!

Christmas at Casa Loma

(Select dates December through January)

Casa Loma will host a variety of activities and thrilling performances over the festive period and during your visit you will be in awe of the stunning Christmas decorations, including a 40ft tall tree in the Great Hall and eight other signature trees by talented Canadian designers. Admission to Christmas at Casa Loma costs $45 CAD per person.

Cavalcade of Lights

(late November – mid January)

The illumination of the iconic Christmas tree in Nathan Phillips Square takes place during the Cavalcade of Lights festival. Not only can you bask in the glow of thousands of energy-efficient bulbs as they adorn the heart of downtown Toronto, but you can go ice skating on the huge ice rink.

2. Québec

Québec City is a must-visit destination as it is regarded by many as the most festive location in the whole of Canada. The city itself is bursting with culture and is the perfect place to go for a city break holiday over the festive period.

During the Christmas period, the cobbled streets, Parisian-style cafes, and designer boutiques of Québec are dressed in lights and decorations, which turn the city into a real Christmas village.

The best Christmas events in Québec City

German Christmas Market

(Late November – December)

In the heart of Old Québec, the German Christmas Market recreates the European markets with its atmosphere, beautiful decorations, traditional wooden kiosks, selection of delicious German treats (bratwurst, mulled wine, gingerbread, and much more), Christmas gifts, choral singing and indoor and outdoor performances.

The organisers for the German Christmas Market told us a bit more about this year’s event: “Christmas time, the most wonderful time of the year, is even more magical in Old Québec, this historical UNESCO City. This year the German Christmas Market celebrates its 15th anniversary and will amaze its visitors with a lot of novelties, Christmas choirs and entertainments for the entire family, all of them for free.

“Québec’s Christmas Market is spread on five different sites in the historical city and local artisans offer a wide variety of products. It is the perfect place to enjoy the vibrant colours, smells and sounds that not only will instantly put a huge smile on your face, but you can also take pleasure in watching the snowflakes slowly falling and adding to the holiday magic!

“Whatever hour of the day, take a Glühwein or Cider (without alcohol) and just look around you to absorb the unique European atmosphere- not only at the market but also via the beautiful buildings around you. The sausages of Markus are a total MUST. There are so many huts filled with the most interesting things to offer to your loved ones, or to yourself, for Christmas. Have a ‘Flammküche’ or ‘Spätzle’ in the Châlet alpin BMW, authentic from a cook from the Alsace. And especially ALLOW TIME to enjoy it all.

“Quebec is one of the most welcoming cities in Canada and we will be thrilled and happy to welcome you in our beautiful city, which is transformed into a real Christmas tale, with a Canadian but also European touch. Every day, from Thursday to Sunday, there are so many different activities for every generation.”

Christmas tours of Québec City

(Late November - beginning of January)

By going on walking tours with the likes of Cicérone Tours you can discover traditions of Christmas past. This walking tour will be led by a costumed guide dressed from the early days of New France. On the tour you will explore all the incredible Christmas decorations that are on show across the city as well as learn more about the history of the city.

If you’d prefer not to go on a tour, then you should just stroll through the city yourself. From Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church in Place Royale to the end of Rue du Petit-Champlain, you can experience a winter wonderland as the area is decorated with a variety of amazing Christmas lights.

3. Montréal

Montréal, also in the French-speaking province of Québec, is another great city to enjoy over the Christmas season. You can indulge in delicious festive food and check out one of the colourful seasonal events.

The duo behind Practical Wanderlust highly recommends heading to the city over the festive period: “We visited Montréal between Christmas and New Year’s, when the city was still decked out in stunning Christmas displays and windows were bedecked in wreaths and pine boughs. The crunching snow – er, slush – beneath our winter boots only enhanced our Christmas cheer. Plus, Montreal’s Christmas Markets rival Europe’s. Need we say more?!”

Best Christmas events in Montréal

A Victorian Christmas

(Every weekend throughout December)

You can enjoy a Victorian Christmas at the Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site, as you can explore the old Victorian house and get an insight into how Christmas was celebrated during the era. There is also Christmas card making classes you can get involved in.

Holiday Alley in Old Montréal

Holiday Alley in Old Montréal has become a hugely popular attraction with locals and visitors in recent year. The Pepin Shop (Maison Pepin) decorates an alley in Old Montréal with decorations that make you think of Christmas. You can then browse the shop for presents to give to friends or family.

Merry Montréal (Montréal En Fetes)

The Merry Montréal (Montréal En Fetes) event runs free activities in Old Montréal, so you can live the holiday season magic again. You will be transported with the holiday spirit at Nordic Square and experience musical performances, hot spots to warm up, interactive light installations and a sampling bar of Québec’s finest products.

Merry Montréal also runs some of the biggest New Year’s Eve parties in the city and although the details for the events have not been revealed yet, in previous years there have been events organised on the Jacques-Cartier Pier in Montréal’s Old Port, as well as in Dorchester Square and Victoria Square.

Ariane Simon, the general manager of Merry Montréal, recommends that you dress up warm: “The best way to enjoy Montréal in the winter is to dress warmly and get out there! Make sure to wear a beanie, gloves, a scarf and lots of layers. A good trick is also to keep an extra pair of socks to change them once you get cold. Winter is also a fantastic excuse to indulge in a warm hot chocolate or gluhwein at Place Nordique to warm up.”

Christmas on the Avenue

(Until 24 December)

Christmas on the Avenue is an annual event at Mont Royal. There are Christmas lights which illuminate the park, a Christmas village where you can pick up gifts and live music.

4. Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is one of the most popular places to visit any time of the year, and this iconic waterfall is also a great destination to visit over the festive period.

There are nightly fireworks over Christmas, and these spectacularly illuminate the falls, but it’s the snow-covered Niagara that really is a sight to see as it puts you in the festive spirit.

Best Christmas events in Niagara Falls

Winter Festival of Lights

(November – February)

The Winter Festival of Lights was founded 40-years-ago and now it is Canada’s largest illumination festival, attracting over a million people every year.

The incredible light displays capture the magic of the holiday season, and the signature 8km long route travels through the Niagara Parks, Dufferin Islands and the surrounding tourist districts to transform the city into a winter wonderland.

At this year’s event there will be a new self-guided trail that will lead you to delicious stops of chocolatey concoctions created by chocolatiers, chefs and mixologists at some of the area’s excellent restaurants and bake shops across Niagara Falls. In total there will be 17 stops with 23 unique and delicious flavours to sip and savour.

Christmas at Skylon Tower

(25 December)

If you are spending Christmas at Niagara Falls, then you can enjoy Christmas Dinner at the Skylon Tower. The popular attraction is a great place to visit as you can enjoy a three-course meal and some of the best views of Niagara Falls.

In celebration of Christmas Day, the tower will glow red. Anita Pang Hrepic, Director of Sales at the Skylon Tower, tells us about the different celebrations, “Skylon Tower transforms into a magical place at Christmas. We are decorated in the Holiday spirit with a Christmas tree in our lobby and Summit Suite Buffet restaurant and festive trimmings throughout the building.”

Niagara Falls Christmas Market

The Niagara Falls Christmas Market will feature shopping from artisanal vendors and local businesses, light displays, live entertainment, photo-ops, glow swings, glow seesaws, and more!

It is also completely free to attend the event in Downtown Niagara Falls and during your visit you should try the Christmas-themed street food and Canadian holiday treats and drinks. If you are feeling cold, you can even keep warm by the fire pits.

Visit the Nightmares Fear Factory

(anytime in December)

If you love Christmas books like Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, then there will be plenty of ghosts and other scary things related to Christmas that you can see at the Nightmares Fear Factory over the festive season. The Nightmares Fear Factory is a psychological haunted house and is the oldest attraction of its kind in North America.

5. Ottawa

Ottawa is the perfect city to walk around and celebrate the festive season as you can put on some skates and explore the city via the Rideau Canal.

There is so much you can see and do in Ottawa over the festive season and here we give you an idea of some of the most popular events taking place in the city.

Best Christmas events in Ottawa

Ottawa Christmas Market

(Late November – 23 December)

The Ottawa Christmas Market, located in the Aberdeen Square, is one of the top festive attractions to visit in the city as you can enjoy live music, taste local and international food and drink, attend events such as silent discos and a special gig that celebrates traditional music of the indigenous peoples, or you can just go shopping for a Christmas gift.

Visit Byward Market

(Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm throughout the year)

Although Byward Market is an attraction that should be on your bucket list of places to visit in Ottawa no matter what time of the year you are in the city, it is a great place to head to in the build-up to Christmas.

Emily Cordonier, the blogger behind Embracing Ottawa, says the city is a favourite destination for many over the holiday season. She’s shared with us why visiting Byward Market is a must:

“A favourite holiday destination is the Byward Market which is illuminated by thousands of lights, and you can browse the many market stalls selling Christmas trees, wreaths, maple syrup and handmade gift ideas. On the weekends you can even enjoy a free horse-drawn wagon ride around the market.”

Alight at Night at Upper Canada Village

(Throughout December)

The Alight at Night at Upper Canada Village is back and this year you will be able to enjoy an evening stroll and marvel at this picture-postcard setting. The heritage buildings, trees, and gardens of the Upper Canada Village will be lit up by over one million lights and it is the perfect backdrop for its annual Alight at Night Festival.

Emily Cordonier adds: “Another must-see holiday attraction in the Ottawa area is Alight at Night at Upper Canada Village. Go back in time and experience Christmas as it once was with thousands of multicoloured lights, a horse-drawn carriage ride around the village, visits with St. Nicholas, carollers in the old chapel, a train ride and delicious holiday treats. Nothing gets my family in the Christmas spirit more than this spectacular holiday outing.”

Carp Farmers’ Market

If you are a foodie, then the Carp Farmers’ Market is a great place to visit as it is the largest producer-based farmers’ market in Eastern Ontario, with over 100 vendors offering produce, baked goods and crafts. Their Christmas Market is the perfect place to go and pick up some delicious Christmas treats or gifts.

6. Vancouver

One unique place to celebrate Christmas in Canada is Vancouver. If you’re lucky enough to be spending time in the city over the festive season, then you’ll be delighted to see the city’s bounty of Christmas lights, markets and events against the backdrop of the snowy Coast Mountain Range.

Gemma and Craig from Two Scots Abroad have visited Vancouver at Christmas and loved it: “There are a number of shows and shopping opportunities throughout Vancouver. On weekends you can escape to ski at Whistler or snow-show at Joffre Lake. The sunsets on the Sunshine Coast are worth the ferry ride.”

A lot happens in the city during this time of year!

Best Christmas events in Vancouver

Vancouver Christmas Market

(Mid-November – 24 December)

The Vancouver Christmas Market returns to Jack Poole Plaza (downtown Vancouver at the Olympic Cauldron), and it will be lighting up the city for the 12th time this year.

The German-inspired Market is one of the largest traditional Christmas Markets in Vancouver and here you can try German and European tasty eats and treats, sit together in the Alpen Haus, shop for hand crafted gifts in the Kaufmannsgasse (Merchant Alley), or grab a drink at the Christmas Pyramid. You can also visit the Walk-In Christmas Tree, experiencing 36,000 twinkling lights, and you can listen to live music and watch entertainers perform on the Flying Stage at the market.

Malte Kluetz, CEO and Founder of the market, adds: “This year, we’re delivering a festive feeling in a big way, with more lights, new vendors offering savoury and sweet treats, and lots of holiday activities for all ages. Last year, we saw families, friends, and people of all ages travel across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley to create new holiday traditions at the Vancouver Christmas Market.”

The Canyon Lights

(Mid-November until mid-January)

The Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park event is back! Whilst this iconic bridge is a must-see when visiting Vancouver, with it dressed in Christmas lights, the bridge becomes even more of an Insta-worthy photograph.

The bridge is lit end-to-end with a changing multi-colour display, and the Capilano River is illuminated below. The rainforest around the bridge is also twinkling from treetop to forest floor and you can walk through the impressive ‘Arc de Lumina’ light tunnel.

VanDusen Festival of Lights

The VanDusen Festival of Lights is one of Vancouver’s most popular Christmas attractions as it transforms the city’s main botanical garden into a winter wonderland.

There are over one million lights decorating the 15 acres of the gardens and there are different themes as you walk through. You can enjoy tasty treats and festive music during your visit too!

PNE Winter Fair

(Various dates in December)

The PNE Winter Fair is jam-packed full of Christmas events that range from a festive market and indoor ice-skating rink to holiday theatre shows and a walk-through light display.

If you arrive early at the winter fair, which is located at East Hastings Street, Vancouver, you will be able to watch the nightly switch-on of the 50-foot high Christmas tree. There are plenty of live concerts every night of the fair so, no matter when you decide to visit, there will be plenty of activities you can enjoy.

The top six best places to spend Christmas in Canada:

  • Toronto
  • Québec
  • Montréal
  • Niagara Falls
  • Ottawa
  • Vancouver

If you want to make Christmas extra special by spending it in one of the above places, then take a look at our range of holidays and flights to Canada and book your dream trip. For more information and advice about Christmas in Canada, you can contact our special advisors on 0203-777-2607.

For more tips, guides, and advice, make sure to visit our blog.

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