Published on November 8th, 2016 | by Guest Contributor

6 Winter Festivals to Celebrate the Holiday Season.

The temperature is dropping and snow is on the way. Should we all start hibernating until spring? Heck no. That’s not what Canadians do. We embrace the winter season. Okay, that can be a bit of a hard sell as we’re digging out our toques and gloves for the first time this year. Fortunately, Southern Ontario boasts a variety of festivities and celebrations to help get us warmed up for the colder weather.

Here are a few of the best of them.


The Winter Festival of Lights at Niagara Falls
November 19, 2016 – January 31, 2017

Every year in November through January, Niagara Falls is lit up with Canada’s largest festival of lights. Beautiful illuminated displays run over eight kilometres through Niagara Parkway, Dufferin Islands and the surrounding areas. The festival features animated displays and millions of lights, as well as fireworks on weekends and around the holidays.

This year’s winter lights festival kicks off on Saturday, November 19 in Queen Victoria Park with evening performances and fireworks.




Distillery District Christmas Market
November 18 – December 22, 2016

To celebrate the coming of winter, Toronto’s historic Distillery District transforms itself into a European-style holiday experience. The Christmas Market is lit up with festive lights and offers hundreds of unique and local handcrafted goods for sale as well as traditional European and Canadian-style street food and holiday treats. All perfect to take in while strolling and sipping your favourite hot or cold drinks.

The Ferris wheel and life-sized gingerbread house are a must see.

Toronto Christmas Market 2014



Christmas Panorama
November 26, 2016 – January 1, 2017

Thousands of lights and holiday themed exhibitions transform Simcoe’s downtown parks into a magical winter wonderland. First held in 1958, the Christmas Panorama is Ontario’s oldest festival of lights. Horse-drawn trolley rides allow revellers to imagine they’re visiting holidays from decades past. Time travel as well as travel.




Christkindl Market
December 1 – 4, 2016

One of Canada’s oldest German communities, Kitchener pays homage to its roots with the annual Christkindl Market and celebration. Entertainment includes a candle-lit procession, dozens of bands, carollers and choirs, as well costumed performers. Vendors manning wooden huts and indoor booths sell traditional handmade Christmas ornaments, nutcrackers, hand carved toys, clothing, jewellery and more.

For refreshments, sample traditional German sausages, fritters, mulled wine, mugs of beer, or something from the schnapps bar.




Wonders of Winter Festival
November 25 – December 31, 2016

Nearby Waterloo hosts the annual Wonders of Winter festival. This holiday tradition features over eighty displays, including animated instillations, all lit up by 100,000 lights. Exhibits include Santa Claus and Christmas scenes, nursery rhymes and cartoon characters, and even a hand carved olive wood Nativity scene. Visitors can enjoy hot chocolate or warm cider as they tour the displays, attend the celebrations, or take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the winter magic.




First Light at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons
November 24-26, December 1-3 & 8-10, 2016

The festivities are centered around a 17th-century historic Jesuit mission illuminated with 5,000 candles. Candlelit paths lead to a variety of fun family activities including Native drumming and singing, Franco-Ontarian folksongs, and choirs performing holiday music.

The cookhouse offers tastings of hot chocolate and old-fashioned seasonal treats. There is also a museum, artisan vendors, crafts, and historic demonstrations of blacksmithing, musketry and more.



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