Published on December 6th, 2018 | by Guest Contributor

The Top Places to See Holiday Lights in Southern Ontario.

The beginning of December marks the kickoff to the winter holiday season. Celebrations are already well under way, with festivals of lights on beautiful display at numerous locations around the province. So, if you’re looking for some cheerful displays to put you into that holiday spirit, you don’t have to wander very far. Here are just a few of the best places to enjoy the holiday light displays in Southern Ontario.

Distillery District Christmas Market – Toronto. 

November 16 to December 23, 2017

At this time of year, Toronto’s historic Distillery District celebrates the season by transforming 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 accompanied by your favourite hot or cold drinks.

Fun activities include a visit from Santa Claus, a Ferris wheel, and even a life-sized gingerbread house. The Christmas Market can be extremely crowded on weekends, so consider a weeknight visit when admission is free and the lineups are shorter.

Winter Wonderland – Newmarket.

December 1, 2017 to January 7, 2018

Just north of Toronto, the town of Newmarket creates a Winter Wonderland for a month at the start of every winter. The Winter Wonderland features a beautiful light display in Newmarket along with free outdoor skating from December 1 through January 7. There are also free holiday train rides offered on weekends.

Festival of Lights – Burlington.

December 1, 2017 to January 8, 2018

The Burlington Festival of Lights illuminates the waterfront with a bright, festive display from dusk to dawn over the holiday season. Over 60 festive displays light up Burlington’s Spencer Smith Park from the first of December until January 8, 2018. The Burlington Festival of Lights also celebrates a ‘green Christmas’ as more and more of their displays are retrofitted with environmentally friendly LED lights.

The Winter Festival of Lights at Niagara Falls – Niagara.

November 18, 2017 to January 31, 2018

Each year in November through January, Niagara Falls captures the magic of the holiday season 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 Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day.

Christmas Panorama – Simcoe.  

November 25 to December 31, 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. Enjoy a horse-drawn trolley ride and imagine you’re revisiting traditional holidays from decades past. Live the history and tradition.

Celebration of Lights – Sarnia.

November 25, 2017 to January 1, 2018

The Celebration of Lights in Sarnia has been a beloved tradition since 1984, but it nearly came to an end last year. Local organizers almost cancelled the event due to funding and volunteer shortages. However, the public rallied behind the celebration and the festival was saved.

The Celebration of Lights now features thousands of lights and nearly 70 festive displays. Residents also compete in an annual lighting competition to see who can create the most spectacular display. The local competition judging night is held on December 11 with the awards being handed out at a ceremony a week later, on December 18.

Wonders of Winter Festival – Waterloo.

November 25 to December 31, 2017

The town of Waterloo is home to an 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.

Parliament Hill: Christmas Lights Across Canada – Ottawa.

December 7, 2017 to January 7, 2018

While hundreds of thousands of dazzling lights illuminate the downtown streets of Ottawa during the holiday season, Parliament Hill is still the highlight of the nation’s capital. The historic buildings are lit up with tens of thousands of festive coloured lights.

Plus, from December 7, 2017 through January 7, 2018, a multimedia light show is projected onto Parliament Hill’s Centre Block. Inspired by Canada’s nature, climate and culture, this 13-minute original fairy tale plays every evening in a loop from 5:30 p.m. until 11:00 p.m.

The days are getting shorter, and the colder weather is on its way. Fortunately, Southern Ontario offers a variety of festivities and celebrations to help light up those winter nights and celebrate the season.

Have you captured pictures of any festive holiday lights in your area?  Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!


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