Things to do & Places to stay in Ontario

NOVEMBER 17, 2020

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Christmas Markets & Holiday Lights in Ontario

It’s about to feel a lot like Christmas! There’s nothing that gets us more in the festive mood then heading out into the brisk night to sip a hot bevy and take in the twinkling lights and festive décor. Although this year Christmas is going to look a little different, there are still plenty of fun and vibrant activities across Ontario to keep us warm, bright and most importantly safe. Whether you’re looking for unique drive-through events to see the Christmas lights or outdoor Christmas markets there’s plenty to do in the following months to get you into the holiday spirit. Make sure to check our events calendar for the multitude and variety of events in each region. We’ve showcased our highlights here.

Ottawa, ON

article1nov172020.jpgTake note, Canada! The most iconic place to see the holiday lights this season will be across our nation’s capital in its Christmas Lights Across Canada program, adorning its national museums, embassies and other iconic institutions and you’ll be able to see it from province to province in a virtual show. In person, you’ll be able to gaze at the artistic light installation, Entre les rangs, on Parliament Hill from November 30 to January 7. Beloved holiday scenes and characters differentiate the Magic of Lights, a sparkling holiday lights drive-through experience. Digital animations and LED technology will also be at the forefront of this experience. Bundle up the family and make this a tradition, one where your ticket will benefit the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

Greater Toronto Area (GTA)

article2nov172020.jpgToronto is chock-full of exciting outdoor events this season! (Check our full event listing for Toronto here). Polar’s drive-through experience at Toronto’s Pearson Airport ups the ante by offering six levels of holiday themes, packed with all of the holiday elements you know and love. The various light tunnels will lead you to Santa along the way. Canadian Tire’s multi-sensory Christmas Trail features a larger-than-life event and for you to capture a creative photo with Santa. In Burlington, the Hendrie Park has been transformed into seven magical displays of winter discovery, hosted by the Royal Botanical Gardens in its Winter Wonders exhibit. The holiday spirit is alive in Richmond Hill’s Holiday Street Market hosted by Street Eats Market. Shop from local artisans, fill up at the food trucks and snap a portrait at the selfie station amidst the twinkling lights. Bundle up the kids in their wagons or strollers to Kortright Centre’s Magical Christmas Forest for an enchanting two hour experience of lights, crafts, activities and treats! Bluff’s Winter Wonderland is making its debut this year. Amidst the backdrop of the majestic Bluffer’s Park West, its west parking lot is being transformed into Reindeer Way, Snowman City and an Enchanted Forest that will make for wonderful holiday memories. The 1km drive leads you to Santa’s house where you can get a photo and leave a letter for him.

Niagara ON

article3nov172020.jpgBe amazed at the glittery lights at Canada’s largest and free outdoor event, OPG Winter Festival of Lights, featuring more than 3 million lights that will illuminate Niagara Falls, the Niagara Parkway, and the Dufferin Islands. Whether you’re in your car, walking outside, or in your hotel, you’ll have some spectacular views! Cruise by car through Safari Niagara’s park space at Glow Gardens, which has been transformed into a twinkling holiday festival, featuring over a million lights, and festive decor to a soundtrack provided by GLOW FM. You and your family could win a special gift from Santa on a scavenger hunt where you can help him find lost gifts.

Southwestern ON

article4nov172020.jpgThere are plenty of light-themed events that will illuminate you and your family during the holiday season. Marvel at the Infinity Tunnel at Owen Sound’s Festival of Northern Lights;  stroll through the Doon Heritage Village in Kitchener under the glow of 100 lanterns while sipping on some warm apple cider at its Lantern Lit Stroll, or bundle up the whole family at Schneider Haus National Historic Site for musical entertainment and storytelling from Santa Claus under the backdrop of a twinkling forest on a winter night.

Eastern ON

article5nov172020.jpgDon’t miss Eastern Ontario’s biggest light festival, the picture-perfect postcard backdrop of Upper Canada Village’s Alight at Night Festival. It’s a great way to spend some family time together during those magical winter nights! Hop on and off the FREE Holly Trolley to gaze at the Fantasy of Lights displays in Trenton and Frankford. A donation of a non-perishable food item is encouraged to give back to the local Food Bank. From November 28-30, Frankford Christmas Fantasy of Lights, will host its annual lighting display featuring some live music and hot chocolate.

Central and Northern Ontario

article6nov172020.jpgIn Central Ontario, the heritage buildings of Lang Pioneer Village’s Museum are transformed into a winter wonderland for its Heritage Christmas in the Village event. Celebrate pioneer Christmas and the historic origins of holiday traditions. Book in advance for tours. In Northern Ontario, don’t miss the opportunity to see the lighting of Ramsey Lake for its Festival of Lights. The event is a partnership between Science North and the Sudbury Charities Foundation, which has raised almost $2 million for  underprivileged children in Sudbury.


Featured Events

Christmas Village

November 28- December 20
Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm (Ottawa)

featuredevents1nov172020.jpgYour magical fairy tale Christmas dreams will be realized at Stanley’s Christmas Village in this outdoor experience. Go on a sleigh ride through an enchanted forest, chat with Santa, and visit the animals in the barn. Top it off with purchasing your Christmas Tree as a souvenir! A wonderful day for the whole family!

Winter Illumination

November 23 - January 2
Cambridge (Southwestern, ON)

featuredevents2nov172020.jpgEmbark on a fun scavenger hunt in the self-guided Winter Illumination with an online, interactive map in search of 20 light installations throughout the beautiful city Cambridge. This year, the festival will combine beloved features of other events including Phil Kline’s Unsilent Night, a soundtrack made of record bells, harps and electronic instruments that accompanies the light installations, evoking a magical, musical parade.


Until December 5
Various Locations (GTA)

featuredevents3nov172020.jpgMaximize the end of fall by discovering murals at BigArtTO, which enables you to see temporary public artworks by local artists projected on buildings and landmarks throughout the Six. Check out their website for the wards displaying the projections each Wednesday through Saturday. It’s a great way to explore the city for free and discover new art!

Featured  Christmas Market: Stackt Market’s Holiday Hills

featurednov172020.jpgStackt Market with phenomenal skyline views of the CN Tower, has been a great addition to the Fort York neighbourhood in downtown Toronto for transforming barren land into a shipping container market and cultural space, where you can shop local, get some great eats, and bevies at its on-site brewery, Belgian Moon, This year Stackt is upping the ante on its Holiday Hills festive event from November 17 to January 3. Pre or post-shop, warm up by the crackling firepits and snack on s’mores or try your hand at a new breed of sport, Crokicurle, which combines curling and crokinole. Post-match, there are now more than 3 pop-up bars to quench your thirst: Casa Campo, Toronto’s first yurt wine bar; the super kitschy and fun holiday-themed bar, Miracle; Bailey’s Treatery, and Crown Royal Courtyard, where you can listen to live acoustic sets outdoors every Thursday.



onlyinontnov172020.jpgBata Shoe Museum
Did you know that the Bata Shoe Museum has the world’s most comprehensive collection of footwear and related objects? Stemming with over 13,000 shoes, there’s plenty of interesting footwear artifacts including ancient Egyptian sandals and other historical footwear to the unique shoes of celebrities ranging from Terry Fox to Elvis. On the heels of its 25th year, the museum continues to surprise and delight with exhibitions and at-home programming, easily accessed through its website.

Print Edition

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Totally Tubular Winter Fun In Ontario

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