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11 Unmissable Christmas Events in Canada

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There are some amazing places to spend Christmas across Canada, many of which are steeped in local tradition.

Whether staying close to home or looking for a new adventure this holiday, here are a few of the must-see spots for the season. Vancouver’s PNE is the city’s largest entertainment area, and during Christmas, it takes on a festive feel with lights, decorations, and adventure.

Explore the area on the PNE Winter Express, stroll through the winter light displays, and take a ride on the ice bumper cars for a one-of-a-kind Christmas experience. To find your way to Santa, there are puzzles and riddles to solve; kids can create a Christmas craft, write a letter to Santa, and leave the reindeer a holiday treat. Then mark the occasion with a traditional photo with Santa.

Families can take in shows and entertainment including the Nutcracker on Ice and the Magic of Santa Holiday Musical. While the SnowDays Festival doesn’t start until January, it is still worth a mention.

At this uniquely Canadian celebration, you will see ice and snow sculptures, which light up at night for an enchanting experience.

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For those who love the outdoors, SnowDays offers skating, sleigh rides, skijoring (horse-riding, trick-riding, and ski stunts), dog sledding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.

Families can also enjoy the SnowDays Play Zone and participate in sledding, curling, and fat tire bike riding. At the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon, visitors can get a feel for life in 1910 with Boomtown, a life-size replica of a prairie town from that era. While the exhibit is open year-round, at Christmas, the street is decorated for the festive season. The museum also features Eaton’s Once Upon A Christmas Exhibit, which includes pieces from the old department store window displays from Winnipeg and Toronto. These Christmas scenes were set to carols that were piped to the street, according to the WDM website.
With over a million lights making up this drive-thru winter light display show, visitors can stay cozy and warm in their vehicles while still enjoying the festive season in Manitoba. The event, which is hosted at Red River Exhibition Park, also includes skating, hay rides, outdoor photo opportunities, and a mailbox for kids to send their letters to Santa.
At this unique market, there are vendors in outdoor shopping cabins for a Canadian winter shopping experience. The cobblestone streets and canopy lights make this holiday experience nostalgic. Restaurants, cafes, and outdoor bars provide a relaxing place to unwind with family and friends.
For younger visitors, Santa will be taking photos and collecting wishlists. He is assisted by his team of roaming elves that will delight young and old. There is also live music, carolers, a candy cane lane, and the main attraction—the 56-foot tall Christmas tree adorned with lights and decorations. Dubbed Canada’s largest free outdoor festival of lights, the event brightens Niagara Falls for 51 nights over the holiday season. Sample Christmas favourites along Hot Chocolate Trail, where chocolatiers, chefs, and mixologists create unique blends and concoctions.
Children will have an opportunity to meet and take a photo with Santa, participate in a colouring contest, and enjoy 26 nights of fireworks displays. Enjoy a tour of a 19th-century home in Montreal at Sir George-Étienne Cartier’s Victorian home. The place will be adorned with vintage ornaments to give it a real old-fashioned feel. Guides introduce visitors to traditions and historic Christmas culture, including etiquette and old-fashioned baking, as well as games and holiday activities.
One of the most well-known Christmas traditions in Canada is the German Christmas Market in Quebec City. Designed like a European market with colourful lights, wood kiosks, and choirs, it is a unique holiday experience. Visitors can find local gifts and wares, including handmade artisan items, as well as German and European treats and gifts. The market is also alive with family activities like puppet shows, Santa Claus, magic shows, and creative craft projects for little hands. Thousands of lights and displays create a festive spirit at this traditional Christmas market. Over 45 vendors will be selling memorable Christmas gifts and goodies, while shoppers enjoy the sounds of local performers from rock bands to choirs. Santa’s workshop will offer crafts and entertainment for all ages, along with activities for younger visitors such as Santa’s Village, skating, and hockey games. The Evergreen Festival in Halifax celebrates local food, culture, and artisans. The event features a market of 22 wood chalets with vendors offering food, drink, and gifts, as well as a walkable trail of outdoor holiday light displays. There are activities for the whole family, including live musical performances, a winter sports zone, and holiday craft-making. A Christmas tradition, the CPCK Holiday Train is decorated in lights as it makes its way through Canada and the United States. Now in its 25th year, the CPCK Holiday Train brightens cities, while collecting donations for food banks to help those in need. Musical performers entertain those who gather to see the train at its various stops along the journey.

CPCK makes a donation to the local food bank in the cities where it stops. To date, the event has raised $22.5 million and 5 million pounds of food for North American food banks, according to its website.

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