Where to Spend Christmas in Canada: Quebec City
Even if they did nothing at all, Quebec City would still be a great place to spend the holidays, with cobblestone lanes, beautiful and fluffy white snow, and some of the most historic and striking architecture in Canada. But, fortunately, there’s a lot going on in the capital of la Belle Province, including QuebecAdabra!, a festival that offers large-scale illuminations, a light show and an authentic German Christmas market, where you can sip mulled win and browse for gifts. If you can’t decide where to spend Christmas in Canada, Quebec City will not disappoint you.
Where to Spend Christmas in Canada: Toronto
Attracting half million people, Canada’s largest city annually holds one of the biggest Santa Claus parades in the world. And throughout the month of December, take in the Cavalcade of Lights, a festival that kicks off with the lighting of a massive Christmas tree in Nathan Phillips Square, in front of City Hall.
Where to Spend Christmas in Canada: Ottawa
Beginning with an illumination ceremony in early December, the nation’s capital bathes the Parliament Buildings in dramatic lights with the prime minister often flipping the switch himself. The ceremony also includes free hot chocolate, Christmas caroling and Beaver Tails, and is followed by a solid month of beauty: both Parliament Hill and more than 60 sights along Confederation Boulevard feature lovely illumination displays.
Where to Spend Christmas in Canada: Niagara Falls
Lighting up one of the world’s best-known natural attractions-making the majestic Falls even more impressive-this city’s annual Winter Festival of Lights also strings more than three million lights throughout the city, including the world’s largest Canadian/American illuminated flag. There are also weekly fireworks over the falls for the duration of the festival, and a number of other festive events, including musicals, shopping fairs and concert.
Where to Spend Christmas in Canada: Saskatoon
There are few bigger thrills than being a kid at Christmas, especially if you live in Saskatoon. A recent study by the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management found that Saskatoon (the only city in Canada to break their Top 10) has the highest number of candy and toy stores, per capita, in the country, plus an abundance of kids under the age of 14, and a very good probability of having snow on December 25. It’s the magic combination for a magical Christmas.
Where to Spend Christmas in Canada: Vancouver
An annual tradition since the 1960s, Vancouver’s Carol Ships Parade of Lights takes the festivities out on the water-every night in the month of December, as many as 80 boats strung with some 100,000 lights parade around False Creek, Deep Cove and Port Moody. Watch from shore at a bonfire or carol sing, and book yourself a spot on a dinner cruise on board one of the ships. Or, head to Stanley Park to ride the miniature train through more than one million lights, strung all over one of Canada’s greatest green spaces.
Where to Spend Christmas in Canada: Calgary
While taking a trip to the zoo may not be your first impulse on a cold winter’s day, in Calgary, it’s a tradition. Every year, from late November to early January, the Calgary Zoo hosts a huge event called Zoolights. Sip hot chocolate and walk past the 1.5 million beautiful lights, then visit the kids-only Elf’s Toy Shop, Candy Land, and something called “Santa Vision,” which allows kids to speak directly to the big man in the North Pole (you can even download the conversation to share it with family and friends).
Where to Spend Christmas in Canada: Bay Roberts, Newfoundland
What’s better than a Santa Claus parade? Two, of course. This small Newfoundland community on the Avalon Peninsula hosts an annual Festival of Lights that includes the largest Nativity scene east of Montreal, an intelligent light park, fireworks, concerts and, yes, two parades-one during the daytime and another at night.
Where to Spend Christmas in Canada: Edmonton
Home to an honest-to-goodness Candy Cane Lane, eight blocks in Edmonton’s West End become a festive wonderland every December. In fact, it’s become so popular that, on peak nights during weekends just before Christmas, the spectacle can lead to traffic jams. Organizers encourage people to walk-or, better yet, use their website to book a horse-drawn sleigh ride.
Where to Spend Christmas in Canada: Airdrie, Alberta
This small Alberta town holds huge festive celebrations-every year, Airdrie’s Nose Creek Park is transformed into an immersive, illuminative experience. With a massive display of more than one million dollar’s worth of twinkling lights (walk, or take a miniature train ride for $2), you can also enjoy bonfires, crafting stations, Christmas movies on a big screen, meet-and-greets with chuck wagon racers and magic shows.