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The Best Christmas Markets in Canada

From the snow-capped peaks of Banff to Charlottetown's winter wonderland, here's where you'll find the most magical Christmas markets across Canada.

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Christmas markets - CharlottetownPhoto: Brady McCloskey

The Best Christmas Markets to Visit in Canada

It’s the perfect low-pressure break during the rush-rush days leading up to the holidays: a warm, rich, spiced glass of glühwine, twinkling lights, maybe some carols and a sleigh ride, followed by a leisurely browse through the charming little pop-up shops. Christmas markets are a centuries-old tradition in Western Europe that began back in the Middle Ages. Their popularity has persisted, and more recently, has spread across the Atlantic. From coast to coast, here are some of the best Christmas markets in Canada.

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Holiday markets - Vancouver Christmas MarketPhoto: Tourism Vancouver/Vancouver Christmas Market

Vancouver Christmas Market

Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Vancouver Christmas Market stands seaside, surrounding the cauldron from the 2010 Olympics, with views of Vancouver Harbour, Stanley Park and coastal mountains. This market brings a slice of Bavaria to the West Coast, including German beer steins and Austrians brews, served alongside local beverages from Wild Goose Wines or Okanagan Spirits. Browse the vendors for everything from Christmas sweaters to Bowen Island salt, then take a magical spin on the carousel.

Make sure to add these day trips from Vancouver to your bucket list!

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Holiday markets - Banff Christmas MarketPhoto: Kelly MacDonald/Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

Banff Christmas Market

Set inside Banff National Park, this snowy market has a storybook mountain backdrop. Take a sleigh ride, then roast an apple over a campfire (the secret is to get it hot, then roll the apple in cinnamon and brown sugar), watch the Santa Claus parade and shop for a wide variety of locally made items from Bow Valley artisans. When you’re ready for a rest, settle in for some mulled wine, or something stronger, in the Fire Lounge.

Here are more great things to do in Banff.

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Holiday markets - Toronto Christmas MarketPhoto: Toronto Christmas Market

Toronto Christmas Market

Picture it: cobblestones and carollers, plus thousands of sparkling white lights strung over a towering, five-storey tree. Located just east of Toronto’s downtown, the Distillery Historic District was once Gooderham and Worts, a whisky factory founded in 1832. Now restored, this pedestrianized shopping area hosts the Toronto Christmas Market, widely regarded as one of the world’s best. The five week program of holiday festivities includes an interactive 3-D winter wonderland, coffee lounge, live entertainment, and a guided walking tour of the district.

Take a look at what Christmas was like in Toronto in the 1960s.

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Holiday markets - Kitchener Christkindl MarketPhoto: Christkindl Market

Kitchener Christkindl Market

Originally named Berlin, the city of Kitchener, Ontario, has a strong German heritage. Is it any wonder, then, that it hosted Canada’s first annual holiday market, Christkindl, back in 1997? This flurry of festive activity opens with a philharmonic choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus from a balcony at City Hall, followed by a tree lighting and candlelight procession. Over the next few days, you can come and see actual blacksmiths at work, skate on an ice rink and visit a live nativity scene. Fuel your festive spirit with some (free!) milk and cookies.

Don’t miss this gorgeous gallery of Canadian winter photography.

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Holiday markets - Village de Noel de MontrealPhoto: Tourisme Montreal

Village de Noël de Montreal

Centred on Atwater Market, an Art Deco gem that dates back to 1933, Montreal’s main Christmas market is big on Quebecois charm. Visit the sugar shack for maple syrup, then sample poutine, smoked meat and other staples. Young kids can experience the interactive “Elves Kingdom” adventure, as well as escape games and other activities. Don’t miss the massive raclette party, where cheese is melted by a huge bonfire, and then everyone settles in, happy and full, for a festive movie at the outdoor cinema.

Touring the city over a weekend? Use our list of things to do in Montreal as your guide!

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Holiday markets - German Christmas Market (Quebec City)Photo: Quebec City Tourism

German Christmas Market

Along the cobblestones of Old Quebec City, there’s plenty to keep you busy (and fed) at the German Christmas Market. The emphasis here is on Bavarian treats—think fondue, bratwurst, pretzels, waffles and gingerbread. Take part in their mulled wine ceremony, browse from dozens of shops, take in choral performances and—a huge highlight—a dog parade, where pups get dressed up in their festive finery.

Still on the market for that perfect present? Check out these great Canadian gifts under $50.

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Holiday markets - Charlottetown Christmas FestivalPhoto: Brady McCloskey

Charlottetown Christmas Festival

For one weekend, Prince Edward Island becomes the North Pole, with this festival and market transforming the heart of the provincial capital into a winter wonderland of ice sculptures and horse-drawn carriages. There’s a food hall, indigenous artisan market, petting zoo, gingerbread-decorating workshops and—of course—visits from Santa Claus himself.

Next, discover the best places to spend Christmas in Canada.