This year a few places in Canada are seeing more green than glistening, but that hasn’t stopped the Christmas spirit. Here are the 20 best Canadian cities to celebrate Christmas (based on a Reader’s Digest list).
1. Christmas in Quebec City
Whether you live in Quebec City or you’re just visiting, this city embodies the old-world Christmas charm. From the cobblestone lanes, to the usually beautiful, fluffy white snow flakes that land on a backdrop of beautiful, historic architecture. Families will also appreciate that Quebec City doesn’t just decorate in style, they also celebrate in style. This 2015 Christmas season, you can stroll through the Christmas village, complete with a blanket of snow, or check out the German Christmas Market, where you can sip mulled wine and browse for gifts.
2. Christmas in Toronto
Attracting half million people, Canada’s largest city annually holds one of the biggest Santa Claus parades in the world (but it’s held in mid-November, so don’t plan on this event in December). Throughout the month of December, take in the Cavalcade of Lights, a festival that kicked off with the lighting of a massive Christmas tree in Nathan Phillips Square, which is in front of City Hall in downtown Toronto. Then check out the Distillery District’s Christmas Market (this year there is a $5 admission fee), or the Christmas windows at The Bay downtown at Queen and Yonge.
3. Christmas in Ottawa
Beginning with an illumination ceremony in early December, the nation’s capital bathes the Parliament Buildings in dramatic light’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.
4. Christmas in Niagara Falls
What could be better than Christmas-themed lighting when illuminating one of the world’s best-known natural attractions—Niagara Falls. Even more impressive is that each year this city puts on a Winter Festival of Lights, which 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.
5. Christmas in Saskatoon
Now, before you question why a Prairie-city has cracked the top 10 list, consider a recent study by the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. The study found that Saskatoon has the highest number of candy and toy stores, per capita, in the country. It could explain why this city also has an abundance of kids under the age of 14. Combine this with the strong possibility of a white Christmas and Saskatoon becomes a winter wonderland for anyone young-at-heart.
6. Christmas in 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 you can 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. But the city doesn’t stop there. Lights are strung from suspension bridges on the North Shore, while parks and streets are decorated with festive cheer.
7. Christmas in Calgary
Want to know the Calgary Christmas tradition? Go to the zoo. 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).
8. Christmas in 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.