The holiday season is a time to spend with friends and family, enjoy winter activities, and relish good food. Winter festivals and Christmas/winter markets are a popular attraction in Canada during the holidays. Most markets open in November and run through December, providing a huge window for you and your family to plan a visit. 

Unlike shopping at a mall, Christmas markets are famous for offering a more intimate and curated shopping experience. Many of the products sold are Canadian-made, often by local businesses and makers. Along with shopping and marvelling at the decor, you can get in the holiday spirit by trying some Christmas treats, food and drinks abundantly available at the markets. 

Read A newcomer’s guide to the holiday season in Canada to familiarize yourself with popular holiday traditions and to get tips on how to make the most of the holidays.

In this article, we will share a curated list of popular winter markets by province so you can make the most of the holiday season and experience this magical time with your loved ones.

Popular Christmas markets and winter festivals in Canada

Note: Many Christmas markets and winter festivals have been cancelled or postponed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please check the respective websites, refer to government regulations and follow local guidelines before visiting any locations.

Alberta

Market/Festival NameLocationHighlights
Banff Christmas Market100 Sundance Rd., BanffAn outdoor Christmas market with food, drinks, and Santa!
Calgary ZooLights210 St. George’s Dr. NE, CalgaryMany magical-looking lights and art installations.
Lions Festival of LightsConfederation Park, CalgaryA drive-through experience with 500,000 twinkling lights.
Winter Lights FestivalNikka Yuko Japanese GardenA spectacular oasis of lights.

British Columbia

Market/Festival NameLocationHighlights
Vancouver Christmas MarketJack Poole Plaza, 1055 Canada Pl, VancouverAlso known as the German Christmas Market. It has a village setup with 80+ huts. You can enjoy live performances, shopping, music, food, and drinks, and watch the Christmas lights.
Christmas at Canada PlaceCanada Place – 999 Canada Pl, VancouverExperience the nostalgia of Woodward’s Windows, glowing lights, and the Avenue of Trees.
Santa Claus ParadeDowntown VancouverOne of the popular parades in Canada. Watch Santa on his sleigh, along with many other magical floats.
VanDusen Christmas Festival of LightsVandusen Gardens – 5251 Oak St, VancouverA botanical garden that features more than a million lights.
Aurora Winter FestivalThe PNE, 2901 E Hastings St, VancouverCanada’s largest winter festival with plenty to see, do, eat, and drink.
Capilano Canyon LightsCapilano Bridge – 3735 Capilano RdThe North Vancouver Park transforms into a festive sight full of pretty lights and some of the world’s tallest Christmas trees.
Christmas at HycroftHycroft ManorThis is Vancouver’s longest running Christmas market and has been a long time holiday tradition. You can shop and tour the historic Edwardian Hycroft mansion, which is usually closed to the public.

Manitoba

Market/Festival NameLocationHighlights
Winnipeg Santa Claus ParadeBegins at Portage Ave. & Young St. One of the most treasured holiday traditions in Winnipeg. It is also the second largest parade in Canada and the largest nighttime parade in the country.
The Annual ChristkindlmarktHotel Garry Place MallAlso known as the German Christmas Market, it is the oldest running German Christmas Market in Canada. Here, you can find German chocolates, Stolln, Gluehwein (mulled wine) and many other German specialties.
Canad Inns Winter WonderlandRed River Exhibition ParkDrive through a million lights that make up 26 different themed areas.

New Brunswick

Market/Festival NameLocationHighlights
Wild Lights at the Magnetic Hill Zoo125 Magic Mountain Rd, MonctonAn annual fundraiser that transforms the zoo into a sparkling wonderland.
Fredericton’s FrostivalMultiple location, all across the cityAtlantic Canada’s largest winter celebration. It hosts 150+ events with everything from a music festival to an outdoor wonderland to culinary and craft experiences and more.
Various Santa ParadesMultiple locations across the province.Get in the festive mood by watching Santa greet the spectators. Watch a variety of floats and decked up characters.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Market/Festival NameLocationHighlights
Festival of LightsBay RobertsIncludes the largest Nativity scene east of Montreal, the province’s first intelligent light park, fireworks, concerts and two parades – one during the day and another at night.
Downtown St. John’s Christmas ParadeDowntown St. John’sThe largest parade in the province. Get in the holiday spirit by watching Santa and a variety of floats.

Northwest Territories

Market/Festival NameLocationHighlights
Santa Claus ParadeEngle District off Deh Cho Blvd., YellowknifeWatch various decked up floats and meet Santa.

Nova Scotia

Market/Festival NameLocationHighlights
Victorian Christmas at the CitadelHalifax Citadel National Historic SiteWatch costumed staff and learn about what the holidays were like for a Victorian army garrison. Meet Father Christmas and enjoy making Victorian Christmas crafts and dressing up in costumes at the Victorian photo booth.
Halifax Glow Gardens200 Prospect Road, GoodwoodAn indoor winter festival covering almost 90,000 square feet with around a million lights.
Father Christmas FestivalMahone BayThe Winter Gardens Christmas Fantasy display is a spectacle to behold.

Nunavut

Market/Festival NameLocationHighlights
Santa Claus ParadeNakasuk School, IqaluitGet in the festive mood by following the parade, kids can warm up with some hot chocolate and enjoy a visit with Santa.

Ontario

Market/Festival NameLocationHighlights
Cavalcade of LightsNathan Phillips Square, downtown TorontoIllumination of Toronto’s famous Christmas Tree in Nathan Phillips Square. Features performances by some of Canada’s top musical talent, a fireworks show and an outdoor skating party.
Toronto Christmas MarketDistillery DistrictSet in the Distillery Historic District, the Market hosts local craftspeople, artisanal food-makers and spectacular light displays for a truly festive experience.
Aurora Winter FestivalOntario PlaceFilled with captivating light displays, magical characters, amusement rides and plenty of other joyful activities.
Glow Gardens OttawaEY CentreCheck out the vendor market, featuring over 30 local artisans and businesses and explore lighted trails and themed rooms from different countries, including China, India, Holland, Mexico, and more.
Ottawa Christmas MarketCasino Lac-Leamy Plaza at LansdowneExplore traditional vendors with hundreds of unique gift ideas or feast on delightful treats and season drinks.
Ontario Power Generation Winter Festival of LightsClifton Hill, NiagaraCanada’s foremost illumination festival that turns Niagara Falls into a winter wonderland, with over three million sparkling lights along a 8+ km route, grand holiday displays throughout the city, and unique Niagara Falls events.

Prince Edward Island

Market/Festival NameLocationHighlights
The Charlottetown Christmas FestivalAll over the cityIn addition to the festival’s signature event – the Victorian Christmas Market, there will be tons of festive programs like wine tastings, retail trails, historic walking tours, carolers, cooking workshops, ice sculptures, Christmas movies, gingerbread house-making competitions, live music and children’s entertainment.
Christmas Craft FairDelta Convention Centre, CharlottetownThe only juried craft show on the Island with over 40 vendors.

Quebec

Market/Festival NameLocationHighlights
German Christmas MarketJardins de l’Hôtel-de-VilleBinge on delicious traditional products like mulled wine, gingerbread, and grilled sausages, as well as decorative items made for the Holiday Season.
Toboggan, New Year’s EveQuébec CityA four‑day party culminating in spectacular fireworks, performances by folk bands, and sets by well‑known DJs.
Christmas Market at Le Grand Marché250, boulevard Wilfrid-Hamel Québec CityThe perfect place to pick up local goodies for your holiday table. Sign up for a cooking workshop and learn how to prepare traditional dishes. Listen to Christmas stories, watch the folk dancers, or hear carols sung by a local choir.

Saskatchewan

Market/Festival NameLocationHighlights
Saskatoon Santa Claus ParadeSaskatoonA festive parade with many floats and Santa greeting the spectators.
BHP Enchanted ForestForestry Farm Park and ZooOne of the longest-running and best Christmas light shows in Canada.
Light Up the VillageWestern Development MuseumCatch the spirit of the season as the Heritage Village lights up for the holidays.
Christkindl MarktGerman Club, 1727 St John St, ReginaExperience the German Christmas Market with sizzling sausages, sweet pastries, spices and hot spiced gluhwein.
Glow Gardens Saskatoon503 Ruth St W, SaskatoonEnjoy all the magic and splendour of an outdoor festival hosted entirely indoors in a cozy and spacious venue.

Yukon

Market/Festival NameLocationHighlights
12 Days of Christmas Fireweed Community MarketKwanlin Dun Cultural Centre 1171 First Avenue, WhitehorseA local indoor marketplace offering Yukon hand crafted and grown products from over 100 local vendors.

Many local communities often host their own smaller-scale holiday markets in community centres and church halls. Check local fliers and online groups to find one in your community.

The pandemic has affected many schedules, and some events might operate differently than previous years. Be sure to take all necessary precautions and adhere to government protocols so that you and your family can experience the festive season in a safe way.

 

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