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.|
|Banff Christmas Market||100 Sundance Rd., Banff||An outdoor Christmas market with food, drinks, and Santa!|
|Calgary ZooLights||210 St. George’s Dr. NE, Calgary||Many magical-looking lights and art installations.|
|Lions Festival of Lights||Confederation Park, Calgary||A drive-through experience with 500,000 twinkling lights.|
|Winter Lights Festival||Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden||A spectacular oasis of lights.|
|Vancouver Christmas Market||Jack Poole Plaza, 1055 Canada Pl, Vancouver||Also 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 Place||Canada Place – 999 Canada Pl, Vancouver||Experience the nostalgia of Woodward’s Windows, glowing lights, and the Avenue of Trees.|
|Santa Claus Parade||Downtown Vancouver||One of the popular parades in Canada. Watch Santa on his sleigh, along with many other magical floats.|
|VanDusen Christmas Festival of Lights||Vandusen Gardens – 5251 Oak St, Vancouver||A botanical garden that features more than a million lights.|
|Aurora Winter Festival||The PNE, 2901 E Hastings St, Vancouver||Canada’s largest winter festival with plenty to see, do, eat, and drink.|
|Capilano Canyon Lights||Capilano Bridge – 3735 Capilano Rd||The North Vancouver Park transforms into a festive sight full of pretty lights and some of the world’s tallest Christmas trees.|
|Christmas at Hycroft||Hycroft Manor||This 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.|
|Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade||Begins 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 Christkindlmarkt||Hotel Garry Place Mall||Also 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 Wonderland||Red River Exhibition Park||Drive through a million lights that make up 26 different themed areas.|
|Wild Lights at the Magnetic Hill Zoo||125 Magic Mountain Rd, Moncton||An annual fundraiser that transforms the zoo into a sparkling wonderland.|
|Fredericton’s Frostival||Multiple location, all across the city||Atlantic 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 Parades||Multiple 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
|Festival of Lights||Bay Roberts||Includes 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 Parade||Downtown St. John’s||The largest parade in the province. Get in the holiday spirit by watching Santa and a variety of floats.|
|Santa Claus Parade||Engle District off Deh Cho Blvd., Yellowknife||Watch various decked up floats and meet Santa.|
|Victorian Christmas at the Citadel||Halifax Citadel National Historic Site||Watch 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 Gardens||200 Prospect Road, Goodwood||An indoor winter festival covering almost 90,000 square feet with around a million lights.|
|Father Christmas Festival||Mahone Bay||The Winter Gardens Christmas Fantasy display is a spectacle to behold.|
|Santa Claus Parade||Nakasuk School, Iqaluit||Get in the festive mood by following the parade, kids can warm up with some hot chocolate and enjoy a visit with Santa.|
|Cavalcade of Lights||Nathan Phillips Square, downtown Toronto||Illumination 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 Market||Distillery District||Set in the Distillery Historic District, the Market hosts local craftspeople, artisanal food-makers and spectacular light displays for a truly festive experience.|
|Aurora Winter Festival||Ontario Place||Filled with captivating light displays, magical characters, amusement rides and plenty of other joyful activities.|
|Glow Gardens Ottawa||EY Centre||Check 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 Market||Casino Lac-Leamy Plaza at Lansdowne||Explore traditional vendors with hundreds of unique gift ideas or feast on delightful treats and season drinks.|
|Ontario Power Generation Winter Festival of Lights||Clifton Hill, Niagara||Canada’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
|The Charlottetown Christmas Festival||All over the city||In 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 Fair||Delta Convention Centre, Charlottetown||The only juried craft show on the Island with over 40 vendors.|
|German Christmas Market||Jardins de l’Hôtel-de-Ville||Binge 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 Eve||Québec City||A four‑day party culminating in spectacular fireworks, performances by folk bands, and sets by well‑known DJs.|
|Christmas Market at Le Grand Marché||250, boulevard Wilfrid-Hamel Québec City||The 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.|
|Saskatoon Santa Claus Parade||Saskatoon||A festive parade with many floats and Santa greeting the spectators.|
|BHP Enchanted Forest||Forestry Farm Park and Zoo||One of the longest-running and best Christmas light shows in Canada.|
|Light Up the Village||Western Development Museum||Catch the spirit of the season as the Heritage Village lights up for the holidays.|
|Christkindl Markt||German Club, 1727 St John St, Regina||Experience the German Christmas Market with sizzling sausages, sweet pastries, spices and hot spiced gluhwein.|
|Glow Gardens Saskatoon||503 Ruth St W, Saskatoon||Enjoy all the magic and splendour of an outdoor festival hosted entirely indoors in a cozy and spacious venue.|
|12 Days of Christmas Fireweed Community Market||Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre 1171 First Avenue, Whitehorse||A 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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