Christmas in Canada has got to be the most beautiful ever. There are endless Canadian Christmas traditions to keep up with. Even before Christmas day, different parts of Canada get into the holiday season, and it’s a sight for sore eyes.
As a country that spans six time zones and embraces various cultures, you can bet there are some unique ways Canadians enjoy the holidays. You can enjoy quaint Christmas shopping, a festive light display, or a one-of-a-kind New Year’s Eve party; it’s all here.
From coast to coast, each city puts its spin on the Christmas season. So, while grabbing a Christmas tree, think of how you would love to spend Christmas. This post delineates how every city celebrates the holiday to help you make the right decision.
Vancouver is a winter wonderland, especially at Christmas time. Between the coastal mountains and Stanley Park festivities, you’ll never run out of holiday adventures.
For starters, British Columbia Christmas tree farms make the finest trees! So, Christmas tree shopping should be first on your list if you don’t already have one.
Furthermore, Stanley Park sparkles with over a million lights strung throughout the gardens and scenic walking paths. Feel free to take an evening stroll and soak in the magical atmosphere. Can’t get enough? Hop on a horse-drawn carriage ride for a leisurely tour of the sparkling displays.
If shopping’s on your nice list, head to Robson Street or Gastown to browse boutiques and support local artisans at the Christmas Market. Just ensure you confirm the holiday store hours while making your plans. For a sweet treat, grab a hot cocoa at Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France or Beaucoup Bakery.
If you fancy outdoor activities, strap on skates, glide across the Robson Square Ice Rink, or snowshoe on Cypress Mountain. For panoramic city views, hop the Skyride gondola up Grouse Mountain, where Santa’s waiting in his mountaintop chalet.
Whether you prefer mingling under the mistletoe at lively holiday parties or cozying up for a movie marathon, Vancouver at Christmas offers something for everyone. With natural beauty as a backdrop for seasonal festivities around every snow-dusted corner, it’s easy to get into the winter spirit in this Pacific Northwest gem.
If there’s one city that embodies the Christmas spirit, it’s Toronto. Shopping? Or skating to see Santa? Hogtown has you covered.
First up, shopping! With massive malls like the Eaton Center and Yorkdale, you’ll find everything on your list and then some. Or check out the Distillery District Christmas Market for special local goods in a historical setting. Don’t miss the charming St. Lawrence Market either, open since 1803.
Next, lace up your skates and hit the ice at one of the city’s many rinks. The most famous is at Nathan Phillips Square, with its iconic Toronto sign. Glide under twinkling lights as festive tunes fill the air. The Harbourfront Center rink and Evergreen Brick Works rink offer a magical skating experience.
Finally, meet the big man in red! The Santa Claus Parade kicks off the season with floats, bands, and Saint Nick himself. Or visit Santa’s Workshop at St. Lawrence Market, the Marché de Noël in the Distillery District, or Santa’s Grotto at the Eaton Center.
Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, embraces Christmas with classic holiday traditions. If you’re looking for an old-fashioned Christmas vibe, Ottawa is the perfect place to visit during the most wonderful time of the year.
The Parliament buildings are illuminated with over 300,000 twinkling Christmas lights for the holidays. Take an evening stroll down the Rideau Canal skateway, also aglow with lights, for a magical winter experience. Major streets like Bank Street and Sparks Street are decked out in festive decor and Christmas trees to get you in the Christmas spirit as you shop.
Browse local crafts and taste delicious food at one of Ottawa’s charming Christmas markets. The longest-running market is the Ottawa Christmas Market, open on weekends in December at Lansdowne Park. Over 175 artisans offer unique handmade goods, while food vendors serve tasty treats like mini donuts, poutine, and hot apple cider.
Ottawa’s world-class museums host special exhibits and events for the holidays. Check out the Canadian Museum of History for its annual “Canadian Christmas Traditions” display. The Canada Science and Technology Museum has fun, hands-on craft activities for kids. Moreover, the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian War Museum also offer festive programs.
Another option is to go for a spin on the Rideau Canal Skateway, one of the largest skating rinks in the world, almost 5 miles long. For outdoor adventures, try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing on groomed trails in Gatineau Park across the river in Quebec.
With stunning light displays, Christmas markets, seasonal museum events, and outdoor winter activities, Ottawa provides an idyllic backdrop for a classic Canadian Christmas getaway.
Montreal brings a taste of France to the holidays with its French-Canadian traditions and European vibe. Here are a few ideas to consider:
Marché De Noël
Get into the holiday spirit at Montreal’s Christmas Market, open from late November through December. Browse gifts from local artisans like maple syrup, poutine kits, and Canadian crafts. Kids can meet Santa and his real reindeer, then take a spin on the antique carousel.
Cathedral Light Show
Notre Dame Basilica puts on a spectacular sound and light show several times per evening in December. The Gothic Revival cathedral is bathed in colorful lights that dance across its architecture in time with Christmas music. The 30-minute show is a must-see holiday tradition for Montrealers and visitors alike.
If you visit Montreal with little ones, there’s no shortage of kid-friendly Christmas activities. Go skating at the Atrium Le 1000 ice rink, take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the city, or catch a Cirque du Soleil show.
Many Montreal museums have special Christmas craft workshops and events for children. And, of course, Santa’s Village amusement park is open on weekends for rides, games, and meeting Santa Claus himself.
But, of course, you can indulge in biblical-centered therapy with your family by attending a Christmas service. After all, you don’t want to miss the reason for the season!
Food and Drink
No Montreal Christmas is complete without indulging in delicious food and drink. Try tourtière, a meat pie usually eaten on Christmas Eve, or bûche de Noël, a log-shaped cake rolled with chocolate buttercream. Wash it all down with a glass of caribou, a traditional wintertime alcoholic drink of red wine, brandy, and maple syrup. Don’t forget it’s a season of love, and you can extend some form of generosity by helping the fatherless or less privileged! Trust us; it’s one tradition that never gets old.
Montreal brings all the magic of a European Christmas to Canada with its blend of French traditions and winter activities.
From the Christmas Market to dazzling light shows and classic Québécois cuisine, you’ll find no shortage of ways to celebrate the season in this charming city.
Bundle Up in Winnipeg
Winnipeggers know how to celebrate Christmas despite the frigid temperatures! Go to The Forks National Historic Site for the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train. This decked-out locomotive rolls into town with live music, treats, and a chance to donate to the local food bank.
The city sparkles with over 2 million lights strung throughout Assiniboine Park Zoo, including the colorful displays of Candy Cane Lane and Polar Bear’s Cove. Stroll through the zoo while enjoying the magical winter scenery and warming up with hot cocoa.
For indoor fun, catch a show at the Royal Manitoba Theater Center or check out the special holiday exhibits at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
Calgary has no shortage of Christmas spirit, with many festive events around the city. Catch the seasonal shows at Heritage Park Historical Village or the annual production of The Nutcracker by Alberta Ballet. Zoom down the luge track at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park for some winter thrill-seeking.
The best part is Stephen Ave Walk sparkles with over 1 million lights during the annual Lights of Christmas festival. This scenic view is stunning and puts you in a Christmas mood.
Most Calgarians celebrate Christmas on December 25th with church services for a biblical balance of the holiday season. Afterward, people spend the day opening presents and gathering for dinner. A traditional meal includes turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce, washed with a cold glass of eggnog.
Santa Claus drops by on his sleigh, pulled by four horses to deliver gifts!
Get Ready For Christmas In Canada
Canadians know how to celebrate Christmas from coast to coast. Whether you prefer taking in stunning light displays or strolling through charming Christmas markets, you can thoroughly enjoy Christmas in Canada.
The delicious food, festive decorations, and time spent with loved ones make the season unique in cities across Canada.
No matter which traditions you choose to participate in, one thing is sure – you will have fun!