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16 December Festivals Across Canada

Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge. Photo by Tyler Ingram

By Kristina Breckon

Grab your parka and your toque and explore Canada this month. Following is a list of events across the country that are guaranteed to get even the biggest Scrooge into the holiday spirit.

Festivals are listed in chronological order.

Woodstock Victorian Christmas
Woodstock, New Brunswick
Be transported back in time with a rotating calendar of weekend events from the Festival of Lights to a Victorian Christmas concert. Nov. 18–Dec. 20; 506-325-9049 for information.

Gingerbread houses at Stanley Park's Bright Nights. Photo by sonson.

European Union Film Festival
Ottawa, Ontario
Catch movies from the 27 EU Member States during this 17-day festival in the nation’s capital. Nov. 27–Dec. 4.

Whistler Film Festival
Whistler, British Columbia
Enjoy screenings of films from around the world at this five-day festival. If movies aren’t your thing there are plenty of other activities, from ski races to celeb-spotting, to keep you busy. Nov. 30–Dec 4.

Canmore Festival of Trees
Canmore, Alberta
Now in its second year, this festival in the Canadian Rockies is an enchanting forest of decorated tress and lights at the Canmore Golf & Curling Club. Saturday night features a Spirits of Christmas party for adults. Children of all ages can dine with Santa Sunday morning. Dec. 1–Dec. 4.

Lighted path at Luminaria. Photo by JMR64.

Mummers Festival
St. John’s, Newfoundland
The 18 days of events and workshops—where you can learn how to make an “ugly stick”—culminates in the wild Mummers Parade. Visitors are encouraged to grab whatever they have around to create a disguise and join in the parade festivities rather than sitting on the sidelines! Dec. 1–Dec. 18

Bright Nights at Stanley Park
Vancouver, British Columbia
More than one million lights illuminate Stanley Park during this monthlong event to raise money for BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund. Hop on the train that runs through the park, taking in the light displays. Dec. 1–Jan. 2.

Carlyle Dickens Festival
Carlyle, Saskatchewan
Step back in time with this Dickens-themed festival. Carollers wander the streets and an evening parade lights up the night. Dec. 2–Dec. 3; 306-453-2363 for information.

Bright Nights at Stanley Park display. Photo by Dixon Tam.

Watson Santa Claus Days
Watson, Saskatchewan
This year marks the 80th anniversary of this family-friendly festival. You can’t miss the 25-foot-tall Santa greeting you as you enter town. Dec. 2–Dec. 3; 306-287-3636 for information.

Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge
North Vancouver, British Columbia
Make your way along the cliffside walkway at the Capilano Suspension Bridge and be treated to a gorgeous light display. For those that are brave at heart, the view from the suspension bridge its self is spectacular. Dec. 2-Jan. 1.

Old Montreal Extravaganza fireworks. Photo by Nicolas Grevet.

Burlington Festival of Lights
Burlington, Ontario
With 12,000 feet of tube lighting, a Tree of Hope covered in 3,950 individual lights and 24 gallons of hot chocolate served, this southern Ontario event is one of Canada’s largest lights festivals. is the place to be in southern Ontario to make some festive memories. Dec. 4–Jan. 12.

Old Montreal Extravaganza
Montreal, Quebec
The Extravaganza is a collection of indoor and outdoor events for most of the month of December. It includes music performances, walking tours uncovering the secrets of Old Montreal Christmases past and a Christmas Village. The festival culminates in a spectacular fireworks show over Old Montreal. Dec. 9–31.

Winter Wonderland
Austin, Manitoba
The Manitoba Agricultural Museum’s Pioneer Village is all lit up for this annual event. Bring your skates to take advantage of the outdoor rink while you wait for your turn with Santa. Dec. 10, 11, 17 and 18.

Edmonton, Alberta
Stroll through the paths at the Kurimoto Japanese Garden, guided by the light of thousands of candles. Travelling singers, bonfires and Snow Sprites help to make this nighttime event even more magical. Dec. 10 and 11.

Puppet at the Kensington Winter Solstice. Photo by Eric Parker.

Assiniboine Valley Railway Christmas Light Run
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Take a ride on a miniature train through 7 acres of magically lit forest at this kid-friendly attraction. Lighted foot paths are also an option for those who wish to explore by foot. Dec. 10–Jan. 8.

Kensington Market Winter Solstice
Toronto, Ontario
Every year on the longest, darkest night of winter, hearty souls gather for a lantern festival with music, drumming and colourful puppets provided by a theatrical group in Toronto’s eclectic Kensington Market. Lantern-making workshop Dec. 12; festival Dec. 21.

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