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The Where List: The Best Ways to Get Into the Holiday Spirit

Our editors across the country have come up with the best ways to get into the Christmas and holiday spirit at attractions, venues and events in cities near you. From skiing in the Rockies to old Ebenezer’s spiritual transition, there’s something for everyone.


Up until Jan 3, take a 2.5-km drive through Canad Inns Winter Wonderland, where more than 1 million lights shine throughout 29 themed displays, including a nativity scene, poinsettia arch and flying reindeer.


If you don’t have that Christmas spirit yet, you’re sure to find it at Neptune Theatre on Argyle Street in Halifax. Continuing through Jan 3, it hosts A Christmas Carol: The Musical. The production is drawing great reviews for its festive songs and storytelling with a lavish musical score, beautiful period costumes and beloved characters like Tiny Tim, Jacob Marley, Bob Cratchit and of course, Scrooge.


For those who are hungry for some holiday magic, two seasonal favourites are guaranteed to enchant. On December 12, 16 – 18, the National Ballet of Canada’s renowned production of The Nutcracker takes audiences to a dream world where toys come to life and the Sugar Plum Fairy performs her famous celestial dance. A fairy tale atmosphere also infuses the annual Cavalcade of Lights, which turns Toronto’s neighbourhoods into twinkling tourist attractions. Viewers can head to the main lighting display at Nathan Phillips Square, where they can revel in the fireworks, free concerts and skating parties on Saturday nights all month.


The festive season always makes spirits (and local streets) brighter, with displays of millions of twinkling lights that also raise money for local charities. Both Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge and Bright Nights in Stanley Park support the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund. The Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden raises money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. And the Lights of Hope bring in much-needed funds for St. Paul’s Hospital. This winter, the Lights of Hope will remain lit long after the last fruitcake is consumed, during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in February and March.


Entertain energetic youngsters with free mini golf and bouncy castles during the Whistler Holiday Experience Dec 18 – 24 and 26 – 30. Santa visits on Dec 19 and 20 to find out who’s been naughty or nice.


In Victoria, there’s no better place to take in a little holiday spirit than the world-famous Butchart Gardens, dressed in thousands of twinkling lights and seasonal decorations through the New Year. Enjoy holiday entertainment, refreshments, the “Twelve Days of Christmas” displayed throughout the gardens and brand new this year, the Rose Carousel in the Children’s Pavilion.

Canadian Rockies

Canadian Rockies snow embodies the holiday spirit—watch for Santa at the ski areas. Or check out the annual Banff Community Christmas Concert to get you in the mood Dec 16 and 17 (free, ticket required, 403-762-6301); or Jasper’s Festival of Trees at the Jasper-Yellowhead Museum until Dec 18 where the community’s creative flair is expressed through wonderfully decorated trees—both events accept donations to help spread holiday joy to those in need.


During Christmas Lights Across Canada, Ottawa is aglow with over 300,000 vibrant lights. Over 60 sites along Confederation Boulevard—museums, monuments, hotels—are lit up in a wash of colour.


Once the sun goes down, the Calgary Zoo gets transformed into Zoolights, one of Western Canada’s largest light displays with over 1.5 million lights in the shapes of zoo animals, holiday icons and even the Calgary Flames symbol. Kids can chat live with Santa Claus in the North Pole with “SantaVision,” or head over to specially designed plays areas like Snowball Alley and Snigloo, where they can make their own igloo. For more ideas, check out our feature 12 Days of Christmas in Calgary.


Dickens’ holiday classic  A Christmas Carol , celebrates its’ tenth anniversary at the Citadel Theatre. Experience the warmth, the magic and the spectacle of Tom Wood’s inspiring adaptation of this holiday favourite running until Dec 23 at Citadel Theatre.

One response to “The Where List: The Best Ways to Get Into the Holiday Spirit”

  1. Marisa says:

    Great idea for an article!

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