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If the thought of a long winter makes you want to hibernate in bed for months, you’re not alone. Canadian winters are long, but thankfully there are plenty of exciting things to see and do across Southwestern Ontario that’ll help shake off the winter blues. From light festivals to outdoor concerts and even wine tasting experiences, this region has something for everyone to enjoy. So grab a cup of hot cocoa, pull up your long-johns and read on to discover eight things you don’t want to miss out on this holiday season.
IF YOU LOVE FESTIVALS: EXPLORE THE NIAGARA WINTER FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
ONGOING UNTIL JANUARY 12, 2020
With displays that include three-dimensional Canadian wildlife, lights at the top of Niagara’s Skylon Tower, the iconic Zimmerman Fountain and over 50 trees wrapped with lights, the Niagara Winter Festival of Lights is sure to make you light up this holiday season. The 8 kilometre trail winds through some of Niagara’s best-loved parks and attractions, including the Dufferin Islands.
IF A CHRISTMAS CAROL IS YOUR GO-TO HOLIDAY READ: EXPERIENCE AN AUTHENTIC VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS
NOVEMBER 23 – DECEMBER 29, 2019
You won’t find any humbugs at Hamilton’s historic Dundurn Castle — guests love visiting this local landmark to see it adorned with cedar boughs, ribbons and dried flowers reminiscent of Victorian times. Carol singing in the front hall and a sampling of traditional Christmas foods are also part of the experience. The castle’s holiday tradition is held every Tuesday to Sunday until the end of the year, with family admission costing only $32.
IF YOU CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF CHRISTMAS MARKETS: GO TO THE CALEDONIA CHRISTMAS JINGLE
NOVEMBER 30, 2019
If the thought of a Christmas market has you as excited as Buddy the Elf was after learning that Santa was coming to town, then you don’t want to miss the Caledonia Christmas Jingle. Located at the Caledonia Fairgrounds, the Christmas Jingle features horse-drawn carriage rides, Christmas carol karaoke, craft activities for kids, a vendors market and plenty of other holiday-themed fun for the whole family.
IF YOU LOVE A SPECTACLE: GO SEE THE BINBROOK PARADE
DECEMBER 1, 2019
For the first time in Binbrook’s history, Santa Claus will be coming to town on Sunday, December 1st. The town’s first annual Santa Claus Parade is set to kick off at 3pm on Binbrook Road, and will stop at the Binbrook Fairgrounds for a tree-lighting ceremony. Click here for the parade route.
IF WINTER WEATHER DOESN’T SLOW YOU DOWN: GO TUBING AT CHICOPEE TUBE PARK
OPENING MID DECEMBER
Ontario is a winter wonderland of sports activities, and Chicopee Tube Park in Kitchener takes their snow tubing seriously. Their tubing hill is 250 feet high and 900 feet long, and has six different chutes so that you’re never waiting long. And for when you need to warm up afterwards, head into their lodge café for some hot chocolate.
IF YOU LIVE FOR HOCKEY: WATCH THE WAYNE GRETZKY HOCKEY TOURNAMENT
DECEMBER 27 – 30, 2019
If you live and breathe hockey, be sure to take a bench seat at the Wayne Gretzky Hockey Tournament in Brantford this year. Started in 1970, the now semi-centennial event brings together local players from all skill levels, from novice to pewee and bantam.
IF YOU LOVE MUSIC: ROCK OUT AT NIAGARA’S NYE BASH
DECEMBER 31, 2019
Ring in the new year in true Canadian fashion by heading over to Queen Victoria Park to see rock icon Bryan Adams headline this year’s New Year’s Eve concert. This widely-popular free outdoor event will also include a performance from Burlington band Walk off the Earth and an impressive fireworks display to usher in 2020.
IF YOU’RE A WINE LOVER: GET YOUR TICKETS FOR THE NIAGARA ICE WINE FESTIVAL
JANUARY 10 – 26, 2020
If you needed another reason to visit Ontario’s wine region, here it is: the Niagara Grape & Wine Festival lets you raise a glass to carefully-curated wine pairings — that include cool-climate grapes like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc — with seasonal cuisine from some of Niagara’s most talented chefs. This event is ripe for the picking, so be sure to get your Discovery Pass ahead of time.