By Katie May
Canada is a winter-loving nation that goes all out for the holiday season. From festive decorations to lively parades and celebrations, Christmas Day in Canada is a big deal. If you are fortunate enough to spend Christmas in Canada, there are a few specific places to gather some extraordinary Canadian celebratory experiences. This list will tell you about the unique Christmas experience that each place offers. So start planning for the big day!
When Does Canada Celebrate Christmas?
Every year on December 25, Canadians, like many other countries throughout the world, celebrate Christmas. However, there are several factors that distinguish a Canadian Christmas. People from many walks of life call Canada home. Each adds their own culture and customs to Canada. As a result, Canadian Christmas traditions are a distinctive blend of many traditions from throughout the world.
Is Christmas Day a Public Holiday in Canada?
Christmas is a public holiday. The general public has the day off, while schools and most businesses are closed.
How Do They Celebrate Christmas In Canada?
Christmas Day in Canada is a festive and joyous occasion celebrated with various Christmas traditions and customs. Here are some common ways in which Christmas is celebrated in Canada:
- Decorations: Canadians decorate their homes with Christmas trees, lights, wreaths, and ornaments. Many families also have an Advent calendar to count the days until Christmas.
- Gift Giving: Exchanging gifts is a central part of Canadian Christmas celebrations. People exchange presents with family and friends, and children eagerly anticipate gifts from Santa Claus.
- Santa Claus: The tradition of Santa Claus (or Père Noël in French-speaking regions) is widespread. Children write letters to Santa, and in some places, you can even visit Santa at shopping malls.
- Holiday Food: Traditional Christmas meals often include turkey or ham, along with side dishes like stuffing, mashed potatoes, and vegetables. Tourtière, a meat pie, is a popular dish in Quebec.
- Carol Singing: Carolers go door-to-door singing Christmas carols. Many communities also organize carol-singing events.
- Holiday Parades: Cities and towns across Canada hold Christmas parades with floats, music, and festive decorations. The Rogers Santa Claus Parade in Vancouver and Toronto's Santa Claus Parade are well-known examples.
Top 5 Best Place To Spend Christmas In Canada
Discover the magic of a Canadian Christmas! From enchanting winter wonderlands to festive city lights, Canada offers an array of top-notch destinations to celebrate the holiday season. Explore our top 5 best places to spend Christmas in Canada and uncover a wealth of things to do in Christmas in Canada while making unique memories in a snowy, joy-filled atmosphere.
1. Toronto: Santa Claus Parade
With over 500,000 visitors each year, Canada's largest city hosts the world's largest Santa Claus Parade. The Distillery Winter Village is a unique experience in the Distillery District, combining charming cottages and magnificent lights. The Toronto Zoo Marketplace, which mixes merchants and attractive picture opportunities, will be open until Christmas Eve. The Square is home to City Hall, the Toronto sign, a Christmas tree, a skating rink, and a Fair. Part Christmas market, part carnival, you may browse for unusual presents, ride a carousel, go ice skating, or have a festive beverage at the ice bar.
Best Christmas events in Toronto
The Distillery Winter Village
The winter village in Toronto's historic Distillery District will feature outdoor vendor cabins selling carefully curated seasonal products and presents, as well as scrumptious, can't-miss culinary cabins.
Cavalcade of Lights
During the Cavalcade of Lights celebration, the magnificent Christmas tree in Nathan Phillips Square is lit up. You may not only bask in the brightness of thousands of energy-efficient bulbs that illuminate the center of downtown Toronto, but you can also enjoy ice skating on the massive rink.
Toronto hosts the world's largest Santa Claus Parade every year
2. Ottawa: Christmas Carols
The Christmas Lights Across Canada illumination event starts off the holiday season in Canada's capital. Other must-see events include the National Gallery of Canada's Christmas tree lighting, which includes a 12-metre tree, chocolate, and free gallery admission. When temperatures drop low enough (usually around January), people put on ice skates and glide along the picturesque Rideau Canal - Ontario's only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Canada and the world's only naturally frozen skating rink.
Best Christmas events in Ottawa
Ottawa Christmas Market
The Ottawa Christmas Market is one of the top festive attractions in the city because you can enjoy live music, sample local and international food and drink, attend events such as silent discos and a special gig celebrating indigenous music, or simply go shopping for a Christmas gift.
Carp Farmers’ Market
If you are a foodie, the Carp Farmer's Market is a must-see. It is the biggest producer-based farmers' market in Eastern Ontario, with over 100 merchants selling vegetables, baked products, and crafts. Their Christmas Market is ideal for picking up fantastic Christmas snacks or gifts.
Members of the Nepean Choir sing Christmas carols in the Byward Market
3. Quebec City: Snowy Serenity
Quebec City in the winter is incomparable - as near to a perfect Hallmark movie set as you'll find and as close to Europe as you can go for a Christmas in Canada. Old Québec is turned into a Dickensian Christmas town. The snow and lights sparkle against the backdrop of Canada's most historic buildings. With its cobblestone streets, old-world beauty, and French-Canadian culture, it has that magical wow factor that makes vacations here such a great time of year. In the city, you'll discover nativity scenes, Christmas markets, carnivals, parades, skating, and all you need for a Quebecois Christmas.
The best Christmas events in Québec City
German Christmas Market
With its atmosphere, beautiful decorations, traditional wooden kiosks, selection of delicious German treats, Christmas gifts, choral singing, and indoor and outdoor performances, the German Christmas Market recreates European markets in the heart of Old Québec.
Christmas tours of Québec City
Walking excursions like Cicérone excursions might help you uncover Christmas traditions from the past. On the trip, you will see all of the magnificent Christmas decorations that are on display across the city, as well as learn more about the city's history. From Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church in Place Royale to the end of Rue du Petit-Champlain, the region is transformed into a winter paradise with various beautiful Christmas lights.
The Petit-Champlain at Lower Old Town at night on Christmas event
4. Vancouver: Parade Of Lights
Vancouver shines bright during the holiday season with the world's giant Christmas light maze, Enchant. Explore 55,000 sq ft of holiday sculptures, discover Santa's missing reindeer, and savor treats from 14 food trucks. Enjoy classic Vancouver Christmas events like meeting Santa at Grouse Mountain, free ice skating at Robson Square, and the festive Vancouver Christmas Market. Don't forget the dazzling light displays at Capilano Suspension Bridge. Be sure to hop aboard the Bright Nights train in Stanley Park, marking a joyous return to in-person festivities after the pandemic.
Best Christmas events in Vancouver
The Canyon Lights
Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park has returned! While this renowned bridge is a must-see while visiting Vancouver. The bridge is illuminated from end to end with a dynamic multi-color show, while the Capilano River is lit below. The rainforest around the bridge twinkles from treetop to forest floor, and you may stroll through the magnificent 'Arc de Lumina' light tunnel.
VanDusen Festival of Lights
The VanDusen Festival of Lights, which transforms Vancouver's most extensive botanical garden into a winter wonderland, is one of the city's most famous Christmas attractions. Over a million lights decorate the gardens' 15 acres, with varied themes as you pass around. You may also enjoy tasty food and merry music throughout your stay!
Best Christmas lights decoration house and light display in Metro Vancouver
5. Montreal: Magical Snowfall
Montreal is another Canadian city that is bitterly cold during the holiday season yet lovely, particularly Old Montreal. You must visit the Pepin Shop, a one-of-a-kind old-town treasure. The shop is stocked with local items and is a tribute to calm, attractive interior design and natural products. There are a variety of lovely gifts available for an unplanned Christmas shopping excursion. Even if you're not in the mood to shop, you may open your eyes and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere.
Best Christmas events in Montréal
Holiday Alley in Old Montréal
Holiday Alley in Old Montréal has become a top-rated destination for locals and visitors in recent years. The Pepin Shop (Maison Pepin) decorates an alleyway in Old Montréal with Christmas decorations. You can then go shopping for gifts for friends and relatives.
Merry Montréal (Montréal En Fetes)
The Merry Montréal event provides free activities in Old Montréal, allowing you to enjoy the joy of the Christmas season. Nordic Square will put you in the holiday spirit with musical performances, heated warm-up zones, interactive light installations, and a sampling bar of Québec's best goods. Merry Montréal also hosts some of the city's major New Year's Eve events.
Santa Claus arrives in the 67th Santa Claus Parade on Saint Catherine Street
What are some popular Christmas traditions in Canada?
Christmas traditions in Canada are a mix of old-world traditions and current North American habits. Here are five festive traditions to participate in this season:
Take in a Christmas festival or parade
Christmas parades and festivals are widespread in Canadian cities and villages. Many of these events take place before or after Christmas Day to keep the festive spirit alive throughout the season. One of the most renowned parades is the Santa Claus Parade in Toronto, which features floats, marching bands, and even Santa Claus himself. Other major cities, like as St. Johns, Calgary, and Winnipeg, have their own Santa Claus parades that draw large crowds. To commemorate the season, you may also attend the Quebec Winter Carnival at the end of January, the Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls, or the VanDusen Festival of Lights in Vancouver.
Have fun in the snow
Canadians enjoy the winter season by participating in outdoor activities such as tobogganing, skiing, and snowshoeing. Popular outdoor ice skating rinks during the holidays include the Rideau Canal Skateway in Ottawa and the Place D'Youville skating rink in Quebec City. If you want to relive some of your favorite childhood memories, take an old sled and find a nice snow-capped hill to slide down.
Attend a Christmas Mass
Because Canada is largely Christian, many Canadians prefer to spend Christmas Eve at church with their families. Most Canadian churches will open their doors to parishioners and tourists for their traditional Christmas service. Beautiful churches may be found throughout Canada for anyone who choose to attend a service. Some prominent churches may demand tickets for their Christmas Eve services, so make sure you get one if necessary.
Playing and watching sports
Watching or participating in winter sports is a cherished tradition in Canada. Playing hockey in a frozen pond or participating in a local hockey game is a common activity during the holiday season. The NHL no longer has games on Christmas Day, and since the CEBL and CFL are both off-season, many Canadians watch NBA or NFL games on Christmas Day.
Christmas Day in Canada is not just a holiday; it's a celebration of traditions, kindness, and the beauty of winter. Do you want to travel and have an experience to keep for yourself? Let's apply for a Canada ETA online using Canada Immigration Services' streamlined online application method. Checking your eligibility is the first step in determining what you need to prepare before beginning your visa registration. Don't delay any longer; let's start your journey right away!