When the chill of winter hits, Canada comes to life with a wide range of wintertime activities, including a range of winter fests that Canadians love to flock to to get into the winter spirit.
With so many winter fests to choose from nationwide, you may not know which ones may be best for you. To help you decide, we’ve outlined the seven best winter festivals in Canada. Maybe more than just one winter fest is best for you and your family!
During the warm months, Ontario’s Canada’s Wonderland acts as a 134-hectare amusement park chock-full of rides, games, and tasty foods. In the wintertime, though, the park closes down and converts into one of the best winter fests in the country.
WinterFest at Canada’s Wonderland runs from November 18 through December 31, giving you ample time to visit, and tickets are affordable at just $29.99 as of 2022. At the WinterFest event, you’ll find ice skating on Snow Flake Lake, over a dozen live shows and holiday entertainments, millions of holiday lights on display, and hundreds of decorated Christmas trees, including two 50-foot trees on International Street.
Other WinterFest activities include a range of holiday-favourite activities, such as writing a letter to Santa, cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus, taking pictures with Santa, and even shopping for gifts for that special someone. There’s even a handful of rides open during the festival for the whole family, including many kid and family rides and even a few thrilling rides, such as Thunder Run, Viking’s Rage, and Wilde Knight Mares.
The Winter Festival of Lights at Niagara Falls takes place from November 12 through February 20, giving families 40 nights total of gorgeous light displays and exciting fireworks shows. And with over 3 million lights on display, there is plenty to see this holiday season.
On top of the lights and fireworks, there are other events at the Winter Festival of Lights, including a falls illumination, the Hot Chocolate Trail, a Santa Claus meet and greet with photos, a historical image contest, a kid’s colouring contest, and so much more.
The Hot Chocolate Trail is a unique draw for the whole family, as you journey down a self-guided trail and encounter various chocolate creations from a range of local chocolatiers, chefs, and mixologists. Along the trail, there are 17 stops and 23 unique flavours to try — both alcoholic and non-alcoholic — so bring your sweet tooth to this winter wonderland.
The Silver Skate Festival, which takes place in early February (February 10-20 in 2023) is a can’t-miss winter event for folks in the Edmonton area. This event celebrates Dutch history with a wide range of events, including fire sculptures, snow sculptures, a folk trail, a heritage village, storytelling, live music, a cinema, and much more, making it great for an entire family day.
There’s also an enormous ice castle built just for the event, horse-drawn sleighs, winter sports like ice skating, snowshoeing and fat biking, and other special events.
At the Carnival, you’ll be treated to a variety of events, such as an urban sliding course, a silent disco, aquafit in a ball-pit swimming pool under an igloo, five evenings at Bonhomme’s Palace, and the all-new Videotron Bonhomme’s Campground. There are also two parades, the Loto-Québec Zone, the Scotiabank Sculptures Snow Route, canoe racing, and the St-Hubert Snow Bath.
To enter the carnival, you’ll need to purchase the Effigy, a pass shaped like the carnival’s mascot, Bonhomme Carnaval. This pass costs $15 during the presale event and $25 afterwards. This pass also includes a winter discount booklet for retailers around Quebec City.
Jasper Alberta is home to the second largest national park in Canada, Jasper National Park. And in winter, the park transforms into a one-stop-shop for wintertime fun in mid-January (January 14-30 in 2023).
At the Jasper in January event, you’ll find sleigh rides, snowshoeing, dog sledding, live music, fireworks to light up the sky, and many other in-person activities for folks of all ages. Other exciting events include downhill skiing, canyon ice walks, ice climbing, and more.
And this community event goes beyond just the national park too, as it spills over into downtown Jasper, where you’ll find delicious restaurants and pubs to enjoy tasty food and drinks.
The Winterlude Festival occurs in Ottawa during the first three weekends in February. At this massive event, you can enjoy skating on the Rideau Canal — the largest outdoor skating rink in the world — which winds through the city’s downtown. Other attractions include numerous ice sculptures, a huge snow playground, and many other artistic and cultural events.
In the old town, you’ll find galleries, museums, and restaurants, giving you plenty of alternatives away from the chilly outdoors. The best part of Winterlude is that entry is free, though you‘ll have to pay for certain attractions and for rental skates if needed.
Montreal en Lumière, which occurs from mid-February through early March (February 16 to March 5 in 2023) is one of the largest winter festivals in the world. This outdoor festival combines all you’d desire from a winter fest, including art, food, culture, theatre, music, and more.
On top of all this, there’s a huge ferris wheel, tons of live shows, curling, and even zip-lining. All told, Montreal en Lumière has over 300 activities and 600 artists participating, making this massive winter fest all the more magical for the whole family.
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