The 12 Festivals of Christmas: Discover Canada’s Top Winter Wonderland Festivals

It may be cold out but Canada’s Winter Festivals are about to heat up over the next few months. We’ve compiled our top ten not-to-be-missed Canadian Winter Festivals. So pack your warmest jacket and scarf and bundle up these holidays for an exceptional Canadian winter getaway. 

Whether it's outdoor ice skating, winter parades, Christmas markets, music, or delectable treats, Canada has something for everyone, the outdoor enthusiast and foodie alike. So why not get your Canadian visa application started today and book those tickets so that you can enjoy these holiday festivities. In true Canadian style. 

Below are our top 12 Canadian Winter Festivals to add to your holiday itinerary:

  1. Winterlude, Ottawa (February 1-18, 2019)
  2. Fête des Neiges, Montreal (Weekends from January 19 – February 10, 2019)
  3. Rossland Winter Carnival, Rossland B.C. (January 24-27, 2019)
  4. Jasper in January, Jasper (Weekends from January 10-27, 2019)
  5. SnowDays - Ice Magic Festival, Lake Louise (January 16-27, 2019)
  6. Montréal en Lumière, Montreal (February 21 to March 3, 2019)
  7. World Ski & Snowboard Festival, Whistler (April 10-14, 2019)
  8. Aurora Winter Festival, Toronto and Vancouver (November 29/23 – December 30, 2018)
  9. Toronto Christmas Market, Toronto (November 15 – December 23, 2018)
  10. WinterFest, Canada’s Wonderland (Starting November 2019)
  11. Carnaval de Quebec, Quebec City
  12. Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous (February 7-23 2020)

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1. Winterlude, Ottawa

Winterlude ice sculpture

Winterlude is a 3 week-long event, with activities for all ages. You can skate along the Rideau Canal, the world’s largest outdoor skating rink, enjoy eclectic concerts, take part in a bed race, or marvel over phenomenal ice sculptures. Be sure not to miss the Ice Dragon Boat Festival or Snowflake kingdom, if you have kids. Whatever it is you’re looking for, Winterlude promises to be nothing short of a winter playground. 

2. Fête des Neiges, Montreal

Fete Neiges de Montreal 2020

Fête des Neiges, takes place over 4 consecutive weekends, where you can enjoy anything from dog sledding, snow tubing, skating and ice carving, to local and international culinary delights served up by some of Canada’s finest food trucks.

If you’re searching for something a little less traditional on your stay in Montreal, you may want to check out Igloofest, an electronic music festival that draws tens of thousands of visitors every year. It takes place over 4 weeks, from January 16 - February 8 (for a total of 12 nights), in Old Port. So if you’re keen on taking the party outdoors, then Igloofest is not to be missed. 

3. Rossland Winter Carnival

Rossland Winter Carnival

Rossland Winter Carnival is Canada’s oldest winter festival, dating back to 1898. This quaint weekend festival hosts fire spinners, a parade, an ice palace, live music, as well as a bobsled race through the middle of town. Be sure not to miss the Fireman’s pancake breakfast and mingle with the locals or grab a ‘frosty’ at Olaus Ice Palace Beer Gardens.  

4. Jasper in January

people laughing jasper in january

Jasper in January is a 3-weekend long festival. Activities vary every year, however, you can look forward to experience the likes of skiing down powdery slopes, ice skating, snowshoe adventures photographic tours/walks, dog sledding, and of course awesome street parties, free live music and comedy shows, the whiskey, Wine & Hops Festival, and delicious eats to curb your winter cravings. Be sure not to miss the kick-off party on January 17th!

5. Snow Days - Ice Magic Festival, Lake Louise

snowydays ice magic festival canada

Snow Days is an annual celebration that draws artists from across the globe to take part in its international ice sculpting competition at Ice Magic Festival. When your done ogling ice and snow sculptures are sure to take in the breathtaking sights in the region and enjoy some hiking, snowshoeing, or skiing or simply unwind and enjoy signature cocktails and local culinary dishes against the backdrop of the magnificent Canadian Rockies and Lake Louise situated in Banff National Park. 

6. Montréal en Lumière

Montreal en lumiere festival canada

Montréal en Lumière or Montréal High Lights Festival is a spectacular outdoor event. It is one of the world’s largest winter festivals, attracting over 900,000 people every year to the heart of Montreal. You can enjoy over 100 concerts, live theatre, jugglers and acrobats, and gastronomy at its finest when you dine at your choice of over 200 food and wine events. Its highlight has to be ”Illuminart”, an interactive outdoor display of light, art, and technology. Be sure not to miss the art exhibitions of Nuit Blanche, which takes place over 150 sites across the city.   

7. World Ski & Snowboard Festival

World Ski & Snowboard Festival

The upcoming World Ski & Snowboard Festival will be brought to you by Gibbons in 2020. Held in Whistler, this winter festival will not disappoint, bringing you amazing collaborations between athletes, musicians, artists, entrepreneurs, and the community as a whole. It draws massive crowds every year and if the previous event is anything to go by, promises free outdoor concerts (including a silent concert), fashion and photography exhibitions as well as a filmmaker showcase, to add to the wide range of entertainment.  

Another winter festival located in Whistler is Winter Gay Pride which features activities and celebrations such as ski and snowboard tours, snowmobile or snowshoe adventures, and zip trekking. You can also go dog-sledding through the Callaghan Valley, or indulge in the festival’s nightlife including elaborate drag shows and costume parties as well as wine-tastings, fine dining, and comedy shows.  

8. Aurora Winter Festival

Aurora Winter Festival

Aurora Winter Festival, held in both Toronto and Vancouver, is a magical wonderland. You can visit the Santa’s Workshop in the North Pole, a world of mystical forests and characters, or take a stroll through the food and Christmas market and shop artisanal treats to your heart content. Other activities include tube rides in Tube Park, Amusement rides, ice skating on a frozen pond, or enjoy some live entertainment. This is the perfect family getaway and the whimsical at heart.  

9. Toronto Christmas Market

Toronto Christmas Market is an award-winning local market that takes place in the Toronto Distillery District. Iconic festivities include activities such as dance performances, Santa appearances, brass bands, magical lighting displays, and traditional caroling. You can also sample a variety of beers, Christmas cocktails, mulled wine, and a selection of handcrafted sweet treats and artisan items.  

10. WinterFest

Winterfest 2020

WinterFest, turning Canada’s Wonderland amusement park into an immersive winter festival filled with family-friendly activities such as ice skating on the Snow Flake Lake ice rink, a night lighting ceremony, enjoy over a dozen live shows, meet 20 new Winterfest characters, visit 8 whimsical Winterfest worlds and much much more. Be sure to visit Candy Cane Lane, Charlie Brown’s Christmas Town, Tinsel Town, and the North Pole to mail your letters to Santa. Your kids will love you forever!  

11. Carnaval de Quebec

Carnaval de Quebec

Carnaval de Quebec is the largest winter festival in the world, ranking up there with the likes of Rio and New Orleans. You can take your pick of exciting activities such as dog sledding, canoe and sleigh racing, ice sculptures, the night parade which attracts thousands of festival-goers each year as well as discover Bonhomme, the official representative of Carnaval and the epitome of joie de vivre of Quebecers.

12. The Winter Festival of Lights, Niagara Falls

The Winter Festival of Lights Niagara Falls

The Winter Festival of Lights is a spectacular display of over 120 light illuminated displays and entices over 1 million attendees every year. The festival hosts a range of activities and events including the infamous Zimmerman Fountain, the awe-inspiring Fireworks over the Falls,15 3D Canadian Wildlife displays, the iconic illuminated Skylon Tower, over 50 trees decorated in sparkling lights in Dufferin Islands, Santa's Village, the Candlelight Stroll, a Christmas concert series and much, much more. For a truly magical experience, be sure not to miss the opening ceremony in Queen Victoria Park. 

Other notable Winter Festivals that more than deserve an honourable mention includes:

  • Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous - Yukon;
  • Ice on Whyte - Edmonton, Alberta;
  • festival - Fredericton, New Brunswick ;
  • Took Tyme - Iqaluit, Nunavut;
  • Festival du Voyageur - Winnipeg, Manitoba;
  • Winterfesthiver - Fredericton, New Brunswick;
  • Calgary Winterfest - Alberta;
  • Wintercity Festival - Toronto Canada.

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Why risk delaying or cancelling your festive holiday travels? Simply fill out our online form and get started on your Canadian visa application today.