Twinkling lights, snow-dusted trees and the smell of roasted chestnuts and mulled wine in the air, signal that the most wonderful time of the year has arrived. Countdown the days with some family-fun, gift-giving with a twist or perhaps a romantic getaway. Embrace the holiday spirit and celebrate with your loved ones with these fun, safe activities this season. 


1. Make your season merry and bright with light festivals 

Wander VanDusen Festival of Light in Vancouver – credit: Tourism Vancouver/VanDusen Gardens

Gather your kin and experience the magic of the season with light festivals across the country. Jump in the car and cruise your way through new and long-running spectacular outdoor illuminations featuring millions of LED lights, some animated to your favourite holiday tunes. Choose from Toronto’s Night of Lights, Winnipeg’s Winter Wonderland, Ottawa’s Magic of Lights and Niagara’s Festival of Lights among others.


Throw on your coat and wander socially-distant re-imagined outdoor festivals at Vancouver’s VanDusen Botanical Gardens or Banff’s live Christmas story told by the wildlife of Banff National Park.


2. Skate away on frozen rivers and outdoor rinks 

Ice skate in a winter wonderland of castles and mountain backdrops at Lake Louise – credit: Travel Alberta

A family favourite and perfect romantic holiday date, is lacing up your skates and gliding onto one of Canada’s top outdoor skating rinks. Skate under the festive lights at Cameco Meewasin Skating Rink in Saskatchewan, in front of the dramatic glaciers and mountains of Lake LouiseThe Loop in St John’s, Newfoundland or The Forks in Winnipeg. For a different kind of icy adventure, try the ice roads of the Northwest Territories. 


3. Dash through the snow on a real-life one-horse open sleigh 

Take the family for a sleigh ride this December – credit: Goh Iromoto

Step aboard an old-fashioned horse sleigh ride and enjoy spectacular snow-covered landscapes. Enjoy an evening mountain sleigh ride in Whistler,  British Columbia, s’mores around the campfire after your ride in the Rocky Mountains or be met by Santa himself in Huntsville, Ontario.


For a sleigh-ride twist, perch yourself on a dogsled to feel the power and majesty of a team of friendly huskies. Slide along Quebec’s vast snow-cocooned wilderness or with Indigenous guides in the Yukon. For a multi-day experience you’ll never forget, sign up for a seven or fourteen-day husky wilderness adventure with Sky High Wilderness Ranch, just outside Whitehorse and to live like a musher!  


4. Warm your heart and give the gift of Canadian local arts and flavours

Gift the best of PEI with 'PEI in a box' – credit: Discover Charlottetown

What would the holidays be without a little gift shopping? Give your loved ones some of Canada’s best creations curated by distilleries, makers and chocolatiers—and support local businesses while you’re at it.


For those who are near but seem far this season, Granville Island Delivery Co will ship handpicked curated gift boxes within Greater Vancouver, while Uncorked will deliver a build-at-home charcuterie board within New Brunswick.


Surprise your friends or family who live across the country with everything they need for a festive feast. Ship a clam chowder kit with PEI in a Box, get the party started with Toronto’s Reids Distillery’s cocktail kits, wine from indigenous owned winery Nk’Mip Cellars or send much needed chocolate from Newfoundland Chocolate Company and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Co anywhere in Canada. Or pick up a gift card for one of Canada’s attractions for when you can travel to see them again.


5. Cozy up and escape the winter chills 

Snuggle up in a cozy lodge this winter.

Make your dream of waking up in a real life gingerbread house (almost!) a reality with unique  stays across the country. Choose your own winter adventure by day and snuggle up in front of crackling fires or gaze up at the northern lights by night. The adventures continue with polar bears at Northern Manitoba lodges, cool accommodations in Newfoundland, British Columbia’s ski resorts, to just somewhere to relax and unwind in a little bit of luxury in Alberta. 


Make your list and check it twice when it comes to safe and responsible travelling this holiday season. Consult traveller guidelines and restrictions before your travel, book your advanced tickets online and follow local health and safety protocols to ensure everyone has an enjoyable experience this winter. 


Celebrate nice wherever you are in Canada (we’ve cancelled the naughty list!).

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