In almost every Canadian city, you can find a lights festival, skating in the park, and a performance of The Nutcracker. While these traditions still get you in the holiday spirit, they can become a bit repetitive. We’ve curated some under-the-radar traditions to take part in that’ll make you feel like a true local. The holidays are a great time to explore your city and meet potential new friends by checking out all the festivities it has to offer!
Known for its landscapes, Vancouver’s holiday traditions don’t disappoint in this category. Some Vancity traditions include the Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, and Grouse Mountain’s Peak of Christmas. The Suspension Bridge is a stunning sight on its own, but when it’s decked-out in twinkle lights for the holidays, the view is nothing short of magical. Then there’s Grouse Mountain, which transforms into the North Pole – complete with Santa’s village – overlooking Vancouver. It’s perfect for bringing out the kid in you (they’re in there, we promise).
One tradition that Calgarians tend to love is the Fairmont Palliser Holiday Buffet. This annual feast is home to some of the best holiday comfort food (complete with that famous Albertan beef), and has been a tradition at the hotel for around 102 years! If you’re tapping out of the kitchen for the season, this could be the spot for you. Another Calgary staple you’ll see around the holidays is twinkle lights shaped like monkeys. Yes, you read that correctly. The Calgary Zoo is famous for its Zoolights festival that puts a spin on your classic holiday light festival, and donates the proceeds to at-risk species.
To any Regina-native, the words Candy Cane Lane will bring a warm smile to their face. What started out as one neighbour growing his display of Christmas lights for fun, turned into roughly 388 houses along 7th Avenue North and Champs Crescent participating in what’s now known as Candy Cane Lane. Houses in these neighbourhoods create epic displays full of lights, music and holiday decorations for anyone to enjoy. It’s free for the public, but donations to the Regina and District Food Bank are welcomed.
There is always lots to do and see around the holidays in Toronto, but two top traditions are the Toronto Christmas Market in the historic Distillery District, and window shopping at the Hudson’s Bay Company’s dreamlike displays. The Christmas Market is a must! Everything from the European-style atmosphere, the lights, the spirit – to the food and drink, makes for a perfect night in the city. Then, if you’re in the area (or the mood to shop), the windows on display at HBC are an underrated, but necessary, part of the holidays in Toronto.
Some of the most important holiday traditions in Montreal centre around one, crucial thing: food. Around the holidays, tourtière pies (pork pies) are the go-to comfort food that you cannot miss out on. These pies were pioneered in Quebec; they’re best served warm, ideally homemade, and are a holiday staple! What better way to explore the city than to go on the hunt for the best tourtière pies in Montreal?
Dive into a little history with the annual Tree for Boston celebration in Halifax. A locally-grown tree is given to the Massachusetts capital as a thank-you for the people of Boston for their help during an explosion in Halifax in 1917. The tree send-off is definitely worth checking out, it happens in the Grand Parade Square in downtown Halifax with local food and live music.