9 of the best Christmas markets to explore in Canada

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Christmas markets may have originated in Europe centuries ago, but it is today’s Canada that has perfected them. Is there a country on earth that can endure dark, cold nights and snowy days and make them bright, magical and delicious? Whether it’s an old-fashioned German Christmas market with glühwine and carols or a much more modern affair, you’ll find incredible Christmas markets across Canada from coast to coast to coast. the other.

These are some of the more popular markets to explore, but this list is far from exhaustive. Many Canadian cities have their own convenience stores that only last a day or a weekend. No matter where you travel in November or December, take a moment to research their festivities. You will be pleasantly surprised by what you will discover! Of course, COVID-19 protocols and weather can potentially alter the events scheduled for each Christmas market, so be sure to check the opening hours and times of the events before you go.

1. Whitehorse, Yukon

Whitehorse puts a twist on the proverbial 12 days of Christmas that everyone can enjoy – it has 12 days of market festivities. The Community fireweed market moved to the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Center for 12 days and welcomed more than 100 vendors. Inside the warm and cozy space, visitors will find arts and crafts, beadwork, farm produce, specialty foods, roasted coffee, homemade jams and preserves. , spice blends, baked goods, body and toiletries, photographs, books and more. In addition, there is a lot of holiday entertainment from buskers.

2. Vancouver, British Columbia

Move around, Munich and Frankfurt. Vancouver gives you value for your money when it comes to Christmas markets. Where else can you find mugs of German beer, west coast wine and flaming bowls of feuerzangenbowle? Translated as ‘fire tongs punch’, this is a spicy mulled wine that gets an extra boost from a large, hard lump of sugar that has been soaked in rum, set on fire, and then deposited. in the wine punch via a pair of tongs. There are also plenty of gourmet treats here, including baked apples and Swiss raclette, as well as take-home treats like local sea salt, homemade candy, and a Christmas cake. You can get gorgeous Christmas decorations, including hand-painted ornaments, wreaths, and poinsettias, as well as everything from delicate lace to children’s toys. Choirs and musicians set the mood for everyone to shop, snack and sip.

3. Banff, Alberta

Santa himself might just be jealous of all the fun happening at the Banff Christmas Market, not to mention the backdrop. Located in Banff National Park, this Christmas market hosts more than 50 vendors from across Canada. Much more than just a shopping experience, people frequent the market to go sleigh rides, eat barbecued food (maybe it’s Christmas, but it’s still Alberta), taste chocolate homemade and roast apples over a campfire (when you roll the hot juicy apples in the cinnamon and sugar provided, it tastes like apple pie!). Mulled wine and other libations are available in the Fire Lounge and will warm you in more ways than one. It is one of Canada’s first Christmas markets, taking place a few weekends in November.

An aerial view of Christmas market stalls in Kitchener (Photo credit: Explore Waterloo Region)

4. Kitchener, Ontario

It is difficult to choose a “Christmas capital” of Canada (after all, the North Pole Is have a Canadian postal code!) but if I had to choose it would be Kitchener. This southern Ontario city is home to one of the largest German-Canadian populations in the country and, in fact, its name was once Berlin. They throw one hell of an Oktoberfest, but they also really shine on Christmas. Kitchener’s Christkindl Market has been transforming the city into an authentic old-fashioned market since 1996.

Each December, residents and visitors are treated to music, choral performances, plays, nativity scenes, a model railroad exhibition, blacksmith demonstrations, a parade and a procession of donkeys, as well as a ceremonial lighting of the trees. Along the way, you can treat yourself to cutlets and stollen (plus free milk and cookies!) And shop for blown glass ornaments, crafts, toys, and jewelry. The whole city gets in the mood and you can spot festive decorations and special events all over the city throughout the month of December.

A look at the decorated stalls of Toronto's Distillery District at dusk.
A look at the decorated stalls of Toronto’s Distillery District at dusk (Photo credit: Destination Toronto)

5. Toronto, Ontario

In Canada’s largest city, you might just find the most cozy Christmas market in the country. The Toronto Christmas Market is held in the city’s historic Distillery District. Located just east of the city center, this district was once home to Gooderham and Worts, a whiskey factory founded in 1832. Today it is a pedestrianized area with cozy boutiques, tiny galleries, specialty restaurants. and many bars (as well as creative tours, like the Segway tour that I tried once.)

At Christmas, the neighborhood is transformed with thousands of twinkling lights and a huge Christmas tree. The cobbled streets only add to the charm as you explore the stalls selling Canadian crafts and European-inspired goodies. There are regular performances by folk musicians and dancers, and when you get tired you can rest at the beer garden, which also serves holiday cocktails and hot rum. You can refuel with homemade pierogi, but there are some quintessentially Canadian treats, too. Keep your eyes peeled for the stalls selling poutine, Canada’s beloved guilty pleasure of fresh fries, cheese curds and gravy.

At Lansdown Park, site of the Ottawa Christmas Market, the old exhibit hall is lit up with lights.
At Lansdown Park, site of the Ottawa Christmas Market, the old exhibit hall is lit up with lights. (Photo credit: Ottawa Tourism)

6. Ottawa, Ontario

As a long-time resident of Ottawa, I would be remiss if I did not include the Ottawa Christmas Market on this list. The city’s long-standing market space at Lansdowne Park in the heart of the Glebe Quarter transforms over four weekends as Christmas approaches. Over 35 vendors are on hand to offer food, drink, handmade crafts, eco coffee, locally distilled spirits, chocolates, soaps, wood products and more.

Pro tip: If you are in and around Ottawa in December, be sure to check out the free holiday light show on Parliament Hill and throughout downtown.

People and a man dressed as an elf stand outside the wooden cabins serving as shops at Montreal's Christmas Village.
People and a man dressed as an elf stand outside the wooden cabins serving as shops at Montreal’s Christmas Village. (Photo credit: SDC – Les Quartiers du Canal)

7. Montreal, Quebec

The Christmas spirit in Montreal is so high that there is not one, not two, but three Christmas markets! At Christmas village At the Atwater Market, more than 50 vendor cabins offering everything from honey to pottery to bath salts are set up while choirs perform holiday hymns in the background. This family market has already featured face painting and roasting marshmallows.

Meanwhile, at The Great Christmas Market you can get a double dose of Christmas fun and Quebec flavors. This is the place to go to taste poutine, smoked meat, maple syrup and local cheeses from over 100 producers, processors and artisans. Past activities have included a big raclette party (where cheese is melted by a huge bonfire and then eaten along with other tasty treats like baguette slices) and outdoor screenings of holiday movies.

Finally, at Christmas market in Jean-Talon, one of the city’s oldest markets is transformed for the holidays to host Montreal’s newest Christmas market. A dozen merchants are installed to offer luxurious products such as maple liqueur, artisanal duck, homemade nougat, etc.

Come to think of it, you could just say that Montreal has in fact four Christmas markets. The Christmas Market and Traditions is held in Longueuil, a suburb of Montreal. This dream market seems to specialize in holiday treats, as you can look for duck confit, pear cider, maple butter and salted caramels.

8. Quebec City, Quebec

Quebec City is insanely magical and romantic any time of the year, but the city is completely transformed as Christmas approaches thanks to the German Christmas Market. It’s old-fashioned European charm at its best. You can buy German goodies like mulled wine, bratwurst, pretzels, fondue, and gingerbread from the many wooden stalls that appear, as well as Christmas gifts like handmade decorations and woolen mittens. There are also a lot of local products, like maple syrup and meat pie. Between cobbled streets, centuries-old architecture and thousands of fairy lights, this is perhaps the most beautiful place in all of Canada. Plus, the festivities usually include a dog parade, where participating puppies dress up and meet Santa!

9. Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

While many Canadian cities turn into German-inspired Christmas markets every year, something very different is happening in Charlottetown. It embraces a Victorian theme! Each year, the city hosts a Christmas party that takes place from mid-November to mid-December. There are indoor craft fairs and outdoor light shows, a Dr Suess-inspired ‘Whoville’ event, and horse and wagon rides from Peake’s Wharf. But the Victorian Christmas Market the end of November is a highlight of the program. This outdoor Christmas market is the largest of its kind in Atlantic Canada. Over 60 vendors are set up, and there are fire pits and hot chocolate to keep everyone warm.

For more inspiration for winter in Canada, consider:

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