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Get in the holiday spirit with these Christmas activities in Ottawa

Ho-ho-hold onto your Santa hats. The holiday season is ramping up around Ottawa, and there are endless ways to celebrate. Drive by magical light displays, browse a European-style Christmas market, cut down your perfect evergreen at a tree farm or wave to Santa at an outdoor parade.   

You can get into the festive spirit from November into early January at many unique holiday events in and near Ottawa. Check out these holiday light displays, festive pop-ups, Christmas markets, tree farms and Santa parades this season.   

Holiday lights

Magic Of Lights

Where: Wesley Clover Parks, 411 Corkstown Rd., Ottawa, ON 

When: November 17, 2023 – January 6, 2024 

You don’t have to leave your car to enjoy a display of festive, colourful lights featuring different characters and holiday sets. Drive along this glowing trail and then explore the holiday pit stop at the end on foot. At the pit stop, you can take festive photos, grab a treat, walk through the twinkling tunnel and mail your letter to Santa.   

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Lansdowne Tree Lighting Ceremony

Where: Aberdeen Pavilion, 1000 Exhibition Way, Ottawa, ON 

When: November 24, 2023  

The tree lighting ceremony of the massive evergreen at Lansdowne coincides with the start of the Ottawa Christmas Market. Watch the tree glow in the evenings and stick around to enjoy carolers, visit Santa and browse some local vendors.   

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Holiday Lights Stroll And Night Market

Where: Saunders Farm, 7893 Bleeks Rd. A, Ottawa, ON 

When: Select dates starting December 1- 23, 2023  

Head down to Saunders Farm during the evening Christmas events and stroll through sparkling walking paths covered in lights. After admiring the lights, you can warm up by a bonfire with hot chocolate and treats and purchase a tree or wreath to bring home.   

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Festival Of Lights

Where: Perth, ON 

When: Select dates from November 16, 2023 – January 1, 2024  

The charming town of Perth comes alight with a festive glow and numerous holiday events throughout November and December. The annual Shop Stamp & Win event kicks off on November 1. There is a Christmas market on November 5, Once Upon a Christmas full of carols and firepits on November 25, and a Polar Bear Plunge on January 1, with other Christmas experiences speckled throughout.   

The Crystal Palace will glow with lit-up Christmas trees starting November 16. The palace is open during events only, but the trees will be twinkly all night and can be admired from outside. Things get even brighter on December 1 with a lights and fireworks show.   

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Alight At Night Festival

Where: Upper Canada Village, 13740 County Rd. 2, Morrisburg, ON  

When: Select dates December 1, 2023 – January 6, 2024  

Take a stunning holiday walk through what feels like a vintage Christmas postcard. Admire the quaint, historic buildings in Upper Canada Village as they are decked out with colourful lights. Visit Santa in his workshop until December 23 as he prepares for Christmas Eve. The entire experience is about 40 minutes long, and you can extend the fun with dinner reservations at the Harvest Barn or Willard’s Hotel. 

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Trees Of Hope

Where: Fairmont Chateau Laurier, 1 Rideau St., Ottawa, ON 

When: November 27, 2023 – January 5, 2024  

Ignite the magic of the holiday season by visiting beautifully decorated Christmas trees at Fairmont Chateau Laurier in support of the CHEO Foundation. Viewers can walk through the halls of this grand hotel and vote for their favourite tree throughout the season.   

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Chutes De Coulonge Festival Of Lights

Where: Chutes de Coulonge, 100 Prom. Du-Parc-des-Chutes, Mansfield-et-Pontefract, QC 

When: December 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16 and 29, 2023 

You can see an impressive waterfall lit up with colourful lights in the evenings. Stroll along an illuminated route and admire the falls aglow with Christmas colours. Warm up with a cup of hot chocolate by a bonfire after your walk, and you may get a chance to spot Santa.   

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Winter Wander

Where: Sparks St., Ottawa, ON  

When: Starting November 15, 2023  

Holiday displays will adorn Ottawa’s pedestrian street so you can get into the spirit and take festive photos. This year, there will be additional lights, eight large illuminated displays, Christmas trees, and lamppost decor.   

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Turcotte Family Christmas Fundraiser

Where: 18 Cypress Gardens, Stittsville, ON  

When: Starting December 1, 2023  

This residential home hosts a yearly holiday fundraiser and decks out its front lawn with a festively themed scene. Head to Stittsville this season to enjoy a National Lampoons Christmas Vacation display, complete with a replica of the family’s station wagon, cousin Eddie’s RV and a full-sized Santa sleigh. It promises to be bigger and brighter this year, and as always, they’re accepting food bank donations.   

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Vintage Village Of Lights

Where: Cumberland Heritage Village Museum, 2940 Old Montreal Rd., Cumberland, ON  

When: Select dates November 24 – December 17, 2023 

Take a step back in time and enjoy a traditional Christmas day in an early 1900’s village, admiring festive displays and countless string lights. The village museum has quaint old buildings and villagers ready to inform you about work and recreation from decades past. Get cozy by a bonfire, decorate gingerbread cookies, visit Santa and more.  

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Winter Lights Across Canada

Where: Various locations downtown Ottawa, ON 

When: December 7, 2023 – January 7, 2024 

Ottawa’s downtown, including many parks and the parliament buildings, are adorned with twinkly lights and holiday displays. Enjoy the beginning of the winter season with tons of festive lights strung throughout the capital region.  There is a pathway of lights you can follow, with a map of the route available online.  

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Light Up The Night - Almonte

Where: Mill St., Almonte, ON  

When: December 1, 2023  

This winter festival features an outdoor concert, with the streets lined with festive treats, activities and sparkling lights. There is a fabulous fireworks display, so you’ll be surrounded by magical lights above and around you, strung on buildings and trees around town. The performances kick off at 7 p.m., but you can beat the rush and get some holiday shopping done or enjoy a meal in town.   

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Taffy Lane

Where: Taffy Ln., Ottawa, ON  

When: Typically starts December 1 

Every December, the residents of Taffy Lane in Orleans cover their front lawns with epic Christmas displays that draw crowds of locals. The street turns into one-way traffic in December, so you can drive along this festive trail, admiring an array of holiday decorations for free. If you park a few blocks away and walk, you’ll be able to miss some of the traffic delays.   

Festive pop-ups

Sippin’ Santa

Where: The Standard, 360 Elgin St., Ottawa, ON 

When: November 23 – December 31, 2023  

You’ll be singing ‘Mele Kalikimaka’ as you’re transported to Christmas in Hawaii at The Standard’s annual holiday pop-up. Surround yourself with tropically festive décor and sip drinks from holiday character-themed glassware, daily starting at 5 p.m.  

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Fairmont Château Laurier (Elf’s Pub and Festive Afternoon Tea)

Where: 1 Rideau St., Ottawa, ON  

When: Opening mid-November 2023  

Hidden in the Fairmont Château Laurier, the Elf’s Pub holiday pop-up bar is returning for its second year. While you can still expect floor-to-ceiling Christmas décor, the overall theme will differ from last year, so enjoy a drink in a festive new atmosphere. The hotel also hosts holiday-featured meals at Wilfrid’s Restaurant and a festive afternoon tea at Zoe’s.  

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Nan’s Parlour Christmas Explosion

Where: 73 Clarence St., Ottawa, ON 

When: As of November 28, 2023  

Promising to be bigger and better than last year, this granny-chic cocktail bar will be decked out in holiday decorations throughout December. You can look forward to a festive-themed menu and special events throughout the pop-up. There are usually tarot card readings and Bingo nights every month, so stay tuned for festive versions of those, along with other Christmassy activities.  

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Miracle On Elgin

Where: Elgin Beer Project, 399 Elgin St., Ottawa, ON  

When: Opening November 24, 2023  

The Miracle Pop-up is back in Ottawa (one of its three locations in Ontario), for the first time ever at Elgin Beer Project. The restaurant will be covered in kitschy Christmas decorations, imagine colourful lights, vintage displays, ribbons and sparkles in all directions. Sip on festive drink out of a Santa mug as you catch up with friends. 

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Christmas markets

Metcalfe Farmer’s Christmas Market

Where: Greely Community Centre, 1448 Meadow Dr., Greely, ON 

When: November 18 and December 16, 2023  

Fill your fridge with fresh produce and work on your holiday shopping list at the Metcalf Farmer’s Christmas market. Eat some warm food, listen to live music and browse the 50 vendors for gifts like preserves, coffee, decorations and more.   

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Watson's Mill Christmas Craft Market

Where: Watson’s Mill, 5525 Dickinson St., Manotick, ON 

When: November 18, 19, 25, 26 and December 2,3, 2023  

Visit the historic stone mill in Manotick to shop at the festive weekend markets. More than 30 vendors will be set up in Watson’s Mill and Dickinson House so you can get some Christmas shopping done. On the last afternoon of the market, there will be carolling at sunset.   

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Ottawa Christmas Market

Where: Casino Lac-Leamy Plaza at Lansdowne, Marché Way, Ottawa, ON 

When: Select dates from November 24 — December 23, 2023  

Feel like you’re strolling the cobblestone streets of a European city during Christmas time at the Ottawa Christmas Market. Full of festive sounds, twinkly lights and wooden chalets, you can work on your holiday shopping list and get into the spirit. Indulge in holiday-themed eats, sip hot chocolate or mulled wine and enjoy 16 days of live entertainment. There will also be craft workshops for kids, daily prizes, a DJ skate night, a silent disco and more.   

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The Museum's Christmas Market

Where: Canadian Museum of History, 100 Laurier St., Gatineau, QC 

When: November 23 – 26, 2023 

The history museum’s Grand Hall comes alive each holiday season with festive lights and Christmas market booths. Over 80 vendors will be set up in front of the towering windows and Indigenous carvings, where you can browse for handmade treats, artisanal spirits, holiday decorations, fashion accessories and more. Plus, it’s free to visit.  

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Christmas In Old-Aylmer

Where: Cabaret La Basoche, 120 Principale St., Gatineau, QC 

When: Weekends November 24 – December 3, 2023 

Did you know that the Quebec side hosts a European-style outdoor Christmas market? You can shop from over 50 vendors set up in cabin-style booths for two weekends. There will be festive eats, special events like mini electric train rides on November 25 and 26, and a tree lighting ceremony on December 1.   

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Glebe Craft And Artisan Fair

Where: Glebe Community Centre, 175 Third Ave., Ottawa, ON 

When: November 25 – 26, 2023  

A neighbourhood-driven group hosts this community market and is free to visit. Browse through a bunch of different vendors selling locally made products. 

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ADAAWE Indigenous Holiday Market

Where: 338 Somerset St. W., Ottawa, ON 

When: November 25, 2023  

You’ll discover unique Indigenous-made items and gifts from over 30 different makers. Keep checking things off your holiday shopping list and get cozy with complimentary bannock and tea with traditional festive treats. 

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HOLIYAY Craft Market

Where: National Arts Centre, 1 Elgin St., Ottawa, ON 

When: November 26, 2023  

The eighth annual Holiyay Market is returning to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, hosted by Common Markets (formerly Freewheeling Craft). Stay warm as you shop from more than 90 local makers selling jewelry, prints, candles, ceramics, clothing and many more unique handmade gifts. 

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Christmas at the Carp Farmers’ Market

Where: 3790 Carp Rd., Carp, ON 

When: December 1 and 2, 2023 

This holiday market is your last chance to shop from local vendors at the Carp Farmers’ Market until the spring of 2024. As you explore this quaint village outdoor market, enjoy the festive sights and sounds of live music. The event is free, accessible and pet-friendly. 

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613 Flea Holiday Night Market | 613 Christmas

Where: Aberdeen Pavilion, 1000 Exhibition Way | Carleton University Fieldhouse, 85 University Rd., Ottawa, ON  

When: December 1, 8, 15 and 22 | December 2 and 3, 2023  

613 Flea brings together tons of makers, artisans and creators who sell goods next to vintage vendors and food stalls. The holiday night market is next to the Ottawa Christmas Market, so visit for a break from the cold and browse even more gift ideas. 

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Christmas tree farms

Fallowfield Tree Farm

Where: 6100 Fallowfield Rd., Stittsville, ON 

When: November 17 – December 24, 2023  

Cut down your own evergreen or select a pre-cut one from this local tree farm. There are fun activities for the whole family on weekends, such as tractor rides, burning campfires and bouncy castles. Santa is expected to visit during December weekends.  

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Cedar Hill Christmas Tree Farm

Where: 951 8th Conc. S., Pakenham, ON 

When: November 18 – December 24, 2023  

A wagon ride will take you to the fields to cut down the perfect tree at this Christmas tree farm. You can also choose from pre-cut trees and other festive décor like wreaths and ornaments. Grab a hot meal during your visit and sweet treats to bring home. There are many activities, including play structures, a tubing hill, a zip line for kids, and a large holiday store. The farm is so picturesque it has been featured in holiday Hallmark movies, so make sure to have your camera handy.   

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Christmas Down On The Farm

Where: The Log Farm, 670 Cedarview Rd., Ottawa, ON 

When: November 27 – December 18, 2023, weekends only 

This historic farm hosts seasonal events, and leading up to Christmas, you can enjoy festive games and pick out a tree to bring home. There will be wagon rides, hot chocolate, campfires, a farm market, a petting zoo and Santa’s workshop.   

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Hillcrest Tree Farm

Where: 7357 Fourth Line Rd., North Gower, ON 

When: November 25 – December 17, 2023 (pending tree supply) 

Spend an afternoon at the tree farm, warming up by a large fire pit (on weekends) after cutting down your Christmas tree. They have a variety of tree species to choose from, both pre-cut and cut-your-own, as well as wreaths for sale. 

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Thomas Tree Farm

Where: 6421 McCordick Rd., North Gower, ON 

When: Opening November 24, 2023  

Cut down a balsam, spruce or scotch pine Christmas tree after enjoying a hay wagon ride out to the field. You can indulge in complimentary hot chocolate and cookies after picking your tree. 

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Johnston Brother Tree Farm

Where: 2853 Porter Rd., Kemptville, ON  

When: Opening November 25, 2023  

Visit this family tree farm that has been growing Christmas trees for the community to cut for over 70 years. After picking out the perfect evergreen, enjoy a hot chocolate or coffee and a warm meal from one of the on-site food vendors. There will also be wagon rides on the first two weekends of December. The farm is cash only. 

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Country Christmas Days

Where: Saunders Farm, 7893 Bleeks Rd. A, Ottawa, ON 

When: Select dates from December 2 – 23, 2023  

Experience a festive day full of activities, including snowy wagon rides, visiting Santa, and holiday treats. Photo-worthy Christmas displays will surround you, and you can enjoy the outdoor mazes and play structures at Saunders Farm. Find holiday decor for your home from a selection of pre-cut trees and wreaths.   

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Boise Brabant

Where: 721 Ch. Martel, Casselman, ON 

When: First two weekends of December 2023  

Balsam fir, Fraser fir, white spruce and blue spruce are available to cut down at this East-end tree farm. Online reservations are required this year for the first time due to the limited number of Christmas trees available. Cash only is accepted. 

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Help Santa Toy Parade

Where: Starting at Elgin and Laurier, ending at Lansdowne Park 

When: November 18, 2023 

Santa is coming to town, so gather along the route from Elgin and Laurier, going West toward Bank Street and then South to Lansdowne. Admire whimsical holiday floats and donate what you can to Ottawa’s Toy Mountain, which supports local children who may otherwise not receive gifts this year. The fun kicks off at 11 a.m.   

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Santa’s Parade of Lights

Where: St. Joseph Blvd., Ottawa, ON 

When: November 25, 2023  

Line the streets and prepare to sing ‘Here Comes Santa Claus’ because Ottawa’s East-end parade is back along St. Joseph Boulevard on the evening of November 25. Watch for Santa and other holiday characters and floats between Youville Drive and Centrum Boulevard.   

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Stittsville Parade of Lights

Where: Stittsville Main St., Ottawa, ON  

When: December 2, 2023 

Enjoy a holiday parade down Stittsville Main Street that begins at 6 p.m. on December 2. There will be dozens of floats and Santa will make an appearance.   

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Perth Santa Claus Parade

Where: Perth, ON  

When: December 2, 2023  

Many different Christmas festivities are happening in the small town of Perth this year, including the annual Santa Claus Parade. This year’s parade theme is Songs of Christmas, so keep your eyes peeled for new floats. It kicks off at 5 p.m. by The Factory on Sunset Boulevard, continuing along Wilson Street and Gore Street.   

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Santa’s Parade

Where: Rue Principale, Gatineau, QC  

When: December 2, 2023  

Head over to the Quebec side of the river to enjoy a Santa Claus parade as part of the Christmas in Old Aylmer events. The parade begins at 6 p.m. from the marina, going down Rue Principale to Boulevard Wilfrid-Lavigne. If you can’t make the parade, on December 3, there will be a free skating session with Santa.   

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Santa Shuffle

Where: Lansdowne Park, Marché Way, Ottawa, ON  

When: December 2, 2023  

Register for this holiday fun run to race, jog or stroll a one-kilometre or five-kilometre path supporting The Salvation Army. Once registered, fundraise what you can and pick up your race kit, which includes your festive racing tee. Feel free to add some festive accessories to your race look.   

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Cruise through the holidays with your CAA Membership

Starting at just $30 a year, CAA Members can enjoy discounts on everything from dining out to filling up on fuel, as well as other benefits. You can view the list of 126,000 partner locations worldwide and compare Membership plans online. 

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