There is something special about celebrating the holidays in Canada that no other destination can offer. Whether it’s the giving spirit of the local community members or the fact that the small towns look just like the front of a Hallmark Christmas card, Canada is truly a special place to be this holiday season. With the festive season just beginning, a visit to one of Canada’s charming towns is sure to get you feeling more jolly than Santa himself.
The wide offerings of the diverse small towns of Canada have something for everyone in the family. From those who are looking for lesser-known Canadian holiday traditions to participating in winter sports in the mountains, we delved into some of the best small towns in Canada for holiday celebrations to bring you the most wonderful Christmas season this year.
12 Best Christmas Towns In Canada For Holiday Celebrations
The eastern/central provinces of Canada include Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland. Located along the Atlantic Ocean and Great Lakes, the region has a rich history and topographical significance. The eastern and central regions of Canada are known for being a significant seaport for the import and export of goods, the country’s fishing industry, and home to the iconic shipbuilding town.
These areas feature a range of coastal town offerings that will lift your holiday spirits. While these small towns are known for their summer activities as they are on the water’s edge, during the holiday months, there is no shortage of festive activities.
1. Quebec City, Quebec
Quebec City is not exactly a small town, but the holiday season brings some of the most stunning views that look straight out of a novel, making it the perfect place to celebrate Christmas. In particular, the area of Old Quebec is decked out with holiday decorations and festive displays.
Quartier De Petit Champlain
The Quartier de Petit Champlain is a small part of the city that transforms into a holiday tiny town, perfect to get into the festive spirit. The small town square is bustling with historic culture and festive displays. Walk through the town, buzzing with local traders and crafters who proudly present their goods. Take in the festive atmosphere, adorned with a giant Christmas tree, outdoor fireplaces, sparkling lights, and live music while shopping for unique gifts to bring back home. Starting December 2, the local choirs will stroll through the square and perform in front of the church to help boost the Christmas spirit. In addition, starting on December 9, the world-famous circus, Flip Fabrique, will be performing the show Brrrr!, an impressive showing of balance acts, juggling, Tramp-wall, and more throughout unsuspecting locations of the square. This small, quaint Canadian town is perfect for a magical Christmas!
German Christmas Market
This traditional German Christmas Market is held from November 23 to December 23. The local tradition is a marvelous recreation of the charming atmosphere of a classic European Christmas market. Free for all to attend, the German Christmas Market is a great gathering of locals and visitors alike. Get into the holiday spirit by enjoying traditional foods such as gingerbread, mulled wine, grilled bratwurst, and much more. You can also shop locally crafted gifts while enjoying festive performances and decorations that will leave you with an unforgettable Christmas experience. While Quebec is quite a big city, the small-town vibe of Quebec City and Old Quebec provides a warm and cozy scene for your holiday needs.
Hotel De Glacé
Hotel de Glacé, or “Hotel of Ice,” is a truly unique winter experience that will bring out your inner ice princess. This hotel is the only one of its kind to exist in North America. Located just 20 minutes from downtown, Hotel de Glacé opens only from the months of January through March. As the name suggests, the hotel is built entirely from ice and snow. The architectural wonder features the magnificent Grand Hall, an ice slide, rooms and suites, a common chapel, and the fully stocked Ice Bar. Visit the Hotel de Glacé for a tour of jaw-dropping architecture, or if you are brave enough, plan to stay the night for the ultimate winter wonderland experience. While Elsa from Frozen may prance around her ice castle in a dress, be sure to bundle up to get the most out of this unforgettable experience.
2. Mont-Tremblant, Quebec
Mont-Tremblant is located in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec. This small town in Canada is reminiscent of a quaint European ski village and features a year-round ski resort, perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. During the summer months, the resort is known for its expansive golf courses and its national park, right on the shores of Lake Tremblant. Here, visitors can explore the hiking trails, go canoeing and kayaking, and play some golf with a jaw-dropping background. In the winter months, Mont-Tremblant is the place to be for winter sports. While known for its outdoor activities, the holiday festivities of the Pedestrian Village make this destination perfect for all members of the family. You’ll feel like you’re in a Hallmark movie in this little town in Quebec.
Mont-Tremblant Ski Resort
The Mont-Tremblant Ski Resort is a world-class ski area that is perfect for a family ski vacation, if you are looking to enjoy a White Christmas. The resort is the second oldest in North America and spans over 755 acres with over 100 different trails. This iconic ski destination is perfect for skiers and snowboarders of all ages and levels. The mountain is also a pristine destination to try out different winter activities such as ice fishing, dog sledding, snow tubing, mountain biking, and much more.
Hiking And Snowshoeing
For those not looking to ski or snowboard, hiking and snowshoeing is a popular activity for outdoor enthusiasts, as you can marvel at the town’s serene beauty. Perfect for visitors, the Chalet des Voyageurs, a short walk from Pedestrian Village, provides snowshoes and crampons for you to rent. This activity is perfect if you are planning a day trip to Mont-Tremblant. Be sure to check the weather conditions before heading out on the hiking trails.
Mont-Tremblant Holiday Village
The holiday village is located at the base of the mountain and is known as Pedestrian Village outside of the holiday season. The main village square is home to the most cozy and vibrant holiday happenings that will leave you feeling warm after a day in the snow. Pedestrian Village is a marvel in itself with vibrant buildings and small-town architecture. The fresh dusting of powdery white snow and festive decorations that line the street only add to the town’s charm. From the foot of the mountain, visitors can take the Cabriolet, which is free for all to ride. The gondola lift soars high above the looming trees and takes riders on a tour throughout the village to admire the colorful buildings and rooftops from the sky. Throughout the holiday months, Holiday Village hosts a number of festive activities including a Christmas Eve Parade, photo opportunities with Santa, Christmas caroling, ice sculpting, holiday craft workshops, music festivals, and so much more.
Scandinave Spa Mont-Tremblant
What better way to wind down and relax after a day on the slopes than rejuvenating in a traditional Nordic spa? The Scandinavian spa house offers cold and hot areas and massage treatments for those achy muscles. The restorative spa experience allows you to disconnect from the outside world in its peaceful environment that heals the body and soul. Explore the different saunas, steam rooms, hot and cold pools, solariums, fireplaces, and heat lamps. If you are looking for some time away from the popular tourist destination of the world-famous ski resort, this Scandinavian spa is worth visiting, especially during the winter months.
3. Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Charlottetown is the capital coastal town of Prince Edward Island and a hub for holiday festivals and events with local shops, world-class restaurants, and winter activities. Whether you are looking to learn more about Canada’s historic buildings or grab a bite at the delicious restaurants, Charlottetown is one of the top small towns in Canada to celebrate the holidays.
Embody your inner Santa by going on a sleigh ride this winter. Great Northern Adventure offers rides for all different group sizes. Feel the crisp winter air on your face while enjoying the scenes of the national park and alpine lakes.
Holiday Lights On Victoria Row
Victoria Row is the main street in town that houses rows of shops, restaurants, and cafés. The historic main street is transformed into a winter village with dazzling light displays and themed decorations. Take a walk through the town to enjoy the decked-out holiday décor, get some holiday shopping in, grab a delicious meal from a local café, or enjoy a refreshing glass of craft beer to participate in some holiday fun.
Charlottetown Christmas Festival
The Charlottetown Christmas Festival is held this year from November 24 to January 2. Some of its most distinguished events that bring all visitors some holiday cheer include the annual Christmas Tree Lighting, a Victorian Christmas market, Yuletide horse and wagon rides, art galleries, craft fairs, and more. While coastal towns are typically known for their summer activities such as whale watching, renting paddle boards, chasing waterfalls, going out on fishing boats, or roaming golf courses, Charlottetown is reinvented into a Christmas wonderland by the festive spirit of its local residents.
Bell Aliant Centre
Another family-friendly activity to boost Christmas morale this season is ice skating at the Bell Aliant Centre. The facility offers public skating sessions and is also home to hockey games that are fun for the whole family to watch.
4. Victoria-By-The-Sea, Prince Edward Island
Victoria-by-the-Sea is another small coastal town located on Prince Edward Island. The small town is renowned as a historic fishing village with a rich history. Less than an hour’s drive from Charlottetown, Victoria-by-the-Sea is a worthwhile detour to experience small-town holiday celebrations.
Victoria Lighthouse Museum
Learn more about the rich history of one of Canada’s smallest towns, Victoria-by-the-Sea, at the Victoria Lighthouse Museum. The harbor houses six different range lights that previously directed marine traffic into the seaport. The lights include Leard’s Front and Back lights, Palmer’s Front and Back lights, and Wright’s Front and Back lights. Victoria-by-the-Sea was a link to the mainland where ships traveled regularly between Victoria and Nova Scotia. The museum is located at Leard’s Front and Palmer’s Back range light towers and allows visitors an inside look at the rich history of this small town.
5. Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia
Mahone Bay is a small town in Nova Scotia that has made the top lists of picture-perfect destinations. The views that Mahone Bay brings are nothing short of something you would see from a postcard. It is home to historical heritage buildings, unique culinary experiences, colorful streets, and more. During the holiday season, Mahone Bay features holiday fun for the whole family to enjoy.
Father Christmas At Mahone Bay
Beginning on November 24, the small town of Mahone Bay will become the winter wonderland of your dreams. The town is decorated with aromatic fir trees, dazzling lights, and festive characters to get you in the Christmas spirit. Throughout the month, the Father Christmas Festival features different holiday events that you won’t want to miss. Some of the most popular activities include the Harry Potter Christmas at Hogwarts, Reindeer Fun Run, Cozy Christmas Cabaret, Christmas markets, and more. Grab a Wish List and enter for a chance to win some holiday specials.
A Christmas Dollhouse Musical
If you are looking for a holiday performance to attend, A Christmas Doll House Musical is a unique offering and a Nova Scotia local gem. The movie is appropriate for all ages and is based on a true story that occurred in Nova Scotia in the 1930s. This Nova Scotia classic tells a story of community, friendship, and forgiveness during the Christmas season. From a brilliant musical score to the bright sets and costumes, this musical is a truly unique experience local to the area.
Photo Op At The Three Churches Of Mahone Bay
The Three Churches is one of the most coveted views in all of Canada and one you won’t want to miss. They include St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, St. James Anglican Church, and Trinity United Church.
The western region of Canada is known for its varying landscapes, dubbing the area the “Rugged West Coast.” The province has areas with looming mountain ranges and fertile valleys, making it the home of many natural resources. Some of the most notable include gold, copper, lumber, and coal. The western provinces include Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. They are also home to numerous national parks that highlight some of the most breathtaking scenes that Canada has to offer. Known for their diverse terrain, these charming towns offer a range of activities for those looking for a wild winter adventure or a small cozy picturesque town with local celebrations.
6. Whistler, British Columbia
Whistler, located in British Columbia on the west coast of Canada, is known as Canada’s ski capital. It is nestled in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, not to be confused with the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Although a highly sought-after winter sports destination, the quaint small-town attractions offer something for everyone. The mountains of Whistler are open every day, even on Christmas and New Years! If outdoor activities are not for you, British Columbia also offers a variety of festive events such as holiday markets, light displays, or festive dining options.
Wintershpere is a festive pop-up that begins on December 23 and runs until January 6. The winter wonderland atmosphere is a great way to celebrate the Christmas season with events for the whole family. The free event, located at the Whistler Conference Center, features a holiday café with festive drinks, a signature holiday maze, tons of kids’ crafts, local entertainment, holiday food vendors, and more. The festive cheer that Wintersphere brings makes it a popular event for visitors and locals.
Breathe in the cool, crisp air of British Columbia at the open-air rink in the center of Whistler Village. Located at Olympic Plaza, this rink is a favorite among all during the holiday season. The skating rink, decorated with bright lights and festive decorations, is the perfect place to break out those figure eights. The rink at Olympic Plaza also offers special performances and themed nights on certain days, so be sure to check out the calendar to plan ahead. If planning a visit to British Columbia, ice skating is a great family-friendly day or night activity.
Nothing gets people in the Christmas spirit more than hearing their favorite Christmas carols. Not only is the Whistler air filled with delicate snow during the winter, but the festive sounds of Christmas carolers also fill the area. Local choirs and groups of residents share the joy of Christmas for all to hear. There are numerous traditional carol services that are held in venues throughout the small town and visitors are more than welcome to join in to help spread the Christmas spirit.
Fire And Ice Show
The Fire and Ice Show is unique to Whistler and features a blend of art and athleticism. The show is an unforgettable experience that is set against the striking backdrop of the surrounding mountains. The Fire and Ice Show is free for all to attend and showcases professional skiers and snowboarders jumping through rings of fire. In conjunction with the captivating music, fire spinners, fireworks, and talented maneuvers of the performers, the Fire and Ice Show is a grand celebration of Whistler’s winter customs.
7. Austin, Manitoba
Austin is one of the smallest towns in Canada but is not short of Christmas spirit. The tiny town houses just over 400 residents and offers a cozy atmosphere to celebrate the holiday season. The town of Austin has a rich history and exploring the town brings you back to what you may have imagined Christmas to look like in the 1940s and ‘50s.
Manitoba Agricultural Museum
The Manitoba Agricultural Museum is a celebration of Austin’s rich history as an old agricultural heritage town. During December, the Manitoba Agricultural Museum hosts its annual Winter Wonderland event from December 8 to 10 and 15 to 17 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Get in on the festive fun that is beloved by locals of the community with a celebration that involves festive village lights, holiday movies from the National Film Board, kids’ activities, sleigh rides, and more. The Pioneer Kitchen at the venue also offers holiday treats such as puffed wheat squares, brownies, hot chocolate, and more.
8. Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island is located on the rugged west coast of Canada. The island is known for its summer activities which include whale watching, camping, and paddling. But in the winter, the historic legislative buildings of British Columbia are adorned with the most festive lights, sure to put you in a merry mood.
Christmas Afternoon Tea
A classic way to celebrate the holidays is a festive afternoon tea. Pendray Inn hosts an elaborate afternoon tea spread that includes delectable baked goods, a hand-picked selection of teas, and finger foods that will make your heart and tummy happy.
The southern regions of Canada include Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, parts of Ontario, and New Brunswick. Making up a small area of the county, it is known to be the only province with a Carolinian forest. The south is known for its rare and diverse animal life and vegetation.
While the area is known for its nature, during the holiday season, these small towns in Canada boast of being the top picturesque village options in all of the country. Visiting these charming towns truly feels like stepping into a Hallmark Christmas film or holiday postcard.
9. Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario
Niagara-on-the-Lake is located in Ontario and is known to be one of the top small towns in Canada that feel like you have been plucked right into a Hallmark Christmas movie. Several holiday films including The Holiday Calendar and Christmas Inheritance were actually filmed at Niagara-on-the-Lake. Niagara-on-the-Lake offers tons of activities and holiday events that will have you booking your next trip back for the next holiday season.
The Ultimate Christmas Village
From December through the end of January, the Ultimate Christmas Village features activities for adults and children alike. Along with the local businesses and historic sites being decked out with holiday cheer, the event also hosts several special activities that make for an unforgettable Christmas experience. If taking a day trip, be sure to check the calendar for special events such as the Candlelight Stroll, winery tours, food tours, ghost walks, and more.
Niagara-On-The-Lake Christmas Parade
The annual Niagara-on-the-Lake Christmas parade is Ontario’s most anticipated holiday parade. Locals and tourists grab a spot to get a glimpse of the intricately decorated floats and a chance to reminisce on childhood memories with its Santa Claus theme. Catch the parade this year on Saturday, December 9, starting at 11 a.m.
The Dickensian Feast is a time-traveling experience that brings you back in history. The event is an honor to the classic tale and is a popular attraction for a good reason. Held at the Victorian Hotel, it is the perfect place to enjoy a dinner experience before catching the show — A Christmas Carol at the Shaw Festival. Be sure to book your tickets early, as seats run out quickly.
10. St. Andrews-By-The-Sea, New Brunswick
St. Andrews-by-the-Sea is known for its year-round offerings like art galleries, golf courses, and stunning views that make for a popular wedding destination. New Brunswick, home of Fundy National Park, features high tides and notable activities and experiences.
Christmas By The Sea
Christmas by the Sea offers activities and events all throughout the month of December. Join in on the holiday fun with craft workshops, a fireman’s Santa Claus parade, a tree lighting ceremony, a gingerbread house competition, skating with Santa, free poutine, farmers markets, and much more. If you are looking for a relaxing destination to celebrate Christmas, the stunning views of St. Andrews makes it one of the best small towns in Canada for the festive season.
The Northern provinces of Canada include the Yukon and Northwest Territories. This area takes up a large portion of Canada’s land mass at almost 40 percent. The northern region, while large, remains highly mysterious, as many parts of the area are not very visitor-friendly. The iconic symbols of Canada — which include the Northern Lights, polar bears, seal hunters, icebergs, and igloos — are all located in this picturesque region of Canada.
Check out these small towns that have major historical significance and breathtaking views that will transport you to a winter wonderland dream.
11. Dawson City, Yukon (NW)
Dawson City is a historic Klondike Gold Rush town that is home to eight national historic sites. The Yukon is also home to the ethereal Northern Lights and Dawson City is one of the best small towns in Canada to spot the magic. While embracing its rich heritage of the Klondike Gold Rush, Dawson City provides a unique celebration of the holidays for all to enjoy.
Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall
Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall opened in 1971 and is Canada’s oldest gambling hall. The building is home to some of Dawson’s city’s festive events and gatherings. Walk through a time machine when visiting the iconic casino and celebrate the holidays in true local fashion.
Celebration Of Lights
The Celebration of Lights is an annual Dawson City classic and allows residents to participate in some friendly competition. This year’s Community Christmas Lights Contest will be hosted from December 1 to 18 where the public is invited to vote on the best light displays in Dawson. The festivities also include a 12 Days of Christmas Scavenger Hunt, perfect for families to get into the holiday spirit. Twelve numbered ornaments will be hidden throughout the town while residents and visitors can grab their winter gear and set out on an adventure to find them all.
Dawson City’s Annual Boat Parade
The Dawson City Boat Parade is a unique tradition where residents drive through town towing decorated riverboats that light up the area. The 20th Annual “Flotilla” will parade around town on December 17 beginning at 6 p.m. These distinguished holiday celebrations of the festive season make Dawson one of the most visited charming small towns in Canada.
12. Banff, Alberta
Banff is a picturesque small town in Alberta within Banff National Park. Nestled in the Canadian Rockies, Alberta National Park is Canada’s oldest and features over 2,564 square miles of parkland teeming with flora and fauna. On the main avenue, the town of Banff is known for its artisanal boutiques and cafés integrated with the more modern souvenir shops and French-style hotels. Catch the Northern Lights from the town of Banff, adventure in some winter sports, or enjoy some warm fireside dinners and cozy holiday markets this winter.
Banff is home to three main ski resorts: Lake Louise Ski Resort, Mount Norquay, and Banff Sunshine. The breathtaking view and powdery snow make for the perfect atmosphere to ski and snowboard. You can also venture out and try different winter activities such as mountain biking, tubing, and more.
Hot Chocolate Trail
This unique offering is perfect for chocolate lovers. Embark on a sweet adventure with a variety of hot chocolate samples that celebrate traditional classics and creative concoctions. Check out Lake Louise’s Hot Chocolate Trail, which includes more than 20 cafés and restaurants that offer a taste of the holidays.
Canada is home to some of the most quaint and charming small towns that will make your holiday season one to remember. With all that the different destinations have to offer, there is no wrong place to spend your winter wonderland in Canada this year.