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Looking For A Holiday Escape? Look To The Northern Lights (of Canada!)

By Caitlin Leonard, Contributing Writer, November 30, 2017

Winter is almost here and the celebrating is beginning to get into full swing. Where better to feel the crisp winter air or celebrate all things snow-related than in Canada? Just a short drive from the Northeast portion of the United States, or a quick flight away, make your plans now to plug into some of these seasonal delights from our ‘Neighbors to the North’!



National Ballet of Canada / The Nutcracker — December 9 – 30

The National Ballet of Canada returns with its holiday tradition this year — a sparkling stage performance of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. Originally created for the National Ballet of Canada in 1995 by Artistic Director James Kudelka, this Christmas classic has continued thrilling audiences throughout the holiday season with brilliant choreography and dazzling costumes.

Toronto Christmas Market — November 16 – December 23

This holiday tradition is a unique and fully Canadian experience. Located in the city’s Distillery Historic District, the market has been dubbed one of the world’s best Christmas markets by several travel guides. There will be caroling, dance performances, twinkling Christmas lights, and of course vendors with locally made food and gifts for the season.

There will be a special appearance by the European Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, on December 5 at 6pm.

Admission is $6, but will be free of charge from Tuesday to Friday until 5pm.  Open hours vary throughout the week. For more information click here.

Toronto Symphony Orchestra / Home Alone in Concert — November 30 – December 2

For this special event, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra will perform John Williams’ Oscar-nominated score for the screening of this classic Christmas movie — Home Alone. For more information click here.

A Christmas Carol — November 24 – December 31

Ross Petty Productions presents the premiere of A Christmas Carol, a “family musical with a Scrooge loose” at Toronto’s historic Elgin Theatre. This silly version of the class Christmas story is sure to bring laughter to young and old alike.



Cirque du Soleil – Crystal — December 20 – 31

Cirque du Soleil will be performing Crystal at Montreal’s Bell Centre this holiday season. This show is the first Cirque has ever mounted to be performed on ice, and features world-class acrobats and ice skaters. While the show will be touring and playing other cities in North America, this is a chance to see the company perform in the city where it all first started. To purchase tickets click here.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin; courtesy of artist.

Orchestre Métropolitain / Handel’s Messiah — December 22 — 23

Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin – the Montréal homeboy who will become music director of the Metropolitan Opera in New York beginning in 2020 – conducts Handel’s Messiah with the Orchestre Métropolitain for the first time, with the collaboration of the Chœur Métropolitain and star soloists Carolyn Sampson, Christophe Dumaux, Pascal Charbonneau and Andrew Foster-Williams. This is sure to be a memorable performance of this classic. For more information click here.

Santas Are Taking Over The Stewart Museum — through January 7, 2018

A private history museum on Saint Helen’s Island (Île Sainte-Hélène) in Montreal has a unique holiday attraction. The Stewart Museum focuses on Quebec heritage and discovery of the New World in Canada, usually known for its collection of authentic maps, weapons, rare books and scientific instruments. However, for the holidays there will be a rare feature added — an exhibition on the artistic evolution of the Santa Claus. Thirty different figurines will be on display, crafted by American and Quebecois artists, to offer a look at the history behind this important figure in the Christmas tradition.

Another exciting aspect of the collection to marvel at is a lavish 18th Century style doll castle, equipped with a ballroom and delicate dancers that come to life at the sound of music. This 1975 creation by a soldier turned toy furniture maker, Rudolph Szálasi, comes all the way from German Bavaria.

Admission is free for children 12 and under and $5 for those 13 and older, and for a special treat the real Santa Claus will be visiting the Museum on December 3rd! For more information click here.

 A Victorian Christmas at the Cartier’s — December 2 — 31

Sir George-Étienne Cartier’s beautiful Victorian house in Old Montreal is open to the public for a special Christmas-themed event. The Canadian father of Confederation was part of Montreal’s upper middle-class in the 19th Century. The house will be festively decorated, and guests can enjoy a sweet old-fashioned hot drink, Wassail, by the fireplace, take a souvenir photo with period accessories, or kiss beneath the mistletoe. Admission is free.



VanDusen Festival of Lights — December 1 – January 7

The city of Vancouver will present the VanDusen Festival of Lights again this year, offering a magical wonderland to wander in surrounded by Canadian snow. Brilliant and colorful displays of lights will decorate the gardens with the holiday spirit.

Tickets are available online and include a ride on the garden’s carousel.

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra / A Traditional Christmas — December 8 – 17

This year The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra celebrates the 25th anniversary of their annual holiday programming, A Traditional Christmas. The classic Christmas concert will join the orchestra with The University of British Colombia Opera Ensemble, and EnChor, a celebrated choir for those 55 and older presenting many of the classic chestnuts, and a few new ones too!


Cover: Christmas Carolers at the Holiday Market in Toronto; courtesy of the organizers.


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