Photo: winterfestivaloflights on Instagram
Although we are now forced to brave the cold as winter is officially upon us, visiting one of the many winter lights festivals across Ontario can help you truly capture the holiday spirit in the air. Aside from Toronto’s annual Cavalcade of Lights at Nathan Philips Square, some of the most spectacular light displays are found a couple hours away from the city, in charming towns like Niagara Falls, Simcoe and Owen Sound. If you’re looking for a festive weekend getaway, or simply hoping to continue some winter traditions with the family, check out these vibrant seasonal festivals, which are filled with twinkling bulbs and holiday cheer.
Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls
Celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, Canada’s largest lights festival is promising to showcase their brightest exhibit yet. Located throughout the Niagara Falls region, attendees can travel along an 8km route, which is said to be illuminated by more than two million light displays. This festival is known as one of the most enchanting attractions in Niagara, expecting nearly a million visitors from around the world. It kicks off on November 18th and runs through the end of January, with several programs organized to coincide with the festival, including weekly fireworks, concerts and laser light shows.
Christmas Panorama River of Lights Festival in Simcoe
Founded in 1958, this annual festival of lights adorns the town of Simcoe, with over 60 displays spread across the town’s downtown parks. You can expect an extremely scenic experience, since the vivid colours of the lights are reflected along the Lynn River. A full tour throughout the festival takes approximately 45 minutes, with the option of travelling on a horse-drawn trolley on weekends throughout December. The festival’s opening night is November 25th, with its final night on December 31st.
Festival of Northern Lights in Owen Sound
Since 1987, Owen Sound has hosted a holiday lights festival, which initially began as an annual community tradition but is now a must-see spectacle of astonishing lit-up art. With nearly 400 displays along a 25 kilometre trail, the town’s riverbanks, harbour and popular Harrison Park, are illuminated with installations of singing snowmen and much more. Considering the town’s close proximity to Blue Mountain, this could be an ideal stop during a cold weather getaway. The festival is slated to run from November 18th till January 7th.