Winter fun in Ontario

Canada’s most diverse province is transformed in winter by lights, festivities and a blizzard of seasonal fun. Charlotte Flach checks out what’s on offer

From frozen falls to Snowflake Kingdoms, Ontario’s cities, towns and villages embrace the colder months with a full programme of winter events for both locals and visitors alike…

Christmas fun in Toronto

Enjoy world-class festive shopping, stock up on Yuletide-themed crafts and wrap your hands around a mug of mulled wine at the Christmas Market in the Distillery District.

Head to one of Toronto’s shopping malls for gifts that will outlast the winter: the Eaton Centre pulls out all the stops, with dazzling lights, awe-inspiring decorations and a giant 50-foot Christmas tree. Stop by Yorkdale Mall and the PATH for shopping, while the Cavalcade of Lights Festival at Nathan Phillips Square illuminates dark evenings.

Get active in Ottawa

Ontario canal

For three weekends each February, Ottawa stages its popular Winterlude festival. The icy celebration revolves around the city’s iconic Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visitors can ice skate, try their hand at ice hockey or watch the crazy Bed Races, which sees decorated beds slide down the canal at top speed. Snowflake Kingdom is a gigantic snow playground for kids, while several museums host special events and seasonal programming, with opportunities to learn about and connect with Indigenous culture.

Hang out at Niagara

Ontario niagara

Niagara Falls is even more breathtaking in winter. Take a Journey Behind the Falls tour to get up close to the spray: seeing Niagara Falls at or near a frozen state during a winter trip is a sight to behold! Year-round activities include helicopter tours, which provide unique aerial views, and an adrenalin-inducing zip line. Hit the Icewine Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The special dessert wine is made of grapes that froze prior to the vintage whilst still on the grapevine – they form the central component of three weeks of music, tours and events.

Glide into luxury at Muskoka

Ontario resort

Nestled among rugged hills, tranquil lakes and brilliantly clear skies, JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa offers a luxurious winter retreat on Lake Rosseau. Hotel activities include snow shoeing, ice skating, cross country skiing, nature walks, marshmallow roasting around the fire pit, extensive spa facilities, heated pools and a hot tub. Visit the Muskoka Lakes Farm & Winery in nearby Bala for romantic night time skating and mulled cranberry wine.