From enormous, decorated trees and jolly melodies to homemade hot cocoa and freshly-baked cookies, it’s without a doubt the holiday season is the most magical time of the year. However, there’s one all-time holiday favourite everyone looks forward to: the electric beauty of Christmas lights. From November to January, Ontario transforms its cities and towns into winter wonderlands, illuminated by hundreds (even thousands) of bright holiday lights. And chances are, you won’t need to travel far to find a winter light festival near you.

Grab your mittens and scarves, and treat yourself to a dose of holiday cheer. Whether its from the comfort of your vehicle or (socially-distanced) on foot, here are some of the best places to admire twinkling Christmas lights in Ontario.

Winter Festival of Lights

Niagara Falls, ON

More than 3 million bright lights illuminate Niagara Falls during the city’s annual Ontario Power Generation Winter Festival of Lights, Canada’s largest free outdoor light festival. The over three-decades-old tradition transforms the Dufferin Islands, Niagara Parkway and countless streets across the city into a twinkling winter wonderland. 

Admire dazzling displays of traditional holiday images, woodland wildlife and true Canadian symbols. This year’s edition of the Winter Festival of Lights features a giant gingerbread house, larger-than-life polar bears, a magnificent castle and — of course — Rudolph the Red Nosed reindeer. You can see these spectacular displays from November 12, 2020 through January 102021.

Magic of Lights

Nepean, ON

A suburb of the nation’s capital, Nepean annually hosts the Magic of Lights, a 2‑kilometre drive-through that gives car-bound visitors the opportunity to see more than 300 spectacular animated displays. Situated on Wesley Clover Parks Campground, the festival’s light lineup features everything from an enchanting tunnel of lights and a snowflake forest to a candy cane lane and a backflipping Santa. 

Pile everyone in the car because a portion of the proceeds are donated to the Ottawa Senators Foundation. Be prepared to be completely immersed in the holiday season every night from November 13, 2020 through January 92021.

Festival of Northern Lights

Owen Sound, ON

As many as 300 animated displays and 25 kilometres of lights await you at the Festival of Northern Lights in Owen Sound. Each year, the Southern Georgian Bay city celebrates the holiday season by illuminating Harrison Park and its downtown streets along the Sydenham River.

If you need help getting into the holiday spirit, the Festival of Northern Lights is the place to go. The over three-decades-old festival features a collection of larger-than-life displays, including an Infinity Tunnel and the Winter Wonderland Walking Path. Bundle up and head out to see the magic from November 21, 2020 through January 32021.

Simcoe Panorama

Simcoe, ON

Downtown Simcoe gets turned into a winter wonderland with its signature River of Lights and beautiful displays during the Simcoe Panorama. Drive through the oldest light festival in Ontario and admire the trees wrapped in twinkling lights as well as the handful of displays dedicated to Christmas and the holiday season. As an integral part of the holiday celebration, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take in the magnificent displays from December 5, 2020 through January 32021.

Many homes in Norfolk County make it their mission to make the region extra merry and bright during the holiday season. Extend your drive from the Simcoe Panorama and head on the Light Up the County’ tour to experience some impressive home light displays.

Lakeside Festival of Lights

Burlington, ON

With Lake Ontario as the backdrop, Burlington welcomes the holiday season each year with its magical display of lights in Spencer Smith Park. The Lakeside Festival of Lights evokes the magic and imagination of the season by bathing the trees in dazzling lights and through holiday themed displays, including life-sized polar bears, colourful reindeer, and Santa Clause himself.

Take a casual stroll to view the Burlington Christmas lights up close or simply drive-by and admire from the comfort of your vehicle. Either way, expect to see as much as 60 bright displays illuminate Spencer Smith Park. Drop by any evening between November 27, 2020 and January 8, 2021 to see the displays take over downtown during the Burlington Festival of Lights.

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