*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.
When the holiday decorations go up in December the whole world begins to shimmer with magic. Every car ride or stroll is filled with wonder as we drink in the night filled with sparkling holiday lights of all colours.
For the next month or longer, villages, hamlets, and towns in Ontario’s Highlands will be lit with the festive spirit and an invitation to come wander here and feel merry for a while. These holiday displays are worth a wander down streets lined with trees laden with snowy boughs and stars twinkling in the frosty air.
Come feel the magic of the season and light up the holidays with a safe wander through these eight spots transformed by brilliant illuminations. Tip your head back and drink in the sights that will warm your heart and spread good cheer and good will this season.
Celebrate the Lights in Smiths Falls
Where: Victoria Park, Smiths Falls
When: Nov. 21 to Dec. 31
Each December, Smiths Falls comes to life with festive displays that make for a true Celebration of Lights. Walk or drive through the displays alongside the Rideau Canal and bask in the community’s holiday spirit, on full and brilliant display. Afterwards head for a hot toddy for the grown-ups and a hot chocolate for the kiddies at Bowie’s just a short walk from the lights.
Light up the Valley in Renfrew County
Where: Pembroke, Petawawa, Laurentian Valley, Whitewater Region
Take a road trip through the communities of Pembroke, Petawawa, and the Laurentian Valley and Whitewater Region and drink in the sights of the holiday lights as these communities come together to “Light Up the Valley.” Be sure to drive by Memorial Cenotaph Park in Downtown Pembroke, known for the holiday displays there. Head out anytime after Nov. 30 to drink in the sights, Valley style. Find a map of the destinations here.
When: Parade: Dec. 12 at 3 p.m.; Lights: December
Santa is coming to town in Madoc, and you can see him up close and in person on Dec. 12. Head to the parking lot of Foley’s Bus Lines for a drive by parade that will inspire and light your holiday spirit. After your tour head to downtown Madoc to tour the more than 40 Christmas trees lit up to celebrate the holidays. Don’t miss a visit to Hidden Goldmine Bakery to cap off your ‘Christmas in the Village’ experience and pick up some festive sweet treats, like their famous butter tarts.
Walk Through a Holiday Movie Set in Almonte
Where: Downtown Almonte
Wander downtown Almonte during the month of December and be treated to a Hollywood-style display of festivity. Almonte is so picture-perfect it has been the location for more than a dozen holiday movies and one stroll down the cute downtown streets dusted with sparkling snow and you’ll see why. This Christmas, the whole town of Almonte is participating in a house decorating contest so be sure to take a tour through town while you’re there to see the fun and festive displays.
Sing O Christmas Tree in Pakenham
Where: Cedar Hill Christmas Tree Farm, Pakenham
When: All season
Walk or take a wagon ride through a wintry evergreen forest at Cedar Hill Christmas Tree Farm and pick out a Christmas tree to take home for your very own. Stop on the covered bridge over the Indian River to see the Christmas lights light up the farm store and property and reflect off the water.
Drive Thru a Parade in Tweed
Where: Tweed Fairgrounds
When: Dec. 5 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
This year Tweed’s annual holiday parade will look a little different – lighted floats will be set up on the track at the Tweed fairgrounds and vehicles will drive through the parade area while the floats stay in place. Tour the lighted displays sponsored by local businesses and be infused with the holiday spirit in Tweed.
Peek Inside a Festival of Lights in Perth
Where: Crystal Palace, downtown Perth
Each December the Crystal Palace in downtown Perth is the scene for a community festive display that will warm your heart. Wander around the all glass structure and peek in on dozens of Christmas trees, all decorated and lit up for all to see.
Bask in 120,000 Lights in Ompah
Where: Riverhill Farm & Fine Food
When: Nov. 28 – Dec. 30, 2020
Cost: Free, donations accepted
Every December when the sun sets, Riverhill Farm in Ompah comes to life with brilliant displays of more than 120,000 lights that blink, sing Elvis songs, and literally light up the night. Drive through the rolling farmland and wonder at the magic of the season. Wagon rides and hot chocolate will keep you warm and cozy while you wander.