Christmas in the big city is a beautiful thing, but nothing compares to the charming atmosphere in Ontario’s small towns. The historic buildings, quaint boutiques, and festive decor make this special season one of the best times to visit, not to mention all of the local holiday markets and twinkling light displays you can experience while you’re there. Supporting local has truly never been so fun.

Here are 7 of the most festive destinations to spend a weekend in Ontario this holiday season.

Blue Mountain Village

Ontario’s popular Blue Mountain Village is lighting up for the holidays! Sidewalks and shop windows are decorated with garlands, wreaths and bows, with twinkling lights illuminating your stroll. Take a trip down the 1 km glowing trail, hit up the boutiques and restaurants, and maybe do a little skiing while you’re at it. Hands down one of the most charming spots to spend a weekend during this festive time of year.

Almonte

 

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Known as Ontario’s “friendly town,” you can count on a big dose of holiday cheer in charming and picturesque Almonte. The town’s historic Mill St transforms into a real-life holiday postcard this time of year and with some gently falling snow, you’ll feel as if you’re the star of your own Christmas movie. The scenic mill town on the Mississippi River near Ottawa is full of shops, restaurants, and elegant inns, making it the perfect weekend destination.

Perth

The sleepy heritage town of Perth is beautiful all year round, but especially during the holiday season. The town is hosting all kinds of Christmas events this year, including a farmer’s Christmas market, a festival of lights, a Santa Claus parade and a festival of good cheer — you can see the entire schedule here. Plus, you could spend all day strolling through the decorated streets and across the scenic bridges over the river.

Niagara-on-the-Lake

If there’s anywhere that does the festive season right, it’s Niagara-on-the-Lake. The lovely waterfront town is decorated beautifully during the holidays and the surrounding heritage homes only add to its charm. Between The Charles, Queen’s Landing, and Harbour House Hotel, you’ll be spoiled for choice with dreamy accommodations. And while you’re there, you can stop at one of the many nearby vineyards for some icewine.

Stratford

This gorgeous city isn’t just known for its summertime theatre festival. In November and December, the town is decked out with the colours of the season. The historic brick buildings and Victorian architecture make it even prettier, especially with a layer of snow on their roofs and windowsills. In addition to its great restaurants, Stratford also offers a Christmas Trail shopping discount at its local stores.

Elora

 

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What better place to spend a holiday season weekend than in Ontario’s “most beautiful village?” When it comes to scenic views and festive vibes, Elora does not disappoint. The town is hosting a Starlight Shopping event in November and if you have gifts to cross off your list, you’ll want to take a peek inside of the adorable boutiques that line the streets of this quaint destination. If you’re in the mood to spoil yourself, you can visit the iconic Elora Mill & Spa for some relaxation.

Unionville

You’ll hardly have to travel outside the city to get a taste of small-town Christmas charm in Unionville. The Markham neighbourhood will be lighting up its Main St strip from November to January, with carolers, decorations and events to make spirits bright. The area is full of charming shops, restaurants, spas, and bars, and you can easily spend an afternoon exploring them all.