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It’s a Winter Wonderland at the Winterstart Festival

By Ashley Materi


With the Winterstart Festival quickly approaching, it’s the most wonderful time of the year here in the Bow Valley. From November 12 to December 12, events around Banff National Park will have you looking forward to the falling snow and magical atmosphere.


‘Tis the season

By Trevor J. Adams

Parades, live theatre, concerts galore and more—Halifax is abuzz with Christmas magic.

November and December are lively months in Halifax, with dozens of special events to celebrate the holiday season. Read on for our favourites. With an exciting mix of traditional classics and new events, there’s plenty here for the whole family.


Holiday Parade of Lights. Photo: Will Roberts

Holiday Parade of Lights. Photo: Will Roberts

The Holiday Parade of Lights on November 21 marks the unofficial start of the holiday season in Halifax, as some 100,000 spectators line downtown streets to see dozens of floats and musical acts. Also on November 21,

Halifax Citadel National Historic Site hosts its annual Victorian Christmas, sharing Christmas traditions dating back to colonial days. The event continues on November 22.

Victorian Christmas at Halifax Citadel. Photo: Parks Canada

Victorian Christmas at Halifax Citadel. Photo: Parks Canada

Back downtown on November 28, Grand Parade square in front of Halifax City Hall hosts the city’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting, a family-friendly celebration with live entertainment and a visit from Santa. The party moves across the harbour the next weekend, as the park at Sullivan’s Pond hosts the Dartmouth Christmas Tree Lighting on December 5, where the highlights include the Santa Claus Express Train and fireworks.


Back for its 38th year, Christmas at the Forum is one of Canada’s largest annual indoor markets of its type, with some 450 vendors offering art, gifts, antiques, and food. The Halifax Forum on Windsor Street hosts on November 6 to 8.


Alexander Weimann

Alexander Weimann joins Symphony Nova Scotia for Handel’s Messiah

Symphony Nova Scotia offers holiday concerts galore, with Bach’s Christmas Oratorio on November 28 and 29, The Nutcracker (presented with Mermaid Theatre and Halifax Dance) on December 4 to 13, and Handel’s Messiah on December 18 and 19.

A King’s Christmas is back on December 13. A special guest narrator joins the King’s College Chapel Choir at All Saint’s Cathedral on Martello Street for seasonal songs and stories. Paul Halley directs.

The holidays get a Celtic twist on December 20, as the Barra MacNeils perform A Cape Breton Christmas at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

Barra MacNeils

Barra MacNeils


Beloved humourist and storyteller Stuart McLean brings his Vinyl Café Christmas Show to the Scotiabank Centre on Duke Street on November 20. December sees the return of a popular holiday-themed comedy event on December 11 and 12. The annual Ha Ha Halidays event comes to the World Trade and Convention Centre on December 11 and 12, with a lineup that includes Australian funny guy Jim Dailakis and Newfoundlander John Sheehan.


Neptune Theatre’s long-awaited holiday production begins on November 28. A Year With Frog and Toad brings Arnold Lobel’s character to the stage in a Tony-nominated musical. The holiday pantomime at Theatre Arts Guild is another seasonal mainstay. It’s always a lively, rollicking show with lots of audience participation. This year, The Emperor’s New Clothes runs from November 26 to December 12.


Where to Get the Best Holiday Drinks + Treats

Edmonton’s local dining destinations are showcasing the familiar flavours of Christmas in innovative new ways. Here are 12 mouth-watering holiday treats to help you have a delicious 12 Days of Christmas!

1. The Grand Basil Poinsettia Martini can be enjoyed in the luxurious Confederation Lounge at the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald (10064-100 St.). The mix of strawberries and basil give the the drink a tangy, lemonade-like flavour and, though the drink is made with an elaborate mix of vodka, Chambord, and Grand Marnier, it is an easy drink to sip and savour. WHERE Edmonton attended the Fairmont’s media holiday party where this festive drink was served and eagerly enjoyed by everyone at the event!

The Fairmont Hotel MacDonald has a festive holiday display in their lobby that includes an elaborate gingerbread replica of the hotel. Be sure to stop and check it out on your way to the Confederation Lounge for a Grand Basil Poinsettia Martini!

Hot Tip: You don’t need to be a guest at the hotel to enjoy a drink in the Confederation Lounge! Everyone is welcome!


Hot Entertainment: The Top Vancouver Holiday Events in December

VanDusen Botanical Garden’s Festival of Lights. Photo by R. Chan

Ho ho ho! It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, with a chill in the air and seasonal festivities filling up the calendar.

Larger-than-life characters encourage singing along in The Magic of Santa! (Dec. 21 to 22).

Irving Berlin classics such as “Blue Skies” and “Sisters” sparkle in White Christmas: The Musical (to Dec. 23), based on the beloved film.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet puts a uniquely Canadian spin on a Christmas classic in The Nutcracker (Dec. 14 to 16).

David Sedaris reveals the down-and-dirty truth about surviving a job as a Macy’s elf in SantaLand Diaries (to Dec. 22).

The Christmas Carol Project (Dec. 16 to 18) is a musical interpretation of Charles Dickens’ timeless tale about Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim.

The Festival of Lights (Dec. 7 to Jan. 1) fills VanDusen Botanical Garden with more than a million twinkling lights.

Winter Harp celebrates the season with several concerts of harps and rare medieval instruments (Dec. 12, 13, 16, 22).

Click here for more Christmas event listings.—Sheri Radford

Unique Holiday Shopping: Ten Thousand Villages

With trends towards “responsible consumerism”, and avoiding big-box stores in favour of local or socially-concious retailers, shopping at Ten Thousand Villages (10432-82 Ave) is an easy choice this holiday season. This not-for-profit, fair trade retailer promotes “giving back”, carrying only products that are handmade in developing communities all over the world. If you’ve made a commitment to shop responsibly this Christmas — or perhaps you’re looking for a unique gift for the person on your list who is impossible to buy for — the products at Ten Thousand Villages can help make your whole holiday socially-concious.

Unique gift ideas and holiday decor await at Ten Thousand Villages, where everything is handmade and fair trade.


Hot Date: Christmas Miracle

NOVEMBER 22-DEC EMBER 15 Do you believe in miracles? Seemingly blessed, the Nowaks receive a visit from the Virgin Mary at their family barbershop on Christmas Eve in Miracle on South Division Street at The John Hirsch Theatre at MTC Mainstage. After the event, the family begins taking extra special care of their statue of the Blessed Mother, but a secret about to be revealed by one of their own will have them questioning their faith and familial identity. 174 Market Ave, 204-942-6537 or here for tickets and more information.

A Halifax Holiday

Jeremy Webb's A Christmas Carol

Jeremy Webb returns as Scrooge in a Christmas Carol.

With its rich history and diverse population, Halifax has many beloved traditions and events to mark the Christmas season. The unofficial kickoff to Halifax’s holidays comes on November 17 with the Holiday Parade of Lights. This popular annual parade will draw some 100,000 spectators, so stake out a good vantage point early. The parade begins on Barrington Street, wending its way through the downtown, west on Spring Garden Road. There will be music, entertainment, floats galore and a visit from Santa Claus.

The action returns downtown on November 24, as Grand Parade square in front of City Hall hosts the city’s Christmas Tree Lighting. Once again, there will be family-friendly entertainment and a visit from St. Nick. If you miss that, you get a do-over on December 1. Drop by Sullivan’s Pond for the Dartmouth Christmas Tree Lighting . The agenda includes a concert by Razzmatazz, fireworks and free rides on the Santa Claus Express Train.

As you’d expect, there are holiday concerts aplenty as well. On November 28, Cape Breton songstress Rita MacNeil performs her annual Christmas show at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue. Joined by pianist Frank Mills, she presents traditional holiday tunes.

And it just wouldn’t be Christmas without the return of two wildly popular annual productions by Symphony Nova Scotia. Running from December 7 to 13 is an elaborate production of The Nutcracker. Tchaikovsky’s heartwarming story of a
little girl whisked into a fairytale land features performers from Halifax Dance and elaborate puppetry by Mermaid Theatre. Up next at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue is the Symphony’s annual performance of Handel’s Messiah. Guest soloists and the 80-voice Symphony Chorus give full impact to the Baroque masterpiece.

If you’re not in the holiday spirit by December 23, return to the Dalhousie Arts Centre for the annual Barra MacNeils Christmas concert. Another annual holiday favourite, this one pays homage to the province’s Celtic roots, as the Cape Breton group shares old-time music.

November and December are jammed with holiday plays and stage shows, too. The holiday show at Neptune Theatre on Argyle Street this year is Elf: The Musical. Based on the popular Will Ferrell comedy, it’s the fairytale story of Buddy. Raised as one of Santa’s elves, he discovers he’s human and heads to New York to track down his father.

On December 10, celebrations take a hilarious twist with Tis the Season. Cape Breton comedians Bette MacDonald and Maynard Morrison team up for a sidesplitting look at the holidays. If it never quite feels like Christmas until you see Scrooge, so drop by the Cunard Centre on December 13 for Jeremy Webb’s one-man performance of A Christmas Carol. After performing the show for several Christmases, Webb is an expert at bringing Scrooge’s uplifting tale to life.

Finally, say good-bye to 2012 and welcome 2013 on December 31 with the annual New Year’s Eve celebrations in Grand Parade square on Barrington Street. Beginning at 9:30 p.m., local TV personalities host a rollicking all-ages celebration, with live music and a spectacular fireworks display at midnight.

Hot Dates: Get Started on Holiday Shopping at Two Vancouver Markets

Tasci Handmade Glass, available at Circle Craft Christmas Market

November 7 to 11

‘Tis the season for markets aplenty—Christmas is, after all, just around the corner—so start tucking away gifts early to avoid holiday stress. The Circle Craft Christmas Market (Nov. 7 to 11) features goodies by Canadian artisans (including Tasci Handmade Glass, pictured), and Make It! Vancouver (Nov. 8 to 11) highlights one-of-a-kind handmade items.—Jennifer Patterson

Where.ca’s 12 Cities of Christmas

Quebec City's Rue du Petit-Champlain decorated for the holidays. Photo by Jean-François Bergeron, Enviro Foto.

In this vast country of ours, landscapes, cultures, climates and in some cases Christmas traditions vary widely.

Here’s just a taste of the holiday season, from gorgeous decorations to quirky annual events, in top destinations across Canada.

Start the slideshow… (more…)

5 Steps to a Very Newfoundland Christmas

The annual Mummers Festival Parade (Photo by Christopher Deacon)

By Candice Walsh

Everyone has their own Christmas or holiday traditions, but in Newfoundland, sometimes we do things a little, well, different. Here’s how to celebrate the holidays like a Newfoundlander. (more…)

New App Tracks Santa’s Christmas Flight

NORAD Tracks Santa screenshot on an iPhone.

By Amanda Yiu

The countdown is on for Santa’s takeoff from the North Pole to all corners of the world, and this year you can track his amazing journey in real-time on the eve of Christmas with a new, free mobile app from NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command). (more…)

7 Performances to See in Toronto this Holiday Season

The Four Season's Centre's Nutcracker. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

Between now and New Year’s you’ll find no shortage of things to do in Toronto, what with the sing-alongs and music performances and the shopping. (And even more shopping!)

But if culture is what you seek, check out Torontoist’s fab holiday shows round-up. They’ve reviewed of the seven theatre, dance and comedy performances from now through January 1 that range from family-friendly (the Nutcracker and the Wizard of Oz) to hilariously racy and quite possibly raunchy (Second City’s “Dysfunctional Holiday Revue” and Tarragon Theatre’s “A Very Lupe Xmas”).