Christmas has always been my favourite holiday season - I love the music, the decorations, the holiday traditions, the giddy kids, and the feeling of happiness that fills the air. Our family seems to attend the same events and take part in the same Christmas activities year after year though and I wonder sometimes if we should branch out a bit and try something new.
But, upon reflection, I think that I love these activities precisely because they have become family traditions and an integral part of our holiday celebrations so we'll continue with the same old things but leave open the possibility of trying something new.
We are lucky to live just a few minutes from downtown Toronto so our favourite things to do each holiday season include activities in both Oakville and in the city.
1. Christmas Tree Lighting and Santa Claus Parade:
The Christmas season in Oakville kicks off with the lighting of the Towne Square Christmas tree downtown on the third Friday of November. Crowds brave sometimes chilly weather for a carol sing-along, hot chocolate or cider and the official lighting of the tree by the Mayor. The following morning the Santa Claus Parade makes its way through the downtown area while excited kids anticipate the arrival of the jolly old elf.
2. Shopping in Downtown Oakville:
Shopping in the charming stores of downtown Oakville with its small town atmosphere is a welcome escape from hectic malls and chain stores. It's fun to admire the beautifully decorated windows while strolling downtown and shopping for unique gifts and on weekends shoppers shouldn't be surprised to find strolling carolers in their midst.
Christmas window shopping in downtown Oakville
3. Casa Loma at Christmas:
Many people from outside the area are surprised to learn that Toronto has its very own castle on a 5 acre estate overlooking the heart of the city. Casa Loma is at its most beautiful when decorated for Christmas and that is when I love to visit. The majestic 25 foot tree in the entry hall, the strolling carolers, Santa's Workshop and seasonal entertainment all get me in the Christmas spirit. This year Casa Loma is being transformed into Mozart's Magical Castle and I'll be writing all about it at Travel Mamas so stay tuned.
Casa Loma at Christmas
4. A Christmas Pantomime:
2012 marks the 17th year that Ross Petty has presented his fractured fairy tales at Toronto's historic Elgin Theatre and our family has been in the audience since 2001. Kids love the raucous productions where they are encouraged to interact with the actors and boo the villain and parents enjoy the fun music and pop culture references. This year's production is Snow White: The Deliciously Dopey Family Musical and I can't wait to see what hilarious antics the Evil Stepmother (played by Ross Petty, of course) gets up to.
5. Christmas Market in the Distillery District:
Last year we started a new holiday tradition when we attended a Christmas market in Toronto. The Distillery Historic District hosts the Christmas Market which is intended to capture the old world charm of the European street markets with market stalls selling handcrafted products and delicious baked goods set up in the pedestrian-only district. This free annual events also features family-friendly entertainment including musicians, carolers and children's choirs as well as children's activities in the Santa's Lane area.
Christmas market in Toronto's historic Distillery District
I'd love to hear more about the local holiday traditions that your family participates in and if you happen to live in the Toronto area then feel free to suggest some new activities for me to try.
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