With the holiday season well under way many attractions are offering seasonal programming and Parks Canada is no exception. Coast to coast, National Historic Sites and National Parks of Canada are celebrating the holidays as well as the winter season with special events and winter activities.
Here are a few examples of National Historic Sites and National Parks across the country that have special holiday events or offer activities that will get the family outside and enjoying the Canadian winter.
Holiday Events at Parks Canada Sites
Woodside National Historic Site
At Kitchener, Ontario's Woodside National Historic Site, the boyhood home of William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada's longest serving Prime Minister, is decorated for a Victorian era Christmas. During the festive season, visitors can walk through the richly decorated rooms and learn how the King family celebrated. Special holiday programming includes Christmas carolers, popular activities such as decorating cookie ornaments and writing letters to Santa the Victorian way (by dipping pen in ink), and a lamplight evening event featuring crackling fires, roasted chestnuts and hot apple cider. Advance registration is required for the seasonal programming.
Halifax Citadel National Historic Site
At the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, visitors to the historic fort can enjoy a Victorian Christmas with the 78th Highlanders including crafts and activities, games, Christmas carols and choir performances, hot cider and a children's parade with Father Christmas. There will even be an opportunity to pose for a Victorian-themed Christmas photo. Admission is free with a non-perishable food or cash donation to Feed Nova Scotia.
Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site
Visitors to the Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site in Montréal will have an opportunity to immerse themselves in Christmas preparations at a 19th century bourgeois home and learn about the origins of some of today's Christmas traditions from characters dressed in period costumes.
Fort Malden National Historic Site
During "A Garrison Christmas" at the Fort Malden National Historic Site in Amherstburg in southwestern Ontario, visitors can check out how soldiers celebrated Christmas 200 years ago and enjoy cider, cookies, games and other activities.
Fort George National Historic Site
In Niagara-on-the-Lake, the Fort George Garrison Christmas, held over the weekend of December 13-14, 2014, is a family-friendly celebration that includes activities, crafts, games, hot cider and other treats as well as scheduled musket demonstrations.
Fort Langley National Historic Site
From December 20th - January 4th, visitors to Fort Langley National Historic Site in British Columbia can enjoy Heritage Holiday at the Fort. In addition to the daily guided tours, blacksmithing and barrel-making demonstrations, there will also be costumed interpreters roasting chestnuts and telling stories around the cozy fireplace in the Cooperage.
Winter Activities at Canadian National Parks and Historic Sites
The fun at Canada's National Parks and National Historic Sites doesn't stop just because the temperatures have dropped and snow is falling. Here are a few examples of sites that have fun activities available all winter long. Check the Parks Canada website for more information about winter activities at Canada's National Parks and National Historic Sites.
La Mauricie National Park
Families will love the opportunity to spend time outdoors this winter at la Mauricie National Park which is located halfway between Montréal and Québec City. Visitors can spend the day enjoying the park's exceptional cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails and head home afterward or stay overnight in winter accommodations. La Mauricie National Park has three types of overnight accommodations available - Parks Canada oTENTik tents, Wabenaki and Andrew Lodges, and the Rivière à la Pêche campground.
Cave and Basin National Historic Site
The Cave and Basin National Historic Site commemorates the birthplace of Canada's National Park system which began here in 1885. On December 7th, 2014 the Christmas season will be celebrated at the site with an outdoor concert on the historic pool deck - Sing-Along Messiah at the Cave and Basin with the Bow Valley Chorus. This winter from December 6th until March 28th, 2015 the site will also stay open late for Magic Winter Saturday Nights.
Rideau Canal National Historic Site
If you are in the Canadian capital this winter then you must go skating on the world-famous Rideau Canal! Each winter the historic canal, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is transformed into a 7.8 kilometre skateway that winds through Ottawa's downtown all the way to Dows Lake. There are food vendors at various locations along the route so you can pause for a BeaverTail or hot chocolate along the way while enjoying Ottawa's quintessential winter pastime.
Gift Ideas for National Park Enthusiasts
If you are looking for gift ideas and would rather give experiences instead of things then consider a Parks Canada Discovery Pass. The Discovery Pass is good for 12 months and provides unlimited opportunities to visit nearly 100 National Parks, National Marine Conservation Areas, and National Historic Sites across Canada that charge entry fees. There are both individual and Family/Group passes available. Parks Canada also sells merchandise for kids that would make great stocking stuffers or would be perfect to wrap up with a Discovery Pass.