'Tis the season for holiday fun
Prime Minister Stephan Harper took part in the Christmas Lights Across Canada Illumination Ceremony on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, in 2010. Chris Roussakis/QMI Agency
Whether you're staying close to home or venturing far from it, there is no reason for your kids to get bored over the holiday season.
Here are some seasonal events happing over the holidays in and around Toronto and beyond:
In the city
Festive Christmas Weekends: Toronto's Scarborough Museum is hosting festive and family friendly tours of its decorated McCowan Log House and Cornell House. Guests experience both an early settler Christmas and an elaborate Victorian Christmas while sipping warm apple cider. On now until Dec. 24; admission is by donation. See toronto.ca/scarboroughmuseum.
DJ Skate Night: Through Feb. 19, Harbourfront Centre is featuring free Saturday night skating hosted by some of the city's most popular DJs. Skating is from 8-11 p.m. most Saturdays except Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. January events include a special LunarFest skate party celebrating Asian culture, as well as skates celebrating Kuumba Black History Month. See harbourfrontcentre.com.
Elves in the Workshop: From now through Dec. 18, Casa Loma is home to weekend family fun workshops in which little elves craft their own gingerbread houses to take home and hang on the Christmas trees. See casaloma.org.
Lowe's Toronto Christmas Market: The city's traditional European Christmas market has kid-friendly attractions such as story-telling, a Ferris wheel, a 13-metre decorated Christmas tree, carollers and a fire pit. See TorontoChristmasMarket.com.
Room at the Inn: Until Dec. 30, the Fairmont Royal York hotel is once again offering a number of free rooms to out-of-town families visiting hospitalized relatives in Toronto. See fairmont.com.
Simcoe River of Lights: Every year, thousands of lights, events and themed displays transform the Southwestern community of Simcoe's downtown into a winter wonderland. Part of the annual "River of Lights" festival, the exhibits run along Simcoe's Lynn River. A horse-drawn carriage offers sightseeing most weekends in December. The fun continues through Jan. 1. See simcoepanorama.ca.
Burlington Lakeside Festival of Lights: Burlington is gaining recognition for being a pretty place to view hundreds of light displays through the Christmas season. There is not fee to view the lights but donations are appreciated. See burlingtonfestivaloflights.com/about.html.
Santa Claus Express: Tottenham's steam train, the South Simcoe Express, runs a special Christmas-themed train throughout December on which kids can interact with Santa and his elves. Reservations are recommended. See southsimcoerailway.com.
New Year's at Blue Mountain: Horse-drawn wagon rides for children are free all afternoon on Dec. 31 as part of Blue Mountain's New Year's Eve festivities, followed by fireworks at 9 p.m. over Mill Pond. See BlueMountain.ca.
Christmas Lights Across Canada: First conceived in 1985 to brighten up Ottawa's Parliament Hill, Christmas Lights Across Canada has expanded to include light displays in 13 provincial and territorial capitals, and now features lights at 60 sites along Ottawa's Confederation Blvd. See canadascapital.gc.ca/celebrate/christmas-lights. Rideau Canal Skateway: Depending on the temperature, Ottawa's Rideau Canal Skateway debuts this season on Dec. 30 and should run through until mid February. The 7.8- km skateway features hot drinks and tasty snacks along the way, as well as an outdoor art gallery on Dow's Lake. See canadascapital.gc.ca/places-to-visit/rideau-canal-skateway.
Out of province
Christmas in Tremblant: Quebec's pretty, pedestrian-only Tremblant village is transformed over the holidays with lights, music and constant festivity. Santa will be hanging out in the village; fireworks and an outdoor party will light up Tremblant's Place Saint-Bernard on New Year's eve. See tremblant.ca.
Zoolights: Calgary's annual Zoolights festival is Western Canada's largest seasonal light display. It runs at the Calgary Zoo through Dec. 24 and features 200 displays and 1.5 million lights, plus firepits, moonlit monkeys and a Tunnel of Love. See CalgaryZoo.com.
Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge: The new Cliffwalk at Vancouver's Capilano Suspension Bridge will be lit up by a "dancing light display" along a cliff face. The suspension bridge will also be lit up throughout the Christmas season with thousands of lights, and kids can participate in gingerbread baking, singalongs and Christmas ornament making. See CapBridge.com.
Holiday Events in Whistler: A Fire and Ice show and a Dress Like Santa Day are both part of the fun in B.C.'s Whistler Village over the holidays. Plus, its fun outdoor New Year's Eve party is alcohol-free and family focused. See Whistler.com.