Whether you’re looking for an event to entertain your kids this Family Day, a romantic winter getaway for Valentine’s Day weekend, or a fun-filled final destination for a winter road trip, this list has a little something for every type of winter explorer.
The holidays are over and the dreaded January blues and February blahs may have set in, but there’s still time to enjoy winter before you start looking forward to spring break or summer vacation! We want to share some of our favourite festivals and events in Ontario that will actually make you happy that February has 29 days this year!
(Ottawa, January 31st – February 17th)
Ottawa’s Winterlude Festival is the biggest name on this list. Winterlude is probably what you picture when you think of a classic Canadian winter festival, and for good reason! Jacques Cartier Park has been transformed into a winter playground with snow sculptures, performances, and tons of amazing activities for people of all ages including:
- a zip line
- snow tube slides
- skiing, snowboarding and skating
Don’t miss your chance to skate on the Rideau Canal, and see the results of three ice carving competitions and interactive light structures.
Cochrane Winter Carnival
(Cochrane, February 7th – 17th)
If you find yourself further north this February and don’t mind braving a little extra Ontario cold, the Cochrane Winter Carnival might be a great destination for you and the little ones. If your kids are obsessed with Disney princesses, then they won’t want to miss the Frozen Fairy Tale Ball or Story Time with the Princess.
There’s more rough-and-tumble activities too like:
- a snow box derby
- snowmobile drag races
- a demolition derby
Like all of these Ontario festivals, the Cochrane Winter Carnival has way more to offer than can be listed here. You’ll want to study the event schedule and make time to checkout everything from karaoke and fireworks to the Wing-a-thon, pancake-eating contest, and polar bear dip.
Voyageur Winter Carnival
(Thunder Bay, February 15th – 17th)
Rounding out the westernmost point on our winter festivals map, the Voyager winter Carnival is the destination for hardcore Canadian winter connoisseurs. This mostly outdoor, all-weather carnival will give you a taste of both traditional and modern winter activities. If you’re fascinated by historical weapons, then fire a Canadian Corps of Voyageurs musket, or give axe throwing a try.
Thrill seekers can also try out these exciting rides, back by popular demand:
- dragon boat racing
- snow tubing
- Zorb Ball track
- human bowling
When you need a break from the cold, there are indoor crafts and a science station for the kids, but bring your sled or skates to prepare for some serious winter excitement.
(Kingston, February 1st – 29th)
Downtown Kingston’s Feb Fest is perfect for families and anyone who enjoys Canadian winter sports or just playing outside on a brisk winter day. You can get some mood-boosting winter exercise with outdoor skating events hosted all month long. There’s theme skates every Tuesday and live DJ skates every Friday and Saturday. If you’d rather watch the professionals skate, the second week of Feb Fest is dedicated to all things hockey.
On Family Day weekend you can try your hand at curling and check out the downtown Kingston art scene. Every Saturday you can grab horse-drawn wagon rides, and of course there’s plenty of great food on the menu, from classic Canadian BeaverTails to a daily assortment of food and beverage pairings from local eateries on the Toast to Tapas menu.
Toronto Light Festival
(Distillery Historic District, January 17th – March 1st)
If you’re planning to be in the province’s capital this winter, then you’ll definitely want to check out this light and art festival in Toronto’s historic distillery district. The mission of Toronto Light Fest is to brighten and warm even the coldest, darkest winter nights with glowing light installations that make you smile, think, and probably also snap more than a few pics for your Instagram.
Featuring the work of artists from Canada and around the world, live street performances, and the opportunity to grab some quality food and drink along the way, this event will inspire even the harshest winter critics to get outside and enjoy the festivities. You can experience these stunning electric art installations for free or book a walking and tasting tour. If an evening light tour isn’t your thing, you can even savour the mouth-watering winter brunch offerings the Distillery District restaurants are serving up.
We’re sure that heading out to one of these festivals in ontario will give you some magical winter memories to think about while you enjoy one last bout of cozy winter hibernation before we get to welcome the spring thaw. Whether you pick one of the Ontario events listed above, go with something local, or head out on your own winter fun finding expedition with your loved ones, we hope you have a healthy and safe season filled with your favourite Canadian winter pastimes!