Happy holidays

Dust off your jingle bells, dig out your Santa hat and strap on your reindeer antlers! Welcome to one of my favourite holiday traditions, the original and most comprehensive listing of all the Christmas, Holiday and Santa Claus parades for Ottawa, Eastern Ontario and West Quebec.

Photo of Santa Claus at the Christmas parade 2013

Sometimes the parade season sneaks up on me, but with the few light flurries we’ve already had, I feel like I’m ready for the holiday fun to begin. Did you know that this post annual post is officially a teenager now? I almost didn’t compile the list this year, but after thirteen (!) years, I didn’t feel like I could stop now! Take a close look at the details – I noticed a lot of parades moving from a traditional week or day of the week, and lots of route changes for this year, too. There are more than 20 parades crammed into one three-week period!

Here’s all the info I could scare up about the 2018 Ottawa, Eastern Ontario and West Quebec Santa Claus and Christmas parade line-up, in chronological order:

Kanata Santa Claus Parade
Saturday November 17, 2018 at 10:00 am (note the change to day of the week and time versus previous years!) The parade begins at Terry Fox and Castlefrank and proceeds Castlefrank to Abbeyhill Drive and on to Hazeldean Mall. Food and money will be collected by volunteer firefighters along the route for the Kanata Food Cupboard. Join Santa at the mall after the parade!

Ottawa Help Santa Toy Parade
Saturday, November 17 starting at 11:00 am. The parade starts at Ottawa City Hall and moves west on Laurier Avenue to Bank Street, then follows Bank Street south to TD Place. New toys (no used toys, please) and cash donations will be collected by the Ottawa Firefighters.

Cornwall Santa Claus Parade
Saturday November 17, starting at 5:00 pm. The parade will run from St. Lawrence Intermediate School, 1450 Second Street East. It will then proceed west. The theme for the parade is “Christmas Movies.” Join us afterwards for Santa’s Street Hockey Challenge!

Petawawa Santa Claus Parade
Sunday November 18, 2018 at 1:00 pm. Parade departs from the Wolfe Plaza. The parade will then travel along Mohns Avenue, Doran Road, Herman Street to Murphy Road and terminate in the Civic Centre parking.

Barrhaven Lions Club Light Up the Night Santa Claus Parade
Sunday, November 18, starting at 5:30 pm. (Note the change back to Sunday this year!) The parade runs down Strandherd Drive, starting at Beatrice Drive and ending at the park n ride, where it turns north for dispersal. Please remember to bring non perishable food items or cash donations for the Barrhaven Food Cupboard.

Kemptville Kinsmen Santa Parade
Saturday, November 24 starting at 5:00 pm – note late afternoon start time. Parade Leaves Kemptville College Parking Lot (Stinson Rd lot), from College Rd turns right on Concession road, turns left onto Clothier Street then left onto Prescott Street. Parade ends at Holy Cross School. The theme is “North Pole Fantasy.”

Brockville Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, November 24, starting at 5:00 pm. The parade is in the evening again this year with a theme of “Light Up Christmas. The parade will be marshalled along North Augusta Road from Pearl Street to Reynolds Road using the street and various parking lots.

Carleton Place Santa Parade
Saturday, November 24 starting at 5:00 pm. Wear red and white, bring your food donation with you. This year’s parade theme is ‘A Christmas Carol’.

Pembroke Santa Claus Parade of Lights
Saturday, November 24 starting at 5:30 pm. This winter, we will be celebrating the most exciting moments and traditions of Christmas Morning. The Santa Claus Parade of Lights will transform Downtown Pembroke into a joyous commemoration of the Christmas season. The parade will begin at Moncion Metro and end at Festival Hall.

Arnprior Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, November 24, starting at 6:00 pm. The Arnprior Santa Claus Parade will leave Winners circle at 6 pm. It will head down Daniel St turning left on Eady St and then right onto John St South. It will continue down John St South and turn right onto Madawaska Blvd. and then right again back onto Daniel St.

Orleans Parade of Lights
Saturday, November 24, starting at 6:00 pm. Once again the Ottawa Professional Firefighters Association will be hosting Santa’s Parade of Lights on St-Joseph Blvd. in Orleans. Toy and cash donations will be collected by firefighters along the route.

Gananoque Santa Parade
Saturday, November 24, starting at 7:00 pm. (Note later start time.) The Gananoque BIA is proud to host the annual Santa Claus Parade. The parade will begin at Gananoque & Intermediate Secondary School and head downtown along King Street making it’s final turn on Park Street.

Clarence Rockland Santa Claus Parade
Sunday, November 25, starting at 4:30 pm. The route will be the same as last year, starting on Héritage Rd. and ending at the Knights of Columbus hall.

Constance & Buckham’s Bay Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, December 1, starting at 10:00 am (note earlier start time.) Don’t miss the annual CBBCA Constance & Buckhams Bay Santa Claus Parade; floats gather on Baillie Ave. Parade runs along Bayview to Len Purcell and winds up at the community centre for hots dogs, Santa, and hot chocolate. Be sure to check out the Christmas Market & Craft Fair. Bring your non-perishable food item for the West Carleton Food Bank.

Merrickville Christmas Parade
Saturday, December 1, starting at 11:00 am. The annual Merrickville Santa Claus Parade, hosted by the Merrickville Volunteer Fire Department Association, will make its way up St. Lawrence Street starting at 11:00am.

Manotick Christmas Parade
Saturday, December 1, starting at 1:00 pm. Parade runs from the Manotick Arena and then south down Manotick Main Street. This is our favourite of the season! 😉

Perth and District Santa Claus Parade of Lights
Saturday, December 1, starting at 5:00 pm. The annual SANTA CLAUS PARADE OF LIGHTS makes its way through Downtown Heritage Perth. Starting on Sunset Blvd. at 5pm, the parade of lights will travel south through town (Wilson to Gore), turning onto Cockburn Street and ending at Queen Elizabeth School. The parade always ends with a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Claus on the last float!

Renfrew Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, December 1, starting at 5:30 pm. Parade will start at Bonnechere St South and Munroe Ave West. It will end at Opeongo Road and Raglan Street South.

Stittsville Parade of Lights
Saturday, December 1 starting at 6:00 pm. The parade will proceed along its usual route south on Stittsville Main Street, from just south of Hazeldean Road to Carleton Cathcart Street. Each year, dozens of beautifully decorated community floats set the tone for Santa’s much anticipated arrival at the end of the parade. Merry makers are also encouraged to stay for the lighting of Village Square Park, our new Christmas Market in Village Square Park (5 pm to 9 pm), and to share in some hot chocolate, cookies, and a visit with Santa.

Aylmer / Gatineau Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, December 1, starting at 6:00 pm. A tradition that goes back several years, this light-filled parade that departs from the Aylmer marina and attracts crowds from the entire region.

Hawkesbury Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, December 1, starting at 7 pm. Visit with Santa and some Hawkesbury’s associations while enjoying the parade that will start on James Street, will continue along Main Street and will finish at Hamilton Street.

Casselman Santa Claus Parade
Sunday, December 2 starting at 5:30pm. Route: Starting at the Laflêche boulevard, Isabelle street, St-Isidore street West, Percy street, Dollard street to finish on Principale Street South.We encourage all participants to make a donation of can foods or others to be used for Christmas baskets. (A truck will be at the start of the parade to collect donations.)

Osgoode Christmas in the Village
Friday December 7, starting at 7 pm. Parade route is from Osgoode Main St and Nixon Rd along Osgoode Main St to Stuart Holmes Arena. On Saturday, December 8, celebrate the festive spirit and join the Osgoode Co-operative Nursery School for their 26th annual Breakfast with Santa at the Osgoode Community Centre. Enjoy a delicious pancake breakfast and while you are there, do some Christmas shopping at their popular Silent Auction featuring a display of various local products.

Carp Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, December 8, starting at 12:00 pm. The route starts at The Diefenbunker – 3911 Carp Road and follows Carp Road, turning left onto Donald B. Munro, left onto Langstaff Drive, left on Juanita Avenue and right on Carp Road, finishing at the Diefenbunker. (Note route change: This is the opposite of last year’s route. The parade will be going all the way down Carp Road first.)

Pakenham Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, December 8, starting at 1:00 pm. Don’t miss Santa’s favourite event with the Pakenham Santa Claus Parade! Pack a thermos of hot chocolate and head to downtown Pakenham for an old-fashioned, festive parade.

Missing this year: At the time of publication in early November, I wasn’t able to find information about Richmond, Smiths Falls, Embrun, Almonte, Eganville or Metcalfe this year. If you have any information about these communities or others not mentioned above, please let me know and I’ll update the post throughout the season.

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And don’t fret if you can’t make it to the parade – how about one of these other fun family events with a holiday theme in our region?

Barrhaven Breakfast with Santa

The morning of the Barrhaven Santa Claus parade, Sunday November 18, bring the kids for a breakfast with Santa at Mother Theresa High School. Seatings at 8:00 and 9:30.

Magic of Lights Drive-Through at Wesley Clover Park
November 16, 2018 through January 5, 2019. This magical event, that has quickly become a holiday tradition for many Ottawa residents and visitors, is composed of lighted displays celebrating the joy of the holidays. A “drive through” experience from the comfort of your own car, at every turn and in every direction the route is overflowing with spectacular light displays and animations. New attractions in 2018 will include “Candy Cane Lane”, a 200-foot animated Candy Cane celebration, as well as an all new twinkling “Snowflake Forest.”

The Vintage Village of Lights
Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from November 30 to December 2, 2018, 3 pm to 8 pm at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum. There’s holiday cheer to share with family, friends, and loved ones of all ages at the Vintage Village of Lights! Our 1920s and 30s village is illuminated to set a picture-perfect scene as you explore the festive touches, decorations, and embellishments that have been a part of Christmas traditions through the years. As you enjoy your stroll around the Village, be sure to check out some of the fun activities we have planned including: decorating gingerbread; taking a horse-drawn wagon ride; receiving a Santagram; printing a greeting card; personalizing a wooden tree ornament; a site-wide advent calendar; and more. And, of course, don’t forget to say hi to Santa!

2018 Canadian Pacific Holiday Train
The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train hits the rails again in November, visiting over 150 communities. Since the program’s inception back in 1999, more than $7.4 million and over 3 million pounds of food has been collected in Canada and the United States. At each event, the Holiday Train provides a box car stage, a line up of great musical talents and a corporate contribution to the local food bank. The community, in turn, is encouraged to donate food and funds, all of which stays in the community. Local stops include Finch, Merrickville, Smiths Falls and Perth on November 28 and then Trenton, Belleville and Brighton on November 29. Check the holiday train schedule for more details.

Canadian Museum of History Tree Lighting Ceremony: Thursday, November 29
Thursday, November 29 at 6 p.m. Invite your family, friends and colleagues to count down to the lighting of the tree. Enjoy Christmas carols by la Chorale 7e-8e, from secondary school De La Salle’s Centre d’excellence artistique de l’Ontario, along with complimentary Beaver Bites and hot chocolate (while quantities last). You can also take the opportunity to visit the Museum’s Christmas Market, which opens the same day in the Grand Hall and will be open until 8 p.m. Note that the activities will take place outside, so please dress accordingly.

Upper Canada Village: Alight at Night
Bundle up for an evening stroll through this picture-perfect postcard setting! With close to one million lights adorning the heritage buildings, trees and fences of Upper Canada Village creating a one-of-a-kind magical backdrop for its annual Alight at Night Festival…a true winter wonderland! Times and dates vary, starting November 30 through January 5, so check the link for details. New this year: don’t miss the 1965 carousel of prancing horses that young visitors can ride!

Manotick’s Olde Fashioned Christmas
Saturday December 1 and Sunday December 2. The Village is transformed into a Village of Yesteryear. There will be a Victorian Tea and Penny Sale, horse-drawn wagon rides, pictures with Santa, face painting, strolling carollers and more.

Christmas Tree Lighting at the National Gallery of Canada
Tuesday December 4, 2018. Free admission from 5 pm to 8 pm, tree lighting at 6:30 pm in the Scotiabank Great Hall. All are welcome to enjoy special treats and activities, such as making a spinning snowflake ornament to decorate your tree, in-gallery sketching, watch Christmas movies in the auditorium, listen to the melodies of Stellae Boreales (and sing along to your holiday favourites) and enjoy a ride aboard VIA Rail’s Christmas Mini Train on the outdoor Plaza. See link above for more details and activities.

Christmas Lights Across Canada: December 5, 2018 to January 7, 2019
The 34th edition of Christmas Lights Across Canada will kick off with an official illumination ceremony on Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 7 pm. Every night from December 5 to January 7, enjoy the Magical Winter Lightscapes multimedia show projected on the Parliament Hill buildings. People of all ages will get into the holiday spirit as hundreds of thousands of dazzling lights shine in Canada’s Capital Region and across the country.

If I’ve missed anything, or if you’d like to share information about your family-friendly Ottawa Christmas or Holiday event, please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at hello(a)danigirl(dot)ca and I’d be happy to add them to this (now epic!) post.

How many parades will YOU attend this year?


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You know what I love? Christmas. You know what one of my favourite things about Christmas is? Revisiting the same traditions year after year as the boys get older and watching them reinterpret the traditions for whatever age they are at.

It’s been nearly a decade since we discovered the Portable North Pole (PNP), and it has become one of the Christmas traditions my kids love best. Even now that they’re teenagers (sidebar: what? when did that happen?) they still watch their annual video message from Santa, and Lucas has already started speculating about when his video might arrive. Truth be told, I credit the Portable North Pole for keeping the magic alive – I’m sure my kids accepted Santa as real for years in no small part thanks to the arrival of their personalized video messages each year. I have loved watching their faces as they watch the videos!

Talking to Santa

So what is the Portable North Pole? At its core, it’s a wonderful little site where you can upload a few photos and select a few options and make a customized video letter from Santa for your child. There’s just enough details in the video that it truly seems that Santa has been keeping track of who has been naughty and who has been nice, and it’s all rolled together in a cute little storyline. The options change from year to year, so even after nearly a decade, the kids have never received the same video twice. And, since the kids always watch each others’ videos, I’m delighted that there are always at least three unique videos to choose from each year, so they are truly personalized for each kid.

They have added lots of other fun activities through the years on the PNP site. Now in addition to the personalized video letters from Santa, you can get bedtime stories from Santa and birthday wishes from Santa. There’s an app, and fun and games on the Santa’s Village microsite, and your kiddies can even get a telephone call from Santa. And, in a touch that I think is lovely, 5% of all funds collected through the sale of magic passes is donated to childrens’ hospitals around the world.

IMHO, though, the real magic of the Portable North Pole is the video messages. For Black Friday (now through November 27) use THIS LINK and coupon code PNP7BFD to save 30% off a Magic Pass. If you’re seeing this after November 27, feel free to use discount code PNP7BLG20 to save 20% when you purchase a video pass or a magic pass. (Here’s an article that explains the difference between the video pass and the magic pass.) There are also a small selection of free videos available. There’s a little something for everyone!

If you do use the coupon codes, be sure to come back and let me know if your kids loved it as much as my boys do!

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(Disclosure: I received a complimentary video pass in exchange for writing this post, but I’ve written before about PNP and genuinely recommend the sweet, fun videos to add a little extra sparkle to your Christmas magic!)


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The year we moved to Manotick was the year we swapped our almost 20 year old artificial tree for a (formerly) live one. Though I had never had a “real” tree, we have come to love our annual Christmas tree quest and I could not imagine ever going back to an artificial tree.

Conveniently, 2010 is also the year I launched my photography business. Fun to see both how much the boys have grown and how much I have grown as a photographer over the years!

2010: they were babies!!

The Great Christmas Tree Adventure 2010

2011: clearly I hadn’t unlocked the mysteries of white balance because everything is blue.

Searching for a tree

2012: the year we discovered Thomas Tree Farm, where we’ve gone every year since. Also, the year Tristan was big enough to take over one end of the tree.

Christmas tree quest 2012-6

2013: Lucas is wearing the coat today that Simon was wearing that day.

Christmas Tree Quest 2013

2014: I never noticed before that it’s always Simon’s task to carry the saw.

Christmas tree quest 2014-5

2015: that weird year we wore spring coats until Boxing Day. Also, add reindeer to all the things!

Christmas tree and reindeer

2016: where did all these man-sized children come from?

Christmas tree picking 2016-6

Do you have a favourite holiday tradition that you do every year? Our holidays are steeped in tradition, but hunting for the Christmas tree is probably our family favourite!


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Things you see in this photo:

* three boys decorating a Christmas tree
* two boys who are nearly as tall as the tree itself
* my boys are still wearing pajamas even though this is late afternoon (lazy Sunday FTW!)
* a nearly triangular tree that is far wider than we expected
* that our tree is full of mismatched and home-made ornaments and though will never make it to the cover of a decorating magazine, each of those ornaments makes me smile

Decorating the tree

What you don’t see: now that it’s a few days later, the entire bottom section has been stripped of its ornaments by Lucy the kitten. We keep finding smaller, lighter ornaments stashed throughout the house where she has dropped them.

We seem to be in an ongoing cycle where the fragile ornaments are on the tree (the childless years) then off the tree (the toddler years) then on the tree (the Katie years) then off the tree (hello clumsy, exuberant Bella!) then on the tree, and once again back off the tree (Lucy has not yet actually scaled the tree, but we’ve caught her thinking about it.)

I’d say “this is why we can’t have nice things” — but maybe the nicest things are the ones that endure the likes of toddlers and boisterous puppies and curious kitties?


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Edited to add: Click this link for the 2018 Santa Claus and holiday parade info!

Welcome to one of my favourite holiday traditions! Welcome to the original and most comprehensive listing of all the Christmas, Holiday and Santa Claus parades for Ottawa and Eastern Ontario and West Quebec.

Can you believe we’ve been doing this post for eleven years? I’m a bit later posting this year’s list, and I can hardly believe that parade season is starting tomorrow! Here’s all the info I could scare up about the 2016 Santa Claus and Christmas parade line-up, in chronological order:

Photo of Santa Claus at the Christmas parade 2013

[click to continue…]


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For weeks, I’d kept an eye on the forecast, hoping for just a wee crust of snow to be on the ground for this weekend. Alas, with sunshine and temperatures well above zero, there was not a flake in sight (heh, except maybe the one behind the camera) as we launched our family Christmas season in the traditional way.

First, the annual Santa Claus parade in Manotick. You can never have too much sunshine for a parade!

Christmas traditions

Can I just take a moment to say that there is a special place in my heart for people walking in parades who make the effort to ensure that even the tallest, gangliest and peach-fuzzed kids get a piece or two of Christmas candy along the parade route? I was touched by the number of people who offered candy canes and other treats to all three boys, even though one is now as tall as me. He may be big, but he still loves Christmas AND candy. 🙂

And then, lack of snow be damned, we took a lovely autumnal walk through our favourite Christmas tree farm. This year, the saw was handed down to the middlest boy for the first time. It’s the first year we’ve had to worry about mud instead of snow on the ground, but the tree is as lovely as ever.

Christmas traditions-2

Jackets unzipped, or carried casually in hands, and nobody thought to bring gloves to protect our hands from sticky sap and picky needles instead of frostnip, but we managed to get by without the snow.

Christmas tree and reindeer

And though I didn’t catch it here, Lucas even took a turn carrying the tree this year. My boys, they’re growing up fast!

Did you catch the reindeer in the background? Shockingly, nobody seemed to notice him lounging in the forest when we were getting our tree. He only became obvious when I was processing the photos. Oh the magic of Christmas!! (I’m sort of like a toddler who learns a new trick and then must repeat it ad nauseum. I promise, I’ll get it out of my system in time for spring 2016’s porch portrait season! Probably.)

Turns out we didn’t really need that snow after all. I’m happy enough if it holds off until December 20 or so, now. You can take plenty of lovely Christmas photos even without a snowy backdrop, and a magical reindeer or two. 🙂


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Christmas traditions FTW: The reindeer rant

6 December 2015 Happy holidays

I have lost track of the number of times I’ve recycled this post, but it somehow just doesn’t feel like Christmas until I’ve shared it again. Besides, with a new job and a new circle of friends, there’s a whole new audience to edumacate about this most important Christmas factoid. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to […]

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Photos of the day: Reindeers and Christmas Jedi

1 December 2015 Happy holidays

How do you torture a photographer? Send her two exquisitely cute families for Christmas portraits on the porch, and then make her choose just ONE for the photo of the day. I seriously couldn’t do it! First, these two dropped by. Little Miss was a little bit shy, and a lot three years old. Sometimes, […]

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Happy Christmas!

26 December 2014 Happy holidays

Oops, I’m a day late. We were too busy having a low-key, wonderful family Christmas for me to be playing on the computer. But, I hope it’s not too late to wish you and your families a wonderful Christmas season, and a new year filled with magic and joy. Merry Christmas, with love from DaniGirl, […]

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Flashback Faves: An interview with NORAD’s Santa Tracker Team

21 December 2014 Happy holidays

Aside from the Reindeer Rant, this post from last year is probably my holiday favourite, and definitely worth sharing again! If you’ve been around for a while, you might remember I spent some time working with the Canadian Army. When I was there, I was lucky enough to work with Captain Jennifer Stadnyk, and long […]

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