There is no place like home for the holidays… unless home is overrun by those energetic kiddos who are off from school until the new year. As parents, guardians and caregivers, we all love the time we get to spend with our little angels, of course. But it’s also okay to admit that being cooped up indoors for two long weeks can be a bit of a challenge. This holiday break, get your kids out of the house for some wholesome family fun, and take the pressure off yourself to keep them engaged and entertained. The best part is that you’ll have just as much fun as they will with these fantastic holiday activities in York Durham Headwaters!
To get you started, here is a sample list of the many events we have happening this holiday season throughout YDH. But don’t stop here. Check out our events page to find more great activities in our region: https://yorkdurhamheadwaters.ca/events/
Grinchy holiday portraits
From Saturday November 28th to Sunday December 13th, The Grinch of Whoville will be making his annual stop at the Alton Mill Arts Centre in Caledon for a Christmas photo op. Photos by Femke Photography make a great Christmas card, and while we all love to see our kids sitting on the knee of Jolly Old Saint Nick, your holiday photos will be unique with The Grinch’s green face gracing your mantelpiece. Your children don’t have to be naughty to take advantage of this beloved activity, though—we have it on good authority that The Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes since he tried to steal Christmas that one time.
Alton Mill Arts Centre
1402 Queen St. W., Caledon
Holiday portraits with the alpacas
Is the mean old Grinch not unique enough for your kids’ holiday portraits? Here is another great idea: what about a pack of alpacas at Jolly Zee Alpacas in Caledon? This is a photo session package that is available year-round, but it’s a great option during the holiday break. These adorable creatures with their impossibly large eyelashes and protruding teeth are known for their gentle nature. Your kids will love their soft fur and their happy hums and clicks—the joy will be evident on their faces in the photos that are taken for your friends and family. Paca Mama and co-owner Julie is a professional photographer whose obsession with these lovable creatures wore off on husband Steve. Today, they offer alpaca adventures of all kinds on their farm, and are proud of “their girls,” as they lovingly call their herd.
Jolly Zee Alpacas
18692 Hurontario St., Caledon Village
Traditional (and kid-friendly) Scandinavian outdoor Christmas market
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from November 12th to December 22nd, visit the Niemi Family Farm in Mount Albert for a Christmas Market experience that will warm your heart and enthrall your children. This Scandinavian market pays tribute to the Finnish heritage of the Niemi Family, and includes local treasures like handmade soaps, traditional Finnish baking and fresh fudge, private bonfires, farm animals and other children’s activities, and lots of vendors with one-of-a-kind gifts and goods. Take this unique opportunity to teach your kids all about shopping and supporting local this holiday break while they enjoy the new Christmas Land feature, and maybe even help you pick out your family’s Christmas tree.
Niemi Family Farm
18463 Hwy 48, Mount Albert
Holiday Night of Lights
After a sold-out drive-through experience in 2020, the Holiday Night of Lights is coming back to Vaughan for 2021. But this time, it’s a walk-through experience! This one is perfect for the kids, who will be thrilled by this extraordinary nighttime walk of the newly built gardens of Assembly Park. This experience features more than 1 million LED lights that are animated and synchronized to all of your favourite holiday tunes. Dazzle your kids with the spirit of the holidays on this 45-minute adventure, and send them off to dreamland where visions of LED sugar plums will dance in their heads. This event includes features like an artisan marketplace, photos at the North Pole, live entertainment, food truck fun, and a 50-foot-tall lighted tree (to name just a few). Capacity is limited, so book your tickets online to reserve your spot.
Holiday Night of Lights
80 Interchange Way, Vaughan
Journey into Enchantment Christmas drive-thru festival
By day, it’s the Mount Joy GO station. By night, it is an enchanted holiday festival for all ages. Journey Into Enchantment Christmas drive-thru festival comes to Markham and brings with it lots of family fun. Experience the magic of 1.5 million unique light decorations, 3D interactive displays, a sparkling light drive-through tunnel, and musical lights—all from the safety of your own car on this 2 km route. Attending this event will not only entertain and thrill your kids, it will also teach them about the spirit of Christmas, because proceeds will go to support Toronto SickKids, Toronto Animal Services, and Ontario Parents Advocating for Children with Cancer (OPACC). This event is held between November 25th and January 8th, so book your tickets now to reserve your spot.
Journey Into Enchantment
1801 Bur Oak Ave., Markham (Mount Joy GO)
Magical Christmas Forest
The Kortright Centre for Conservation in Vaughan invites you and your wee ones to escape into the Magical Christmas Forest. This outdoor experience features a winter wonderland of lights, activities and treats for all ages. Your kids will love their holiday break in nature with lots of fresh air and fun—make sure you dress for the weather. Also, bring your camera for photo opportunities, especially with the big man in red himself. That’s right, kids: Santa will be visiting Kortright from the North Pole just for you!
Kortright Centre for Conservation
9550 Pine Valley Dr., Vaughan
Have a Holly Jolly drive-thru
This holiday season, the Pickering Museum Village will be transformed for a drive-thru journey into Christmases of the past. This 45-minute tour takes place from the safety of your vehicle. Play the PMV heritage Christmas trivia game with your family and friends, and learn all about popular winter traditions and where they originated—including how Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer came to be. Your kids will love singing carols as a family, and they’ll be thrilled with their safe-distanced visit with Santa Claus at the end. There is nothing like the Christmas Days of Yore!
Pickering Museum Village
2365 Concession Rd. 6, Greenwood
Uxbridge Fantasy of Lights
Welcome to the 14th annual Uxbridge Optimist Fantasy of Lights. This popular Durham Region tradition comes back to Uxbridge in drive-through form for 2021, and features one of the largest free holiday display events in Ontario! With over 75 exhibits of light displays from community groups, businesses, schools, churches and families, your kids will love driving through this dazzling path and taking in the wonder of the season. This event runs from December 4th to January 8th between 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., and is free for all.
Uxbridge Optimist Fantasy of Lights
Elgin Park Drive, Uxbridge
Bonus: Santa Claus Parades
What are the holidays without those beloved local Santa Claus parades? Keep your kids entertained while they’re off school with these and many more events. This is what happens when a community comes together to celebrate the season. Here are just a few to get you started on planning which parades you’d like to visit this winter:
- Port Perry – https://m.facebook.com/events/407875827563247
- Beaverton – https://www.facebook.com/TheBeavertonLions/
- Schomberg – http://www.amainstreetchristmas.com/parades.html
- Sunderland – https://www.facebook.com/SantaInSunderland/
- Newmarket – https://www.newmarket.ca/santa
Story by Katherine Ryalen