If you don't know, you'll soon find out how and why Kingston may just be one of the most magical towns to spend the holidays. Forget the fact that this historical town is located on the scenic shores of Lake Ontario for all your holiday #views, the not-so-small, small town vibe really shines through to make the holiday season that much more enchanting. We're talking world-class performances of your favourite Christmas Classics enjoyed in the comfort of a town with strong community ties.
If you're still not picking up what we're putting down let us explain - we live for the Holidays. People are wearing ugly holiday sweaters, nostalgic movies are playing on repeat, hot chocolate and eggnog are the only socially acceptable drink, and the world seems a little merrier. Sound extreme? Don't be a cotton headed ninny muggets, we're pulling a Buddy the Elf and spreading some Holiday cheer by giving you the best of the best activities that the hidden gem of Ontario (the 613 of course) has to offer.
1. Take a magical trip to Narnia with Lumina Borealis
If you ever needed a real life picture of what a true Winter Wonderland looks like, head over to Fort Henry for the absolutely MAGICAL Lumina Borealis. What is it? Imagine this, you're walking through the historic stone walls of Fort Henry to the background music of what we can only describe as woodland mystical (the upcoming musical genre duh). As you walk through there are moving animals floating on the walls, interactive light displays, and what we can only assume is a different part of Narnia to walk through around every corner. It'll remind you why you actually once did like winter, and bring some beauty to the start of your holidays. To sum it up? It's f*cking magical, and if you want a chance to be absolutely blown away? Head here before the secret gets out!
Insider tip: bring your Lumina Borealis ticket to any of the Black Dog Hospitality Group's restaurant's (Chien Noir, Atomica Pizza & Wine Bar, Harper's Burger Bar, and Dianne's Fish Shack and Smokehouse) and get a free glass of wine, craft beer or dessert with your entree! Only valid on the night of your ticket date. Ie. date night anyone?
When to go: 5pm to 11pm on select nights from December 1st to February 4th!
2. Have a Skating Date at Market Square
I'm sorry but let's be real - there is nothing more romantic than a winter skating date. Especially when that skating rink happens to be in the middle of a city square that is made for falling in love. Smack in the middle of downtown Kingston always gives people a chance to enjoy the highlights of winter with this age-old activity. With a beautiful Christmas tree lighting the way, head down here with your number one, whether that's a first date, BFF date, awkward tinder match, one thing is for sure. You will be feeling the holiday spirit all night long. Novice? Don't worry, you can rent skates down there!
Insider tip: Why not turn it into a night? The square is near some of the finest cuisine in Kingston. Do an afternoon date with hot chocolate from Coffeeco across the square. Or make it a romantic night date and head to Olivea (also across from the market square) for some of the best Italian cuisine you have ever had post falling on your face (adorable-esque though obviously)
3. See the magic of It's A Wonderful Life LIVE at the Domino Theatre
The classic Frank Capra film is coming to life in Kingston this year at the Domino Theatre. Hallmarked as one of the Christmas Classics, the story will make you laugh, shed a tear, and feel all the merriment that comes with a Christmas classic. Is there any better way to get in the spirit than to step up the movie game and see this viewing of A Wonderful life live?! It's a great way to make a cold winter night a little extra festive and relive a classic in a new way.
When to go: Thursday through Saturday from December 1st to the 17th at 7:30pm!
4. Cozy up in Musiikki Cafe
Winter wonderland ft. Whiskey? We're in. We adore this little cafe tucked on Brock St. for it's cool and intimate atmosphere that makes it the ideal winter escape. Head down here solo or with a friend to escape the hustle of the holidays and warm up with some artisanal coffee or fantastic Whiskey selection. We also love the community vibes here that really match the generous giving spirit of the Holidays, they aim to promote music and art, and create a space where anyone and everyone can come to hang out and collaborate. Spread that Christmas cheer listening to some live music, get funky at their trivia night, or spread some joy of your own at their open mic nights.
Insider tip: Check out their cosy holiday show with Taylor Angus and Logan Brown on December 22nd!
5. Head to Window Wonderland downtown and vote for your favourite to win 500$
Live out your dream of being a reality TV show judge until December 25th with Downtown Kingston's Window Wonderland contest! Stores all around the beautiful downtown hub of Kingston will be attempting to make their front windows as festive as your Uncle's ugly Christmas sweater, and you can take in all the beauty of them. Voting is closed now, but you can still be the artiste critic you always dreamed of being by taking a stroll downtown to take in all the festivities!
More info here!
6. Get your dose of classy festivities and get serenaded with The Kingston Symphony's: A Candlelight Christmas at the Isabel Bader Centre
The holidays are all about celebrating the joy and beauty in everyday life, and what better way to celebrate that beauty by being classy AF, dressing up to the nines in your flyest gear, and listening to a symphony?! AS IF the Bader wasn't classy enough, the Kingston Symphony Orchestra is coming in with a classic Christmas concert. Be merry, sing along, and get ready to get extra excited for the holidays!
When to go: Performances are December 20th and 21st at 7:30pm!
7. Spread the baked goods love with all your friends with local, handmade, VEGAN Christmas doughnuts
All gifts are made with love, and even it's not YOUR love specifically, they're made with I'm sure your friend isn't going to complain when they are delicious doughnuts. These mouth water doughnuts are handmade by the lovely Kimberly right in Kingston. It's a start-up company that aims to bring some vegan goodness and handmade products to anyone and everyone who wants a little extra sweetness this holiday season. Pair it with a movie night of Love Actually and you'll have an ideal holiday night!
8. Take stroll through winter wonderland for the perfect holiday afternoon (aka the Kingston Waterfront Path)
The waterfront is always beautiful in the summer, but there is something about looking at the sun setting beyond snow-covered horizon that really brings out the magic of the city. Blast some walking through a winter wonderland, grab your BFF, your bae, your dog, whoever! Take in the frosted trees, and the expansive icy oasis as you walk from Juniper Cafe with a warming cup of hot chocolate all the way through your own little snow globe.
9. Head to Kingston Grand Theatre for the quintessential Christmas production of The Nutcracker
You have to return to the basics sometimes during the chaos of the holiday seasons, and how nice is it that this staple theatrical holiday show's version of basic is anything but. Its actually an amazing performance of a beloved Christmas tale filled with talent way beyond your wildest dreams? Woah, that's our kind of basic. Even better? It's put on by the superb State Ballet Theatre of Russia, internationally known and renowned! Head to the Grand Theatre right in the middle of downtown for this amazing Christmas tradition! Want to make a night out of it? Make this night extra special by treating yourself to a mouth watering dinner at Le Chien Noir Bistro! Some fancy French bistro classics & 'Modern Brasserie' dishes ft. a night at the theatre (read in classy, posh, accent)?! That's a memory in the making!
When to go: December 10th at 3pm or 730pm!
10. Search for some elves with #DKELVES
It's like elf on the shelf, except when you find this elf you could be entered to win over $1100 in gift cards to downtown businesses. That's right, you get paid to shop, so it's basically proof that holiday magic is real. From December 2nd to December 23rd an "elf-ish crew" will be in a new shop downtown, all you have to do is post a picture to Instagram or Twitter with #DKelves and you're entered. Sounds like the best way to get your Christmas shopping done to us.
11. Gift your friend (and yourself) an amazing show at Cirque du Soliel
The circus is coming to town!!! Though this may not be the first thing you think of when you think of getting into the holiday spirit, that notion is about the change really fast when you see this performance. Internationally known as THE circus to see, head to the Rogers K-Rock Centre for their legendary show, OVO, with your favourite people and start off the memory making and amazement that always seems to come with the holidays. It's a perfect way to bring everyone together, and bonus- seeing people do things that you may not even be able to dream of doing (ie. how the f*ck did that just happen), will make this a holiday season to remember.
When to go: The show is running from December 7th-11th!
12. Spice up some classic Christmas carols with the Holiday Rock Show at Ale House
It's holiday szn in the hub, and Ale knows what's up. Your favourite club in the 613 is firing up on December 22nd for a show that adds a little twist to your classic holiday sing-alongs. This is for anyone who rocks around the Christmas tree day and night and is ready for an amazing time. Even better? Proceeds go to Martha's Table and Ryandale Shelter, so you're basically giving the best gift ever and getting a nice reward for yourself.
Tickets can be found here!
13. And finally, is it really the holidays if you can't meet St. Nick?
SANTA! I KNOW HIM! If that sums up your entire childhood/present state of holiday cheer, you have to head down to Market Square downtown every Saturday in December (the 3rd, 10th, 17th, and 24th) from 11am to 2p for a picture with Mr. Claus himself. It's the classic holiday tradition and we don't care what anyone says, we're never too old to enjoy the spirit of the season.
Insider tip: Make this the ULTIMATE holiday excursion and hop on a free horse wagon ride from the square and finish off your day with a delicious, decadent cinnamon roll (or 2 since they do have SIX kinds to choose from) from Crave for the ultimate Christmas date!
More info here!