The most wonderful time of the year is upon us, bringing a flurry of magical activities to the city.

Make your way through our festive to-do list, full of memorable reasons to visit Hamilton for the holidays.

1. Experience magic in the garden: Holiday Traditions

Royal Botanical Gardens
Various dates

The country's largest botanical garden is arguably one of the most magical holiday destinations in the region.

Hop aboard the RBG Express as it leads your family through a winter wonderland lit with thousands of twinkling lights. Throw in hot cocoa, crafting, storytelling, and personalized visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus and you've got yourself a truly perfect holiday outing.

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2. Head home for the holidays: Holiday Events at Hamilton Civic Museums

Whitehern Historic House, Battlefield House, Dundurn Castle
November 16 – January 5 (tour dates vary)

Not just for history buffs, these iconic historic sites have long been favourite holiday destinations for both locals and visitors.

Step back in time to experience the warmth and simplicity of an early 19th century Christmas at Battlefield House or see a more elegant take on the season at Whitehern Historic House - one of the country's most intact historic homes.

Visit Hamilton's cherished Dundurn Castle for a truly opulent Victorian experience complete with cedar boughs, ribbons, special china and a gorgeous tree. Special evening tours are also a must-try.

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3. Choo-choose to attend a national holiday tradition: CP Holiday Train

Gage Park
November 28

CP Holiday Train

The CP Holiday Train brings festive cheer to 164 communities along CP’s rail network through its beautifully lit train cars and exciting live performances. This year, the Hamilton stop hosts Alan Doyle and Beautiful Band at the south side of Gage Park where the train pulls in. Don't forget to bring a canned food item or spare change - the event is free, but on-site donations to a local food bank are very much appreciated.

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4. Soar above the city: Christmas in Gore Park

Gore Park
December 6 – 23

This annual Hamilton holiday tradition signals the unofficial start of the season in the city. Join us as we light up the Christmas Tree of Hope in downtown's Gore Park with live music by Big Rude Jake, Santa Selfies and free maple taffy on Dec. 6.

Soar high with a free ride on the Gore Park Ferris Wheel offering ‘grammable views of the twinkling downtown cityscape (running until December 23). And don't miss the on-site open-air Christmas Market from Dec. 6 to 8.

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5. Crack a smile: The Nutcracker

FirstOntario Concert Hall
December 7

Nutcracker ballet

A Canadian tradition featuring Tchaikovsky's well-loved score, Ballet Jörgen's dreamy performance follows Klara's familiar journey as she arrives in Canada and experiences winter landscapes filled with snowflakes, lumberjacks, Mounties, and creatures of the woods.

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6. Travel back in time: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas

Westfield Heritage Village
December 7, 14, 21

Slow down, unplug and enjoy the warmth of the season by candlelight at this charming living history museum in the country. Music, food samples, fireworks and a visit from Father Christmas round out this special programming. Unique Christmas shopping is available at the Gift Shop.

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7. Holiday Live Shows and Concerts

'Tis the season for enjoying a live show. Here are just some of the holiday highlights worth visiting Hamilton for this:

Handel's Messiah

Brott Music Festival
December 2 and 3

A must-see Christmas tradition, Brott Music Festival’s Messiah is the region’s best! Start your holiday season with this spine-tingling show.

The Snowman

Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra
December 21

Enjoy the animated holiday film The Snowman with a live orchestral accompaniment by the Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, the Hamilton Children's Choir and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra.

In the Christmas Mood with the Glenn Miller Orchestra

FirstOntario Concert Hall
December 22

Spend the season with one of the most sought-after big bands in the world. New York's famous Glenn Miller Orchestra brings a spectacular new holiday show to Hamilton full of timeless hits and a twist on favourite holiday songs.

JR Digs' 11th Annual Acoustic Christmas Concert

The Concert Hall
December 23

This unique made-in-Hamilton holiday show features some of the region's most iconic musicians playing their take on holiday classics for a good cause. The popular event is hosted by television personality JR Digs.

8. Have an Ice Day: Skating at Pier 8

West Harbour

Enjoy picturesque views of the bay and Hamilton Harbour as you glide across Pier 8's Waterfront rink. No skates? No problem. With on-site skate rentals and safety equipment available for rent, everyone can enjoy this winter pastime, worry free. Tuck into Williams Coffee Pub next door for something warm to drink or a bite to eat afterward.

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9. Eat, Drink and Be Merry: Delicious. It's in Our Character.

Is it even a holiday if you don't indulge in delicious food and drink? Help fuel your seasonal merriment at these delicious eateries, coffee-shops, breweries, bars, and desert shops. We promise - they're all worth a visit and they're all very delicious.

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For loads more festive things to enjoy in the city, visit our event calendar.

Peace and love to you and yours this holiday season from your friends at Tourism Hamilton!