The most wonderful time of the year is upon us, bringing a flurry of exciting holiday activities to Hamilton. So grab a hot cocoa (or two), a friend (or three), and tap into your childlike wonder by making your way through our festive to-do list, full of memorable reasons to visit Hamilton for the holidays.
Head to the North Pole
Various dates, until December 23.
Hop aboard the RBG express as it leads you and your family through a winter wonderland! With hot cocoa, cookies, crafting, storytelling, and a personalized visit with Santa to coincide, it’s the perfect way to put a twinkle in your kids’ eyes. This is a special event with limited spaces, so avoid disappointment and get your tickets soon. For an added bonus, stop by the Escarpment Train Exhibit – a magical journey through four seasons of Canadian landscapes with the story of how railroads shaped our history.
Light up your life
November 17-December 30th, Thursday – Sunday evenings
The perfect way to ignite your Christmas spirit, this experience will guide you through thousands of twinkling lights on a one kilometer walk through RBG’s Rock Garden. Along the way, wet your whistle with some festive drinks and nibble on some treats, while enjoying the sounds of the season and the Escarpment Train Exhibit.
Head home for the holidays
Visit historic Whitehern, Battlefield, Dundurn Castle
November 17 – January 6 (tour dates vary)
For the history buffs and everyone between, Hamilton’s national historic sites are long favoured visits during the holiday season. Decked out with festive trees, evergreen boughs, gorgeous mantles, and the aromas of Christmas, tours at any three of these homes will take you back to old time traditions – perhaps inspiring new ones of your own!
Stuff Your Stockings
November 23 -24
An especially ideal market for those who are responsible for filling decorative socks late on Christmas eve – nog in hand – Stuffed! dishes out handmade stocking stuffers that are all local, and all thoughtful. With live music and a DJ providing music for the ears, as well as libations provided by Meanwhile Bar and Donut Monster, there’s something at this market for everyone.
Choo-choose to attend a national holiday tradition
Launched in 1999, 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 the Sam Roberts Band and JoJo Mason 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.
Don’t be a cotton-headed ninny muggins!
November 28 – December 24
An acclaimed adaptation of the 2003 movie, Elf – The Musical is the story of Buddy, who’s raised in Santa’s workshop and unaware that he’s actually a human. Forced to face the truth, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to discover his true identity, win over his new family and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. A perfect outing for kicking off the holiday season!
Drink and be merry
Warm your belly and celebrate Ontario’s independent craft brewers at the RBG’s fourth annual Fest of Ales! For only $35 (a cheap date night, if you ask us), your ticket gets you your own mug, 6 x 5oz pours, and access to countless vendors and brewing experts via an engaging speaker series. Eclectic DJs will set the tone for the night, with trains and greenhouse tours to round out the whole experience.
See the sights
December 7 – 23
Soar above the trees with a free ride on Gore Park’s Ferris wheel! Offering ‘grammable views of Hamilton’s twinkling cityscape, the Ferris wheel will undoubtedly be the crown jewel of the park’s holiday offerings, which include the lighting of the Christmas Tree of Hope on the 7th, and the one-weekend-only Christmas market running the 7th to the 9th.
Crack a smile
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
Give a Gift
Hosted at the historic Staircase Cafe Theatre, this market features 32 fine makers of jewelry, textile art, ceramics, visual art, accessories, home decor and much more. A great introduction to Hamilton’s craftier side. The first 50 shoppers on both days will be given a free swag bag, so don’t sleep in too late, lest you miss out!
Travel back in time
December 8, 15, 22
Enjoy the warmth of the season by candlelight at Westfield! Featuring music, nibbles, fireworks, and a visit from Mr. Christmas himself, this event makes for a fun-filled evening with family. Have some last minute Christmas shopping to tend to? Gifts can be purchased at Westfield’s Gift Shop.
Cozy up for a Christmas story
A winter classic returns to Hamilton! Narrated by Roch Carrier and Gemma New, The Hockey Sweater is layered beautifully with music by the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and composer-in-Residence, Abigail Richardson Schulte. Audience members are encouraged to sport their favourite hockey jersey: Maurice Richard would be an especially appropriate choice!
Have an ice day
Go ice skating at Pier 8
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, skate sharpening, 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.
Peace and love to you and yours this holiday season from your friends at Tourism Hamilton!