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Canada in December: A Perfect Winter Destination

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Canada is a great place to visit in the winter. The country is home to many different Christmas markets, light shows, winter sports, and festive activities. You can find everything from Christmas cheer, a Narnia-like winter wonderland to snowy adventures in Canada in December.  

Edmonton Xmas market in December
Xmas celebrations in Canada

It is also a great place to spend New Year’s Eve, as there are many celebrations and fireworks displays to enjoy. 

If you’re looking for a winter holiday destination, Canada should be at the top of your list!

Canada in December: A perfect winter destination 

Canada in December

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What season is December in Canada? 

December is the first winter month. Anywhere you go, for the majority of the Canadian destinations snow and cold temperatures are normal. 

Some of the west coast cities might be warmer than most of Canada, but it is winter in the country as soon as we enter December. 

Canada experiences the coldest temperatures in January and not December.  

Waterfront area, Centennial Park Sylvan Lake
Canada in early December

When is winter in Canada? 

The months from December to February are the official winter season in Canada. 

Canada seasons: Canada has four distinct seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. The monthly breakdown is as follows

Read: Best places to visit in Canada in winter

Canada in December weather and temperatures: What is the weather in Canada during December?

The weather in December in Canada is cold with single-digit temperatures, even minus degrees are the norm. 

You will see snow on the ground, experience snow showers, and cold wind chill – so it definitely feels colder than the assigned temperatures. 

Here is what temperatures look like in various places in Canada in December,

Canada December weather

PlaceAverage
High
Average
Low
Average
Rainfall (days)
Toronto8 C
46.4 F
2 C
35.6 F
8
Ottawa5 C
41 F
– 2 C
28.4 F
9
Vancouver9 C
48.2 F
5 C
41 F
16
Edmonton1 C
33.8 F
– 8 C
17.6 F
3
Banff National
Park
1 C
33.8 F
– 8 C
17.6 F
5
Quebec City5 C
41 F
– 2 C
28.4 F
13
Montreal6 C
42.8 F
0 C
32 F
10
Saskatoon– 1 C
30.2 F
– 10 C
14 F
2
Halifax8 C
46.4 F
1 C
32 F
11
Charlottetown6 C
42.8 F
0 C
32 F
12
Weather data source: Weather.com

What to pack for a trip to Canada in December?

If you are planning a trip to Canada in the winter, make sure to pack warm clothes. The temperatures can vary significantly from one region to the next, so it is important to be prepared. 

Sunwapta Falls viewing area
Beanie, parka, gloves
Boots, sweater, scarf, jeans + leggings

Pack the following items for visiting Canada in December, 

  • Long sleeve tops and T-shirts: Pack long sleeve tops and blouses to layer on. 
  • Bottoms: Warm leggings are a must along with jeans.
  • Parka or warm packet: Carry a warm winter jacket, preferably a parka with waterproof or water repellent material. 
  • Long johns: Pack 1-2 pairs of thermal tops and bottoms for the duration of your trip.
  • Cardigan: Cardigans and sweaters to layer on. Pack merino wool cardigans as they are super warm, breathable, and lightweight (for packing).
  • Winter boots: Wear waterproof and sturdy winter boots. Ensure they are comfortable for walks, and hikes. 
  • Warm socks
  • Warm accessories: Bring your colorful beanies or toques, scarves, and gloves to stay warm and toasty!
  • Travel documents: Pack all the travel documents like tourist visas, any permits, tour and hotel bookings, insurance, etc.
Outside Winter igloo – Riverside Bistro

Remember you will only need 1 winter jacket, and 1-2 boots/shoes to start with. Depending on the duration of your trip, we recommend packing the required number of lightweight thermal wear (or long johns). 

You can surely add some colorful beanies to add a pop of color to your winter wear. 

Once again, layering is key to staying warm outdoors. 

What can you expect to see in Canada in December?

Canada comes alive with Christmas cheer during the month of December. You can find Christmas markets, light shows, and festive activities to enjoy. 

It is also a great place to visit in the winter for snowy adventures. The country is home to many different parks and trails. You can go cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and ice skating in Canadian winters. 

Skis at the Marmot Basin
Girl in Canmore Engine Bridge - Things to do in Canmore in winter
Winter hikes and walks

No matter what you choose to do in Canada during the winter, you are sure to have a great time. 

There are beautiful ski resorts that open up endless winter opportunities for fun. Even if you are not into skiing you can take lessons, admire mountain views and more. 

Canada in the winter is perfect to go ice skating, snowshoeing, hiking, ice walking, and tobogganing. 

Not into winter sports? Stay in a lovely resort with views of the snowy landscape. 

Pocahontas Cabin in winter review
Pocahontas Cabin in winter

Plus Canadian cities brighten up the cold weather with holiday festivities – Christmas markets, seasonal sales and menu, and lights festivals. 

New Year’s Eve is celebrated with displays and get-togethers. 

Events and festivals in December in Canada Winter

We have compiled the list of popular lights and festive events in popular Canadian destinations below

Toronto:

Toronto Christmas Market, begins in November through December
  • Kensington Market: Enjoy festive markets and Christmas food tours in December in Kensington Market.
  • Cavalcade of Lights: This is a month-long lights festival that takes place in Nathan Phillips Square.
  • Glow Toronto: This is considered to be one of the largest indoor Christmas markets in the world.
  • Toronto Christmas Market: This is a month-long street festival dedicated to traditional Christmas.
  • Winter Festival of Lights, Niagara Falls: This winter lights festival is one of the most delightful events in Canada. In this event, over 125 animated lighting displays are showcased, with around three million trees and lights creating a wonderful Narnia-like winter wonderland. You will also see illumination on the waterfalls. 

Montreal:

  • Noël dans le Parc: This is an annual tradition in Montreal in which the Christmas in the Park festival allows you to experience the magic of Christmas village. You can enjoy free entertainment and warm up by the bonfire. 
  • Railway Christmas: Known as the Exporail, this festival transports you to the Magic of Christmas inside a train. They are all decorated in festive colors in the Grand Gallery. You can also meet Santa along the way! 
  • Nutcracker Market: The Nutcracker Market starts at the end of November through December, and this is a great opportunity to buy rare items and take them back home as souvenirs from Canada. Items include dinnerware, jewelry, local products, and toys.
  • Fire on Ice: This festival showcases amazing musical fireworks over the Old Port of Montreal, making everything look magical and beautiful. This is one of the must-do urban experiences in winter in Canada.

Vancouver:

Vancouver Christmas Market that starts in November (Jack Poole Plaza)
  • Vancouver Christmas Market: Enjoy the European-themed Christmas market at Jack Poole Plaza. This event starts in November. 
  • Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge: This is our favorite lights festival in British Columbia. The Capilano Suspension Bridge is all decorated with twinkling lights and it looks stunning in the evenings! This event starts in late November/December and continues into the early weeks of the following year.
  • Bright Nights: Another lights event that takes place in an iconic spot at Stanley Park.
  • Festival of Lights: This lights event is held at VanDusen Botanical Garden.
  • Dundarave Festival of Lights: Christmas trees and related setup in West Vancouver.

There is at least one statutory holiday in December in Canada, and that is Christmas Day.  Most restaurants and retailers will close early on Christmas Eve, and many museums and attractions will be closed on the 25th. 

December 26 (a day after Christmas) is regarded as Boxing Day, and in certain provinces (or states) it is considered a stat holiday. This day is every shopper’s dream – tons of seasonal sales and retail offers and bargains to take advantage of. 

Best things to do in Canada in December: Where to travel in Canada in December 

Here are some of the top things to do in Canada in December,

Alberta in December

Alberta is a province in western Canada. Its landscape includes mountains, forests, and prairies. 

YEG Xmas Market
YEG X mas Market: Things to do in Canada in December

The cities of Edmonton and Calgary are located in the province. Alberta is well known for its winter festivals and activities. There are winter light shows and festivals like ‘Lights Up at the Legislature’, Drive through Christmas lanes, Ice Castles, Xmas market, and more.

Alberta in winter is cold – like very cold, which is perfect for a snowy getaway, white Christmas, ice castles, winter sports, and activities.

Banff National Park and the Canadian Rockies are the major crowd pullers to Alberta. Banff and Lake Louise are all decorated for the festive season, and almost all the ski resorts are open and taking in visitors. 

Wildlife in Banff winter

The second half of December is better for winter sports when lakes are solidly frozen, and there is enough snow in the valley for skiing.

Other than skiing, you can go snowshoeing, winter hikes, and ice walks in the canyons.

Expect lakes to be frozen, and snow everywhere with wind chill in Alberta.

British Columbia in December

British Columbia on the west coast has milder winters as compared to its Alberta neighbor. But you can still enjoy winter sports in places like Grouse Mountains (near Vancouver), Whistler, Squamish, Revelstoke, and Yoho National Park.

Photo of Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver, BC, Canada
Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Whistler is perfect for those looking to ski. This cute resort town is just 2 hours away from Vancouver, and it hosted the Winter Olympics in 2010. You will love Whistler for snowy adventures!

Places like Squamish, Revelstoke, and Yoho National Park are where you can enjoy winter hikes and snowshoe along with skiing.

Vancouver and Victoria are great to escape the white landscape but still ring in the festive mood. The Capilano Suspension Bridge is all lit up for the holiday season, and it is a must-visit.

The Capilano suspension bridge in Vancouver, Canada is lighted up for Christmas
The Capilano suspension bridge in Vancouver

Both the cities and their iconic hotels are jazzed up with decor, seasonal menus, and holiday cheer. You must take the time to check out different Christmas markets.

There is also a lot of great shopping to be had in the province during the holiday season. You can find everything from traditional Canadian souvenirs to high-end designer items to take back home.

Ontario in December

If you are looking for a winter getaway that is not as cold as Alberta, head to Ontario. The province is home to some of the best ski resorts in Canada.

The province has a population of over 14 million people and is home to Toronto, Ottawa, and Niagara Falls.

There are many different ski resorts to choose from in Ontario. If you are looking for a family-friendly ski resort, head to Mount St. Louis Moonstone. This ski resort is located near Barrie and has over 35 trails that are perfect for all levels of skiers.

Blue Mountain Village Ontario winter weekend getaways
Blue Mountain Village

If you are looking for a more challenging ski resort, head to Blue Mountain Ski Resort. This ski resort is located in Collingwood and has over 200 trails.

No matter what ski resort you choose, you are sure to have a great time skiing in Ontario.

In addition to skiing, you can also go snow tubing, snowmobiling, and ice skating in Ontario. There is no shortage of things to do in the province during the winter.

Ottawa’s Rideau Canal Skateway

Toronto and Ottawa are delightful with Christmas lights and ice skating rinks. Ottawa’s Rideau Canal Skateway is a must visit in the winter. This is the longest skating rink in the world at 7.8 km or 4.8 miles – now don’t miss this!

You must also head to Niagara Falls in December for a different perspective of this natural wonder!

Quebec in December

Quebec is a province in eastern Canada. It is home to Montreal, Quebec City, and Gatineau.

Montreal winter skating
Montreal winter skating

Montreal is a popular destination in Quebec during the winter. The city comes alive with Christmas cheer during the month of December. You can find Christmas markets, and festive illuminations like the underground tunnel (perfect to escape the cold for a bit).

Quebec City is also a popular destination during the winter. The city is home to many different winter festivals and night walks.

(Quebec Winter Carnival takes place in February though. This festival is one of the largest in the world and features parades, ice sculptures, snow baths, and more).

If you are looking for a winter getaway that is a little different than the typical ski resort, head to Gatineau. This city is located on the banks of the Ottawa River and is home to many different parks and trails. 

You can go cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating in Gatineau during the winter.

Ski resorts in Quebec include Mont Tremblant,  Mont-Sainte-Anne, Le Massif de Charlevoix to name a few. 

No matter what you choose to do in Quebec during the winter, you are sure to have a great time.

Yukon in December

The Yukon is a territory in northwest Canada. It is home to the city of Whitehorse and is the smallest of the three territories in Canada.

Strong northern lights (Aurora borealis) substorm on the night sky over downtown Whitehorse, capital of the Yukon Territory, Canada, in winter.

The Yukon is a great winter destination – in December. The territory has a population of just over 33,000 people and is home to many different ski resorts.

One of the most popular ski resorts in the Yukon is Mount Sima. 

In addition to skiing, you can also go dog sledding, fat biking, snowmobiling, and ice skating in the Yukon. There is no shortage of things to do in the territory during the winter. Temperatures can drop to -40 degrees C or – 40 F, making it one of the coldest destinations to visit in December.

You can also chase northern lights, and enjoy an epic drive along the Alaska Highway. Driving in winter in Yukon is safe, as long as you have winter tires on. 

Prince Edward Island in December

Prince Edward Island is a province in eastern Canada. It is home to the cities of Charlottetown and Summerside.

Charlottetown is the capital of Prince Edward Island and is a great place to visit in the winter. The city comes alive with Christmas cheer during the month of December. You can find Christmas markets, light shows, and festive activities to enjoy.

Summerside is also a great place to visit in the winter. And if you are looking for a winter getaway that is a little different than the typical ski resort, head to Prince Edward Island. This province is home to many different parks and trails. 

You can go snowshoeing, and ice skating on Prince Edward Island during the winter.

No matter what you choose to do on Prince Edward Island during the winter, you are sure to have a great time.

Newfoundland and Labrador in December

Newfoundland and Labrador is a province in eastern Canada. St. John’s is the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador and is a great place to visit. 

The city comes alive with Christmas cheer during the month of December. You can find Christmas markets, light shows, and festive activities to enjoy.

Corner Brook is also another place to visit in the province. The city is home to many different winter festivals, including the Corner Brook Winter Carnival. This festival is one of the largest in the province and features parades, ice sculptures, and more.

Nova Scotia in winter

Nova Scotia is a province in eastern Canada. It is home to the cities of Halifax and Sydney.

Halifax / Dartmouth Nova Scotia in December

Halifax is the capital of Nova Scotia and it lights up in December. Starting with the gorgeous Halifax Waterfront that is decorated for the Christmas season. 

The city comes alive with not only Christmas cheer during the month of December, but also opens up stargazing opportunities in the heart of Halifax. 

The province is also home to many charming towns that are worth visiting. In December you can still explore museums, go on road trips, visit places like Cape Breton Island, Peggy Cove, etc.

New Brunswick in December

New Brunswick is home to the cities of Fredericton and Moncton.

Fredericton is the capital of New Brunswick, and there are seasonal events and festive activities to enjoy. Moncton is another place where you can ring in the cold winter season, with light festivals, ice sculptures, and more.

If you wish to explore New Brunswick beyond December you can participate in Dieppe Winter Carnival (in February).

Or check out the World Pond Hockey Championship in Plaster Rock town. Both these events are held annually in February. You can also enjoy ice fishing from January onwards, including their Winter Fish NB Days that go on until March end!

Provinces like Saskatchewan and Manitoba are also some of the coldest in Canada, and their cities have festive celebrations – Christmas Lights, markets, and ice festivals in December and January. 

More Canada Travel Tips: Canada December Guide

Is December a good time to visit Canada?

Canada in December is cold, typically very cold in comparison to Europe or other winter destinations. It can be a good time to visit for snowy-related activities – think ski resorts, snowshoeing, dog sledding, etc. 
There are unique light festivals in Canada in December like drive-through ice festivals, ice castles, and more!

Is it cold in Canada in December?

Yes. It is cold in Canada in December. Minus degree temperatures are the norm (typically low single digits in Celcius, or 23 F). Expect negative degrees in northern and higher altitudes. Wind chill in the air makes it colder than the temperatures (feels like temperatures).

Is Canada worth visiting in winter?

100000% Yes. Canada is worth visiting in the winter. There is no place in the world with a guaranteed white Christmas, stunning snowy landscapes, cozy cabins, and unlimited winter activities to enjoy in the lap of nature!

December is a great time to visit Canada. The weather may be chilly, but the holiday cheer and festive activities are sure to warm you up! 

Spend your Christmas holidays in Canada, stay here until the New Year and escape into Narnia’s wonderland with the snowy landscape and some outdoor winter fun. 

Read more of our Canada travel inspiration guides below,

Pin: Guide to Visiting Canada in December Winter Guide

Canada in December

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