simcoe panorama

There's an unreal riverside lights festival near Toronto this winter

Holiday lights season is always the prettiest time of the year. Toronto explodes with festive displays across the city, from public squares to residential streets. Some of the biggest events, however, are found outside the city in towns across the province.

These days there are dozens of incredible holiday lights festivals within a couple hours of Toronto, but the one that started the trend is the Simcoe Christmas Panorama, which was founded all the way back in 1958. This year, it celebrates its 60th anniversary.

Dubbed the River of Lights, the festival now involves thousands of lights and over 60 displays spread across the town's downtown parks beside the Lynn River. It doesn't get much more scenic than this.

A good way to to think of the Simcoe Christmas Panorama is as a Santa Claus parade in suspended animation—because to a great degree, that's what it is.

The festival was born when parade floats were abandoned in Wellington Park after a rained out event. The following year, organizers decided to take the rest of the floats and install them in the park for the town to enjoy over the entire festive season.

A full tour of the displays lasts about 45 minutes. For those who really want to dial up the festive charm, there are also horse-drawn trolley tours on weekends throughout December.

The opening night event for the Panorama this year took place on December 1 at 6 p.m. The lights are now turned on each day between 5:30 and 11 p.m. The festival concludes on January 6, 2019.

Lead photo by

classicsandcoffee


Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in Sports & Play

Niagara Falls has frozen over and it is beautiful

The top 10 winter fitness bootcamps in Toronto

The top winter hiking trails in Toronto

These epic frozen waterfalls are just one hour from Toronto

Toronto's long promised skating trail might finally open this year

You can snowshoe through a moonlit forest near Toronto this winter

Drake's new $2.2 million hypercar coming to Toronto for Auto Show

Toronto Blue Jays unveil new premium seats for big-time ballers