Foodie guide to Ontario’s winter festivals
Celebrate the flavours of winter at these festive foodie destinations.
From wine country to cottage country, and the nation’s capital to the north, winter heats up across Ontario with special festivals celebrating the season. Enjoy entertainment, activities, events, legendary mascots and amazing food.
The lights are on in Stratford! Explore light extravaganzas at several walkable locations including the swirling circles of THE POOL in Market Square, the multisensory AFFINITY light sculpture on Tom Patterson Island and the new Stratford-made displays along the Light Trail.
Come for the lights and stay for the bites. One of Ontario’s most prominent theatre and arts destinations is also home to notably diverse food and drink experiences.
Follow the chocolate trail or the bacon & ale trail, or both. Get your South African barbecue fix at the Braai House or head to the Grounded Vegan Café for plant-based salads, grills and wraps. And don’t miss the over-the-top flavours at Lazy Glaze Doughnuts.
New to the culinary scene, Elizabeth is where you’ll find elevated comfort, traditional cocktails and quality fare.
Location: downtown Stratford
Dates: December 16, 2022–January 27, 2023, 5:00 to 10:00 p.m.
Celebrate the Lunar New Year and explore authentic and fusion East and South East Asian cuisine in downtown Toronto’s Chinatown. You’ll find everything from spicy pho to steaming hot pots, dumplings, dim sum, bún, bánh mì, bibimbap bulgogi, sushi, maki and soul-warming noodle soups.
Toronto’s Chinatown is nestled west of Beverley Street and east of Augusta Avenue on Dundas Street West, and south of College Street and north of Queen Street on Spadina Avenue.
Note: Additional Lunar New Year celebrations take place throughout the Greater Toronto Area, including Markham, Mississauga and Scarborough.
Location: Chinatown neighbourhood in downtown Toronto
Dates: February 2023
Follow a self-guided ice sculpture trail around Yorkville, featuring some of the world’s most iconic destinations. The event will surely inspire you to visit one of the many globally inspired eateries in the neighbourhood.
Foodies will be delighted to discover five restaurants in the area were recently recognized by the MICHELIN Guide, with one, Sushi Masaki Saito, being the only restaurant in Canada awarded with two stars. The other spots are Osteria Giulia on Avenue Road, Aburi Hana, Alobar Yorkville and Enigma Yorkville.
If you’re looking for an elevated spot to sip a beverage, escape to the Writer’s Room Bar, the legendary rooftop lounge at the top of the Park Hyatt Hotel with a bird’s eye view of downtown.
Location: Yorkville, Toronto
Date: February 18–19, 2023
Hamilton’s Winterfest features over 50 community-run activities across the city ranging from author readings to park tours. In addition to live entertainment, virtual programming makes this urban event accessible to all.
And the best part? Hamilton is one of Ontario’s best destinations for foodies. From creative comfort eats to fine fusion dining, there’s something for every palate and craving, including halal, vegetarian and vegan. Be sure to include the weekend brunch at the Ancaster Mill.
There’s also a flourishing craft beer and cider scene in Hamilton, so plan for a brew at Collective Arts Brewery, Clifford Brewing, West Avenue Cider or one of the other excellent breweries and cideries.
Location: downtown Hamilton
Dates: February 2–20, 2023
Explore Canada’s most exciting foodie city one bite at a time during this much-loved prix fixe event. Participating restaurants offer special three-course menus that showcase the diverse and distinct culinary culture in Toronto.
Location: throughout Toronto
Dates: January 27–February 9, 2023
Experience delicious, innovative, regionally sourced and globally inspired food in one of Ontario’s favourite foodie cities. Kingstonlicious is a celebration of the best of Kingston’s culinary community.
The annual prix fixe event features everything from three-course dinners to casual takeout options from over 40 participating restaurants. Turn date night, girl’s night or dinner with your bestie into a weekend getaway in Kingston.
Location: throughout the city of Kingston
Dates: January–end of March 2023
Indulge in Ontario’s VQA wine culture and thriving culinary scene at wineries and restaurants across Niagara. Get your Niagara Icewine Discovery Pass to sample the finest “liquid gold” from dozens of wineries, paired with sweet and savoury chef-made treats.
Curated food pairings range from Icewine-inspired and -infused bisques, soups and stews to tarts, ice cream and gelatos.
Dates: January 13–15, 20–22, 27–29, 2023
Winterlude is one of the largest and most popular winter events in the nation and celebrates Ottawa’s cultural, artistic and culinary diversity. From intricate ice sculptures to ice skating along the Rideau Canal (the world’s longest skate trail), endless frosty fun in Canada’s capital will build up an appetite.
Warm up with nostalgic treats like hot chocolate, maple taffy, poutine and sweet or savoury BeaverTails. Central to all the highlights and activities, the ByWard Market is Ottawa’s famous foodie hotspot with great restaurants, cafes, bars, stalls and food shops. C’est Bon Cooking gourmet food tours offer guided walking tours to learn about the food and history of the neighbourhood.
Head to Becta Dining + Wine Bar for upscale Canadian cuisine. Have a tea or something stronger at the opulent Joy on Sussex or raise a glass at the Chateau Lafayette, affectionally known locally as the Laff, Ottawa’s oldest tavern.
Get tips on making the best cocktails from various Glebe restaurants, bars and cafes during the Winter Cocktail Corner. And visit the Ottawa Farmers’ Market on Sunday for fresh, local produce and food.
Location: downtown Ottawa
Dates: February 3–20, 2023
This animated and interactive outdoor sound and vision tour returns to Muskoka Heritage Place’ Rotary Village Station in Huntsville for another winter season.
Take an evening stroll along a nature trail featuring a brilliant light exhibition surrounded by the vibrant soundscape of music and spoken word that pay tribute to the seasons and lunar activities.
Note: You’re welcome to bring flashlights and reminded to dress warmly and wear boots.
Fuel up before your tour or linger for a treat afterwards. Huntsville’s main streets are lined with shops, restaurants, bakeries and breweries.
Enjoy refined atmosphere at Tall Trees, tasty all-day menu at Algonquin Café and Deli, craft brews and comfort food at Huntsville Brewhouse or dine at local landmark, On the Docks Pub. The sweeping views add to the ambiance at Eclipse Restaurant & Terrace at Deerhurst Resort.
Location: 100 Forbes Hill Drive, Huntsville
Dates: November 11, 2022 – Spring, 2023
Experience a Muskoka twist on the traditional winter carnival with fun activities like ice skating, fat biking and axe throwing and events that include ice sculpting demonstrations, lumberjack shows and fireworks during this exciting festival.
From roasted marshmallows, all-day popcorn and hot apple cider, enjoy sweet and savoury treats during the day. And for a more substantial meal, explore some of the cafes, restaurants and eateries in Bracebridge.
Located in one of the area’s oldest buildings, Basilico serves fresh Italian-inspired cuisine. Housed in a former service station, The Old Station Restaurant is a local foodie fixture. Savour the bold Indian, Thai and Indo-Chinese flavours at Marigold or Japanese fusion at Wabora.
Location: downtown Bracebridge
Dates: January 28, 2023
Celebrating snow and all the things we love about winter, Barrie’s seasonal festival involves a host of indoor and outdoor activities from snow sculpting and winter yoga to wildlife appreciation and unique art installations.
Location: downtown Barrie
Dates: February 1–March 31, 2023
Bon Soo is a long-standing winter tradition (60 years to be exact!) that celebrates the season with ice carving and snow sculptures, unique activities like snow slides and polar bear dips, entertainment, pancake breakfasts, a lovable mascot and, of course, great food.
Events and activities take place at various locations with headquarters at The Machine Shop on Huron Street in the Canal District.
Within this historic venue, you’ll find a selection of dining options from the upscale The Mill Steakhouse & Wine Bar to The Boiler Room, a casual wood-oven pizzeria or Blockhouse Pub. Nearby, the Mill Market Farmers’ Market brings together the best from Northern Ontario’s lakes, fields, forests, kitchens and workshops each Saturday.
From hearty northern Ontario barbecue traditions to authentic Italian and internationally inspired fusion, there are great dining options in “the Soo.” Start your day right at the Breakfast Pig Badass Eatery.
Location: Sault Ste. Marie
Dates: February 3–11, 2023
Find more food travel inspiration in Ontario’s foodie destinations.
Last updated: January 13, 2023