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Ho-Ho Canada: Santa Claus Parades in North America

If you want to visit Santa Claus himself this Christmas, forget Lapland; it’s all about Canada. Each year in late November and early December Canadian cities celebrate the spirit of Christmas by hosting huge scale Santa Claus parades. And good news; flights to Canada are less expensive during the winter months than the summer.

Pic: David R Caroll, Flickr

Toronto hosts the world’s largest Santa Claus parade, which has entertained generations of Canadian children since 1905. The parade started as a publicity stunt by the large department store, Timothy Eaton’s. The first year Santa arrived on foot; but by 1910 reindeers were imported from Labrador to pull his sleigh and the parade continued to grow in size with new floats being added each year.

Geeky travellers will be glad to hear that The Toronto Santa Claus parade has started to integrate new technology into proceedings. iPhone users can download an app to show where Santa is on his route, and this year Santa’s sleigh will be equipped with a camera. The camera takes pictures of revellers, who can then download the photo of themselves from the parade website.

The Rogers Santa Claus Parade in Vancouver really captures the spirit of Christmas. Parade watchers are encouraged to bring gifts and food to be distributed to those less fortunate. And with 60 bands and floats, the parade is certainly not small scale. Arrive early to get a good seat and enjoy pre-parade activities such as face painting and gingerbread making. Afterwards, enjoy some ice skating in the park.

Santa's married? Pic 2sirius, Flickr

You can find a similarly charitable event in Ottawa, Ontario, with the Help Santa Toy Parade organised by the Fire Fighters’ Association. Along the parade route toys and cash are collected to help Santa give unfortunate children a Merry Christmas. After visiting this parade you’re likely to leave with a warm and fuzzy feeling.

A trip to Canada might feel wasted without a visit to the famous Niagara Falls waterfall, so you’ll be glad to hear that the town of Niagara Falls also hosts its own Santa Claus parade with free Tim Horton’s hot chocolate at the end. Perfect for warming chilly fingers! Once the parade is over you will be in the prime position to see the falls, a stunning area of natural beauty.

Another reason many choose to stay west when flying to Canada is that flights to Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal are generally cheaper than flights to Calgary, Edmonton or Vancouver.

In Halifax, Santa puts in an appearance during the Annual Chronicle Herald Holiday Parade of Lights. The event includes festive floats, Christmas carollers, majorettes, and live marching bands. As well as collecting toys and non-perishable food for less fortunate people, Canada Post will be on hand to collect letters for Santa (only from children on his ‘good’ list, of course).

Pic 2sirius, Flickr

There are a few smaller scale parades in cities such as New Brunswick, Regina, and Montreal. In fact, New Brunswick boasts two Santa Claus parades: the Kinsmen Santa Claus Parade and the Saint John Santa Claus Parade.

It’s no wonder that Santa should choose to host such elaborate celebrations in Canada; Jolly Saint Nick is himself a Canadian citizen. Santa was officially declared a Canadian citizen by the Department of Immigration in 2008, with minister Jason Kenney stating “We wish Mr. Claus all the best in his Christmas Eve duties again this year, and rest assured, as a Canadian citizen living in Canada’s North, he can re-enter Canada freely once his trip around the world is complete.”

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