Still Standing

6 small-town holiday celebrations across Canada that help make the season merry

Do you ever wonder how other towns celebrate the season? We do!

Do you ever wonder how other towns celebrate the season? We do!

The annual boat lighting in Port-de-Grave, N.L. (Courtesy Joyce Morgan)

Do you ever wonder how other towns celebrate the season? We do! And we really wanted to know how small towns across this big country get festive for the holidays. So we asked and thankfully, you answered! There are so many wonderful traditions in place from coast to coast. So here are just a few that we simply had to share. 

1. Lutefisk supper in Kingman, A.B.

The 2017 lutefisk supper in Kingman. (Courtesy of the Kingman Recreation Association)

On the first Friday of every December, the town of Kingman, Alberta celebrates the season with their annual lutefisk supper. Krista Bowick informed us on Facebook that this tiny town is actually known as "the lutefisk capital of Alberta." Kingman's unique community meal is a Norwegian tradition and includes all the trimmings — and obviously there's always plenty of lutefisk! And if you're wondering what lutefisk is, it's a traditional Nordic dish made from white fish, and it's translation means "lye fish." This annual dinner is a wonderful way to help support the community hall and connect with friends for some festive fun.

2. Christmas Eve gifts straight from Santa himself in Rigolet, Labrador

The town of Rigolet, Labrador celebrates the holidays with a month-long celebration. This includes a community dinner, parade and a tree lighting. But, as Candice Elson shared with us, "the main event is held on Christmas Eve when Santa Claus comes to the community hall and hands out a gift to the children of the town." And if this sounds familiar, Terri Healey tells us that the kids of Mary's Harbour, Labrador also get a gift from Santa himself on Christmas Eve!

3. Moonlight Madness in Qualicum Beach, B.C.

The Oceanside Jammers take part in Qualicum Beach's 2018's celebration. (Courtesy of Carla Flegel)

This small town ushers in the holiday season each year with Vancouver Island's largest pyjama party. For one night only each year, the town of Qualicum Beach, British Columbia parties while they shop for presents. They also light up the Christmas tree in the town square and welcome Santa. Stores stay open late, there are plenty of bargains to be had and pyjamas are highly encouraged. Carla Flegel tells us on Facebook that she belongs to an aptly named fiddle group called the Oceanside Jammers that wanders around town playing music for the shoppers in unexpected places, such as the paint display in the hardware store or at the cheese counter in the grocery store. "Nothing like 25-30 fiddlers to get 'yer attention!" says Flegel.

4. The Santa run in Stellarton, N.S.

And during Santa's busiest season, the fire department in Stellarton, Nova Scotia helps him get around town in style. Tracey A. Ryan told us on Facebook that the Santa run has been a tradition in this Pictou County town "for at least 40 years!" Every year on Christmas Eve, the man in the big red suit hops aboard a firetruck to match his ensemble and is escorted through the streets. No word yet on if his reindeer get to join him.     

5. The annual boat lighting in Port de Grave, N.L.

A ship in the harbour decorated for Port de Grave's boat lighting in 2015. (Submitted by Joyce Morgan)

While most communities gather around a town square for a Christmas tree lighting, Port de Grave, Newfoundland kicks of the Christmas season by lighting up the boats in the harbour. An annual event for the past two decades, the boat lighting has become a highly anticipated tradition to help usher in the season. Thousands flock to this tiny seaside town each year to see the harbour become a magical sight with its countless strands of lights on dozens of fishing boats. "Pictures don't do it justice," Crystal Smith-Vince tells us on Facebook. And in addition to the floating Christmas display, there's always hot chocolate, carolling, a visit from Mummers and of course, Santa.      

6. ChristmasFest in Port Dover, Ont.

Mr. and Mrs. Claus' 2018 arrival via the tugboat Loganville. (Courtesy of Andrea Drayer)

We always assumed Santa travelled by sleigh, but in the small town of Port Dover, Ontario Mr. and Mrs. Claus arrive by ship. Via fish tug or tugboat, to be exact! Maurie MacDonald from Facebook says that the Clauses are greeted at the pier and once on land, they "hop in a horse-drawn sleigh, and head up Main St. from the harbour, followed by a parade." This power couple's arrival is part of a weekend-long celebration called ChristmasFest featuring fireworks, carolling, bake sales, bazaars and even a bonfire on the beach.

Originally published in November 2018.