Christmas Parades and Winter Events in Guelph and Wellington County
It’s Noël in Guelph and Wellington, and all is swell! Today, we’ll be taking a quick look at what’s going on in the wintery months of November and December in the City of Guelph, and the communities in Wellington County.
Of course, there are always much-beloved activities like toboganning down one of Guelph’s many hills, or taking part in a public skate, but what sorts of ‘organized events’ are there?
Oftentimes, we present these sorts of lists – lists looking into the best locations and events in a city or area – in the tried, tested and thoroughly subjective form of a Top 5.
However, for a few reasons (including, but not limited to: the similar format of several events taking place in several locations; and the festive instinct to celebrate rather than rate), this will simply unfold thematically. Let’s get unfolding!
Ah, nothing says the holiday season is upon us quite like a parade. Lawn chairs run up and down previously busy streets as rosy-cheeked parade enthusiasts await with bated breath the arrival of the first float, local dignitary, or marching band.
Wellington County has quite a few Santa Claus parades every year, and each community – large or small – has something special to offer.
From the light-covered tractors of the Rockwood Santa Claus Parade, to the free hot dogs (a Christmas staple) in Puslinch, it’s a great place for parade lovers. Here are three local highlights.
85 SPRUCE Street Unit# 106, Cambridge, N1R4K4
85 SPRUCE Street, Cambridge, Ontario N1R4K4More
62 HEALEY Street, Elora, N0B1S0
62 HEALEY Street, Elora, Ontario N0B1S0More
31 KENT ST, Guelph, N1H3B6
31 Kent Street, Guelph, Ontario N1H3B6More
#24 -166 DEERPATH DR, Guelph, N1K0E2
166 Deerpath Drive, Guelph, Ontario N1K0E2More
115 ALLEN Street W, Waterloo, N2L1E8
115 ALLEN Street, Waterloo, Ontario N2L1E8More
31 KENT ST, Guelph, N1H3B6
31 KENT ST, Guelph, Ontario N1H3B6More
10 SALMON WAY, Whitby, L1N9M8
10 Salmon Way, Whitby, Ontario L1N9M8More
647 GRANGE RD, Guelph, N1E7L7
647 Grange Road, Guelph, Ontario N1E7L7More
With a population under 8,000, Elora is substantially smaller than nearby Guelph. But it just so happens to host some of Wellington County’s most celebrated events (Riverfest being perhaps the most celebrated of all). And the Elora Santa Claus Parade is one such event.
Organized by the Elora Lions Club, the Elora Santa Cluas Parade is an annual extravaganza that runs through downtown Elora (it typically starts around the intersection of Geddes Street and Sophia Street, heads south down Metcalfe Street, and then turns left onto East Mill Street to wrap things up.
One unique, distinguishing feature of the Elora Santa Claus Parade is that it runs at night.
This casts the parade in a different light (literally – day time and morning parades are illuminated by natural light, after all), and enables the floats to try different methods of standing out. You can check out the winning floats going all the way back to 2011 on the Elora Lions Club website here!
Fergus is a little slice of Scotland, right in the middle of Wellington County.
Well, perhaps not so little after all – after Guelph itself, it’s the largest community in Wellington County (over 20,000 people call Fergus home)! Like Elora, Fergus hosts some great events every year, such as local lads’ and lasses’ favourite: the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games.
The Fergus Santa Claus Parade takes place on the first Saturday of each December. It runs right through the heart of downtown Fergus, along St. Andrew Street West. Unlike the Elora parade, this one takes place during daylight hours.
It features everything parade-goers expect and love, with quite a few bagpipes to boot. It’s organized by the Fergus Lions Club; check their website for details (here).
Like parades themselves, our list of parades must eventually come to an end. So, last but not least, here is the Guelph Community Santa Claus Parade. Guelph is the only city in Wellington County, and as such, it’s got a much bigger population to draw upon for the parade.
That’s not to say every parade isn’t special, just that Guelph’s will be the biggest and busiest.
Every year, the Guelph Community Santa Parade draws thousands of attendees to the streets of lovely downtown Guelph.
It’s an excellent way to not only support the community through initiatives like food drives, but also to enjoy and celebrate local talent (give those marching bands somewhere to march!). You can find details on the Downtown Guelph Facebook page here, or on the Downtown Guelph website (Guelph Community Santa Claus Parade).
Oh, and did I mention there is a Santa Run at the Guelph Community Santa Parade? Don’t worry – it’s magnificent enough to warrant its own subsection. Which is coming up next!
Guelph’s Annual Santa Run
At the time of writing, this incredible event has only been running (the punning on running was intended) for under 5 years. But already, it’s soared to the top of the list as one of the finest Christmas events in all of Guelph and Wellington.
Participants dress in full Santa suits – white beard and all – and take part in a three kilometer run along the Guelph Santa Claus Parade route, just before the parade itself. It’s a pretty scenic route, starting at the River Run Centre on Woolwich Street.
The runners will then follow the Speed River north, before wrapping around and back down, ending by the intersection of Norfolk Street and Macdonell Street.
There is a registration fee, which increases slightly the closer to the date of the event you sign up, which includes the cost of the Santa Claus outfit. Proceeds go to support local Guelph charity, the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Guelph. Keep up to date with all the info, and register, here!
The Fergus Christmas Night Market
It’s exactly what it sounds like: a night market with a Christmas theme, in Fergus! Hosted in the spacious Centre Wellington Community Centre, in southern Fergus, this is an artsy market in which visitors are invited to imbibe hot chocolate as they browse.
Taking place in November, it’s a great way to find unique and locally-made gifts for December! Fergus events are listed here.
Christmas Festival at the Wellington County Museum
The Wellington County Museum, situated on Wellington County Road 18, right between Fergus and Elora, is a beautiful building with a fascinating history (it’s the oldest remaining ‘House of Industry and Refuge’ in Canada).
Every year, typically in December, the Museum hosts a fabulous Christmas event, replete with music, live performances, crafts and activities, refreshments, and much more.
So you can enjoy some Victorian Christmas traditions and treats, while learning about them at the same time! Check out the Wellington County Museum website here.
More to Explore
Part of what’s great about Guelph and Wellington County is that there are just so many communities, of various shapes and sizes, scattered about. These are just some of our favourite local parades and events; there are more to find, from the northern tip of the county in Wellington North, to the easternmost town of Erin.
Written by Will Kummer