Friday December 7, 2018

Christmas Getaway to Windsor Essex

Original blog by Tourism Windsor Essex

Kimberly Erin Davies, Walkaboot Travel | December 7th, 2018

Note: please contact event planners prior to visiting. Events change frequently and as this blog was posted in 2018, they may not be occurring this year. This blog should be used for inspiration, and you can check out our Holiday Event Guide for current event listings.

It’s December and you know what that means? It’s officially holiday season! I love the holidays, so it is not shocking that I would source out the best Christmas getaways in Ontario. Windsor Essex County has so many wonderful holiday offerings throughout November and December that I couldn’t resist checking them out. From tree lightings to parades to bumping into the big guy himself, I could not have been more impressed. Check out all the fun holiday activities Windsor and Essex County has in store and why you should visit when looking for Christmas getaways in Ontario.

The Iron Kettle Brea Boutique Christmas Tree Lighting

(editor’s note: the Iron Kettle tree lighting no longer occurs, but you can visit the Iron Kettle for tasty treats!)

What a fun way to kick off the season! The lovely folks at the Iron Kettle Bread Boutique in Comber, Ontario put together a serious Christmas Tree Lighting bash. Driving through the quiet streets of sleepy Comber I had no idea what to expect when I came upon crowds of people dispersed throughout the property…it was like the whole town showed up! The house was open for everyone to enjoy, to see how it was laid out and how it has been restored. This was a true open house.

In the front yard there were a variety of bonfires to sit around while enjoying some of the complimentary holiday food and drink options. The Iron Kettle was serving fresh made french fries, winter chili (vegetarian as well), hot soup, s’mores, coffee and hot chocolate with marshmallows. Portions were generous so one of each would have you feeling full. There were holiday carollers singing holiday tunes around the tree and in other locations on property. Arranged inside was a candy bar and a professional photographer busy taking pictures of families in front of the Christmas tree.

The Christmas tree lighting happened after one or two countdowns and the town erupted with cheers! If this doesn’t get you in the spirit of the holidays, I don’t know what will. The Iron Kettle Bed & Breakfast is the perfect place to spend Christmas in Ontario.

Willistead Manor Christmas Decorations in Windsor

Visiting the beautiful and historically relevant Willistead Manor, once owned by Hiram Walker’s son Edward Chandler Walker, is one of the best things to do in Windsor Ontario. The estate has been done up for the holidays in great detail. In such an affluent, uniquely designed house, there is no doubt that its Christmas decorations should be as decadent as the house itself. Put on by ‘the Friends of Willistead Manor’, preservationists and volunteers, the home is carefully curated and decorated for the holidays by interior designers and design classes from St. Clair College. With each room showcasing a specific theme, the house becomes the definition of coziness in the winter. A delight to explore.

Holiday House Tours in Amherstburg

The Amherstburg holiday home tours were a unique experience, an idea foreign to me, but one of the coolest Windsor events. Every year a few families have enough Christmas spirit to share and so for one weekend during the season they invite the community into their homes to experience their decorations. Tickets were $25 per person to allow access into 9 different holiday experiences. Initially I thought walking into random people’s homes would be odd, but with so many visitors participating it became more like a community Christmas Party. Some homes are decorated by designers with sponsors, and some were simply properties decorated by the homeowners themselves. Exploring the holiday season in Amherstburg was a blast.

Christmas Tree Dress Show at Vivace Estate Winery

Technically on the holiday house tour, but also an Epic Winery, Vivace Estate Winery hosted a Christmas party in their show room with the addition of Christmas tree dresses. These Christmas tree dresses were themed dresses complete with bodice and skirts made to look like a decorated Christmas trees. While walking around and enjoying the unique tree dresses, the winery had a wine and cheese tasting which consisted of one red and one white sample and all the cheese you could want. There was also a tea tasting and of course desserts. Packed to the brim with Christmas enthusiasts, there is definitely a reason this winery stop is so popular.

Epic Wineries Open House

Speaking of EPIC Wineries….The code for the Windsor Essex Pelee Island wine region is ‘EPIC Wine Region’ and is one of the best things to do in Windsor Canada. On one special weekend during the season, 12 of the wineries host the ‘EPIC Holiday Weekend Open House’. During the EPIC Holiday Weekend Open House, the wineries trade one food and wine pairing in exchange for one can of non-perishable foods to be donated to those less fortunate. This is their way of giving back to the community while providing visitors with a great experience. Some of the wineries involved include the famous Pelee Island Winery, Coopers Hawk Vineyards, and Aleksander Estate Winery. A fun way to ring in the holidays while supporting a charitable foundation.

Wreath Making Class at John R. Park Homestead

When considering places to spend Christmas in Ontario, this was a highlight for me! The historical homestead of John R. Park, a restored turn of the century home and farm, offers a wreath making class. Guests create wreathes from natural materials guided by veteran crafters. For $35, anyone can book a wreath making class where they are provided with coffee, hot chocolate, and all of the materials needed to make a Christmas wreath. The camaraderie among wreath makers was wonderful as everyone chatted amongst themselves. We had corn husks and berries and all kinds of materials to make our wreathes, supplemented of course with some delicious hearth made cookies. Check out my wreath.

Amherstburg Santa Claus Parade

I love a Santa Claus parade, guilty. There is just something about a community getting together to share in a holiday moment. I loved watching the Santa Clause parade near the waterfront of Amherstburg. There were plenty of floats, marching bands, and even the big guy himself. Yes Santa was the star but it was the crowds that made it special. People were cheering, dancing, having fun, and all had a chance to check out the River Lights Festival afterwards.

River Lights Festival Amherstburg and Fantasy of Lights Kingsville

The River Lights Festival in Amherstburg and the Fantasy of Lights in Kingsville are public parks which have been decorated with various Christmas lights and collections. Some of these were donated to the production by people in the town, noted by having their names on their Christmas stand while others were sourced elsewhere. Walking through both of the parks was a pleasant experience. I loved seeing everything so lit up.

Cindy’s is one of the best Christmas Stores in Ontario

That’s right, I said it. I had a blast doing my Christmas shopping in Essex County at Cindy’s in Kingsville, and I was surprised at the size of it. There is actually something for everyone here, from delicious food to fabulous fashion to adorable nick knacks, and all things Christmas. Cindy’s even has its own Christmas Market. When considering Christmas Markets in Ontario, this would be on my list.

Windsor Essex and Pelee Island has so much going on for the holiday season. Discovering what to do in Windsor Essex is wonderfully simple as every weekend has something unique and different happening with regards to the holidays. This Canadian location is a perfect choice for Christmas getaways in Ontario Southwest.

This blog was created in partnership with funding from Ontario Southwest. To explore more that you can do in #OntSouthwest check out


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