Monday December 16, 2019

Four Ways to Kickstart The Holiday Spirit

Original blog by Natalie Hillis

Original blog by Natalie H. | December 16, 2019

After a long work week and the recent cold snap in the weather, I found myself feeling very blah. When my friend who grew up in Windsor but hadn’t been home in years decided to make an impromptu visit I realized I had to give her the ultimate Windsor holiday experience with a combination of new events and some classic Windsor nostalgia. Here are the four things we did to ignite that holiday flame:


Everyone knows that the holidays are for indulgence – and that is what we found over at one of Walkerville’s newest additions – Ortona 1864. With it’s cozy but chique décor and it’s location right in the heart of Walkerville, it did not disappoint. The bartender was serving up some delicious drinks like the Autumn Daiquiri that featured cinnamon bark syrup, and the Sicilian Fizz featuring Malfy Blood Orange Gin.

We tried the Gnocchi Poutine that had deep fried gnocchi and boccocini pearls with braised short rib sugo. We also had the Braised Short Rib Florentine Sandwich and it had to be some of the most flavorful and tender short rib I’ve ever had. The staff was very welcoming and the fact that it is a smaller space allowed them to really bring their personal touch to the restaurant.

Even though we were so full we were ready to burst, we still HAD to head over to the Windsor Eats food trailer at Bright Lights Windsor to try the maple butter cheesecake waffle on a stick, which was just the treat we deserved after a long day of eating, drinking, and exploring.


We started the next day off with beer (can’t go wrong there!) at Sandwich Brewing Co. before heading to the Miracle In Sandwich event. We wanted a bite to eat and ended up ordering the Brewer’s Board and were wowed by the presentation and variety of flavors and textures including my favorite red pepper jelly made by Lakeside Packing Co. in Harrow. We ordered a beer flight and got to try out their Prairie Sunshine, Quick Lunch, Costa del Guava, and their Ruby Sue beers.

In need of a little caffeine to fuel the next step of our journey, we stopped in to Anchor Coffee House in Walkerville and indulged with a peppermint mocha latte and a Christmas sugar cookie sandwich filled with chocolate buttercream (woah). 


The Mistletoe Market did NOT disappoint! We picked up our W.E. Made It Holiday Gift Guide and wandered through so many booths featuring talented local artisans – it definitely didn’t hurt that you were able to enjoy a Walkerville Brewery beer WHILE you shopped.

I ended up falling in love with the Candy Cane lip balm made by Shakespeare’s Bathtub, and picked up a gorgeous pair of earrings from AloraFlora at the Whiskeyjack Boutique table. I also spent way too long looking through the beautiful prints by Hollow and Fir and chatting with the lovely owners of BENT, which sells beautifully crafted local wood products and unique jewelry. I was finding so many things I loved I almost forgot I was there to buy Christmas presents. (Though I did get quite a few things crossed off my shopping list in the end!)

I also picked up a few of the Flight Log Passports as part of the Barrels, Bottles & Brews program which features a unique experience of trying a flight from breweries & distilleries all over Windsor-Essex county. It’s an amazing gift idea for that beer-lover in your life, or anyone who could use an excuse for a little adventure. For only $25 you get $140 value in tastings and treats at a dozen places across Windsor Essex! I picked mine up at Sandwich Brewing Co. but they are available at all participating craft breweries and distilleries.

I always love any chance I get to shop local for gifts – you are always able to find something truly unique and there’s just something so satisfying in knowing that your money is going right back into your own community. You can check out a ton of local artisans on Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island’s W.E. Made It program. From beautiful custom art & jewelry, to delicious treats and stunning home decor, you’re sure to find something for everyone on your list! (And let’s be real – you may find a few gifts for yourself too!) Make sure to check out their W.E. Made It Gift Guide for great gift ideas!


We took a stroll down Sandwich Street for Miracle in Sandwich which had lots of little festive activities planned with something for the whole family – everything from face painting, hot apple cider, touring the Duff Baby House (the oldest house in Windsor), to even watching Santa join in on a drum circle! It was such a fun day in one of Windsor’s historic neighbourhoods.

As a Windsor local, I have visited Willistead Manor many times over the years – but it never gets old. They always do such a beautiful job decorating for the holidays, every room is ideal for the perfect Christmas photo op. The Manor is beautifully decorated and steeped in local history. You can explore at your own pace on a self-guided tour with friendly volunteers in each room to share interesting tidbits with you. Holiday tours at the Manor are on through the rest of the month and I would highly recommend taking some time to explore this beautiful local space.

After we were full of food (and beer) we headed to Jackson Park for the Bright Lights Windsor festival. With a variety of holiday, local, and abstract light pieces it really managed to light that little spark that some might call the “holiday spirit.”  There were lights everywhere and the crowd was in awe of how the park was magically transformed.

Bonus! Even more W.E. Made It vendors at the Bright Lights market area with local artisans and retailers selling their wares each weekend.  Between the sights, the shopping and the delicious snacks, I can’t even decide on a favourite! There were so many Instagram-worthy moments, lots of laughs, and perhaps the best was belting Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer at the top of our lungs with a bunch of strangers. So bundle up, grab yourself a hot chocolate or a waffle on a stick and take a little stroll through the beautifully lit park.  There is so much to see!

If you get the chance to explore even just a few things on this list you are sure to be feeling holly jolly in no time.  Make sure to check out for even more events and holiday fun!  We had a great weekend exploring our city and we know you will too.



"Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn`t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!" Get into the Holiday spirit with a classic! #YQG #WindsorEssex #DiscoverON #DiscoverYQG #DiscoverCanada #OntSouthwest #YQGHolidays

📷 @hoofandhoundphotography

36 1

Step back in time to enjoy Christmas at the Heritage Village! Don`t miss your chance to go to this magical event which runs until December 23 (select dates) #YQG #WindsorEssex #DiscoverON #DiscoverYQG #DiscoverCanada #OntSouthwest #YQGHolidays ...

41 0

Visiting friends and family this season and looking for host or hostess gift ideas? Check out our Holiday Gift Guide at for perfect ideas! #YQG #WindsorEssex #DiscoverON #DiscoverCanada #DiscoverYQG #YQGholidays

📍 @sloaneswoodworking
📍 @wagnerdinnerware
📍 @peleewinery
📍 @drinkwolfhead
📍 @soffi__studio
📍 @chancecoffee

37 0