After seeing how much both boys LOVED Upper Canada Village this past summer, we wanted to take them to see the more than one million lights that are set up over the holiday season.
And really, I just wanted to see their faces when they saw it all!
Luckily for us, though at the expense of a bit of winter ambiance, it was a warm evening just after Christmas when we bundled everyone up and made the short-ish trek from my parent’s farm to Morrisburg.
I was positively giddy with anticipation, the older one was excited, and the 3-year old had no idea what was going on. StrollerDad and grandparents were also along for the ride.
Even though it was hovering around 1 degree, I packed a bag with: mitts, extra mitts, snacks, water, extra hats, and more snacks. Apparently I mistook Upper Canada Village for an Antarctic hiking expedition. After spending a mini-fortune on food during our last visit, we had cereal (a staple of the boys’ diets) before leaving the house, brought along cookies and a small amount of cash for a treat. An evening excursion is a bit of an awkward time, with our usual dinner being around 6 and bedtime at 7:30. So it was a “do we eat supper at 4? Eat there? Eat in the car after???”
I’d heard that there can be amazingly long line ups to buy tickets, so we (I!) was prepared and bought them online beforehand (and it was free for the 3-year old) and when we got there at about 4:45pm, we got the first parking spot, saw that there was NO line at all, breezed through the ticket taking spot, and were in even before they officially opened at 5.
I’m pretty sure I stopped and said “Wow.” as soon as we entered the village. The buildings are lit up in reds, greens, blues, and yellows; the fences are adorned with lights all down their lengths, there are flashing lights and music, and just a really surreal beautiful atmosphere.
It was nice to be so early as there was no line for the horse and wagon ride (the sign is just past the bridge near the entrance). After taking a nice 10 minute tour around the village (my favourite sights were the orchard with the dangling “apples” and the signal tower lit up in blue), we skipped over to the FERRIS WHEEL(!) as there was hardly any line there either. Both boys were SO excited to see it, but as we got nearer to the front the 3-year old looked up and said “I am too small for dis” and went off with his dad, leaving just me and the big one.
His confident smile got a little smaller, while I hoped that I didn’t puke/pass out from fear once we were on it.
After loading ourselves in “DON’T. ROCK. IT!”, we started turning….and it was amazing. Probably my favourite part of the whole visit. The view from the top was spectacular as we looked at the lit-up church, the music and dancing lights in front of Crysler House, and the large hay bale maze laid out in front of us. Having complete darkness behind us and the cool air all around was magical.
AND, I got my first kiss at the top of a ferris wheel from a cute boy 😉
Then it was off to wander through the (muddy) maze with two small boys holding my hands, then walking along the streets seeing all the buildings. It’s quite dark of course and by then there were a lot more people. I wish I’d thought to stick a glow stick on each kid. The horses and wagons are also hard to see in the dark so there are designated pedestrian walkways in some parts as well as workers directing people with what my little guy referred to as “light sabers”.
The bakery was open, but very crowded, so we walked further to the candy store and had hot chocolate ($2.50) and cinnamon buns ($3.50). With that little pick-me-up the boys didn’t feel the cold and a little more walking and we were back at the church to listen to some carols. I think I could have sat there for an hour and just…relaxed. Maybe next time. Without kids!
StrollerDad was getting antsy with wanting to leave, so we did a bathroom pit stop (there are many around the village) and as it was nearing bedtime and a long drive home, we headed back to the car.
BUT, the line for the mini-train was relatively empty, so dodging StrollerDad’s withering looks, we jumped into line.
“It’s coming, it’s coming!”
The train rounded the curve and we got on for a musical and colourful 15 minute ride.
I think all of our timing with two kids was good because as we were leaving at 7pm there were loads of cars coming in and the lines for the wagon/ferris wheel/train were looooooong.
A small snack on the way home and the boys were passed out.
For all pricing, times, and opening dates please refer to the official Upper Canada Village WEBSITE.