The Best Dog-friendly Christmas Events, Light Displays, and Drive-Thrus in Ontario

Tis the season … to grab the dog, jump into the car and head out to awe at Christmas light shows in a town near you. Finding dog-friendly Christmas events can be time consuming because you have to search the websites for answers. Don’t worry, we did that for you! All listed here are dog-friendly holiday light displays – fur sure.

This year particularly – as we’re still looking for ways to keep our distance from others and many of us have pandemic puppies at home who haven’t been left alone for long – drive-thru light shows are the new dog-friendly activity.

Granted, drive-through light shows isn’t new, but there seems to be more of them – and more of them require a car to experience. So, if you’re in the car, why not bring the dog along? What do dogs think of bright lights, towering Christmas trees, and tunnels of ‘stars?’

I’m looking forward to finding out. My own pandemic pup is old enough to take a very enthusiastic interest in her surroundings, whether these are drive-thru experiences or a walk in the park.

Years ago, I took my pup’s predecessor, Victor, to Bingemans Gift of Lights in Kitchener, Ontario. How much he could see or hear in his advanced years, I’m not sure. But he politely and quietly curled up in the car as we drove past blinking motifs of penguins, skiers, wreath-adorn reindeer, and a canopy of tiny white lights lighting up the car like a million stars.

Of course, he enjoyed other dog-friendly Christmas events much more when he was younger, especially those that allowed him some walking or running time among the snow and ice. One of his favourites was the Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights, where I’m hoping to make a weekend of it with my new dog this holiday season – watch for upcoming information about dog-friendly hotels in Niagara Falls and more.

Also, the Glenhyrst Gallery in Brantford, Ontario is on the list. The gallery turns its outdoor sculpture parks into a walk-through or drive-around winter festival.

Despite the cold, Victor loved visiting the Christmas Panorama of Lights in Simcoe, Ontario in Norfolk County because that’s a long walk around a grassy snow-covered park. My favourite is Burlington, Ontario’s waterfront light show – that’s also within driving distance of my dog Victoria’s favourite leash-free park on King Road.

I’m looking forward to revisiting all these holiday light shows with my new dog – a Sprocker (half Springer/half Cocker Spaniel) – whose energy and curiosity knows no bounds.

In the USA? Check out these dog-friendly Christmas event options here. or The Magic of Lights drive through experiences here.

holiday gifts

If you’re looking for dog-friendly outdoor light show options to see with your fearless Fido, check out this Southern Ontario list. (If you’re in the US, we’ve got you covered here). We’ve researched the ‘dog friendly’ part, so you don’t have to:

The dogtrotting.net guide to Dog-friendly Christmas Events and Light Shows in Ontario

Brantford, Ontario

What: Brantford Lights at Glenhyrst Art Gallery (Outdoor Sculpture Park)

Where: Glenhyrst Art Gallery, 20 Ava Road, Brantford, Ontario

When: December 3, 2021, to January 1, 2022, 6 pm to 9 pm

Cost: free

Dog rules: You can drive the circle with your dog in the car or walk through the event (though parking is limited) with leashed dogs.

Burlington, Ontario

What: Burlington Festival of Lights, Burlington, Ontario

Where: Spencer Park, 1400 Lakeshore Road, Burlington, Ontario

When: November 26, 2021, to January 8, 2022, 4 pm to midnight

Cost: free (but parking charges downtown and in municipal parking lots)

Dog rules: The light display is along a public walkway/park on the shores of Lake Ontario, so the municipal rules regarding dog walking apply – leashed dogs are welcome.

Kitchener, Ontario

What: Bingemans Gift of Lights drive-thru holiday experience

Where: Bingemans Park,

When: November 13, 2021, to January 9, 2022, 5:30 to 9 pm

Cost: $40 per car

Dog rules: Bingemans Gift of is an entirely drive through experience, so dogs stay in the car with you. There are a few places elsewhere in the park for a quick leash-stroll but otherwise this is an in-car experience only.

Mount Brydges (London), Ontario

What: Magic of Lights drive-thru experience

Where: Longswood Road Conservation Area, 8348 Longswoods Road, Mount Brydges, Ontario

When: November 19, 2021, to January 2, 2022, Saturdays and Sundays, 5:30 – 10 pm

Cost: $23 to $31 plus service fee and tax per car. Advanced online purchase only.

Dog rules: Dogs welcome but like people must remain in cars at all times.

Niagara Falls, Ontario

What: Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights

Where: Throughout downtown Niagara Falls, Ontario

When: November 13, 2021, to February 21, 2022

Cost: Free

Dog rules: Because this light show meanders through the city along major streets near The Falls, leashed dogs can walk with you through the parks. But most of the light show is viewed through the car window, so clearly dogs can ride with you easily. There are places to stop the car briefly in Dufferin Park to walk a leashed pup and take photos.

Ottawa, Ontario

What: Magic of Lights drive-thru experience

Where: Wesley Clover Parks, 411 Corkstown Road, Ottawa, Ontario

When: November 19, 2021, to January 8, 2022, 5 – 10 pm

Cost: $25 plus service fee and tax per car. Advanced online purchase only.

Dog rules: Dogs welcome but like people must remain in cars at all times.

Ottawa, Ontario

What: Christmas Lights Across Canada – multimedia light show on Parliament Hill

Where: Parliament Hill, Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario

When: December 8, 2021, to January 7, 2022, starting at dusk in 15-minute intervals

Cost: Free

Dog rules: Dogs-friendly outdoor event. Same rules apply as walking your dog along the street.

Owen Sound, Ontario

What: Owen Sound Festival of Northern Lights, 25 km of lights along Winter Wonderland Walking Path

Where: Harrison Park, 75 2nd Ave East, Owen Sound, Ontario

When: November 20, 2021, to January 2, 2022, 5 to 10 pm

Cost: free

Dog rules: Because this is an outdoor event in a public park, standard municipal rules regarding leashes and poop pick up apply.

Simcoe, Ontario

What: The Christmas Panorama of Lights

Where: Wellington Park, 50 Bonnie Drive, Simcoe, Ontario

When: December 4, 2021, to January 2, 2022

Cost: free

Dog rules: This light display is in a public park outdoors, so municipal rules regarding dogs apply – leashed dogs welcome and must be cleaned up after.

Stevensville (Niagara), Ontario

What: Drive-thru Safari Lights

Where: Safari Niagara, 2821 Stevensville Road, Ontario

When: November 20, 2021, to January 9, 2022, 5 to 10 pm.

Cost: $39.95 (plus service fee and taxes) per vehicle purchased online

Dog rules: dogs are welcome but must stay in cars at all times.

Stratford, Ontario

What: Four locations of lights: Sky Castle in Market Square, Shakespearean Garden of a Thousand Lights, Stars on Tom Patterson Island, and Stratford Avon Theatre.

Where: Four locations throughout downtown Stratford, Ontario

When: December 17, 2021, to January 28, 2022

Cost: Free

Dog rules: Everything is outside and it’s a long walk for you and the pup to each location. Municipal leash rules apply.

Toronto, Ontario

What: Drive-thru Holiday Lights at Ontario Place – a 1.7km drive past magical winter light installations set to a soundtrack on 89.9 FM radio station.

Where: Ontario Place, Lakeshore Road, Toronto

When November 12, 2021, to January 16, 2022, 5 to 9 pm weekdays and 5 to 11 pm weekends.

Cost: $45 to $65 per car. Tickets pre-purchased online only.

Dog rules: Dogs welcome in your own cars but both dogs and people must remain in cars.

Windsor, Ontario

What: Bright Lights Windsor, outdoor light show and weekend market

Where: Jackson Park, 125 Tecumseh Road E., Windsor, Ontario

When: December 2, 2021, to January 9, 2022, 5 to 10 pm

Cost: free

Dog rules: Because this is an outdoor event in a public park, standard municipal rules regarding leashes and poop pick up apply. However, the organizers suggest people exercise caution with dogs that are not comfortable with crowds of people.

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