Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Festive Season in Stratford, Ontario

stratford ontario holiday season
We love the festive season because it is not only a time for families and friends to gather in celebration of the end of a year, but also a time to admire the coziness, beauty, and magical time of winter. Just in time for the holiday season, we spent a weekend at The River Merchant Inn located in Stratford, Ontario to enjoy the Holiday Light displays, Outdoor Christmas Market, Santa’s Parade of Lights, and to go on the Christmas and Chocolate Trails.
stratford ontario holiday season
Christmas and Chocolate Trail
We have had the pleasure of doing the Stratford’s Chocolate Trail one summer and loved it because we got to walk around with a purpose and go to a variety of different stores and businesses around Stratford, Shakespeare, and St. Marys. Stratford's Chocolate Trail can be done all year round.
stratford ontario holiday season
The Christmas Trail similar to the Chocolate Trail happens between Nov. 1st to Dec. 20th. In the spirit of the holiday season, the participating establishments give festive items in exchange for the vouchers. These trail vouchers cost $30 (+HST) for six vouchers which can be used at any six businesses out of the twenty five different choices. The vouchers can be purchased at 47 Downie Street, The British Touch in Shakespeare or at Village Craft and Candle in St. Marys or online
stratford ontario holiday season
Some of the goodies that we can get using these vouchers are shortbread, candles, leather bookmark, phone cord clip, tea, lotions, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chocolate Santa, reusable zippered shopping bag, brownie, coffee, and more. This is a great way to find out about the unique products and services that Stratford has to offer.  
stratford ontario holiday season
Holiday Lights
We went to see the 90 beautiful holiday light displays at Milt Dunnell Field in St. Marys. This free display of lights starting at dusk will be happening from November 16th to January 6th. This tour can be done while staying cozy in the car as we go around the loop or by foot to get up close to admire and take pictures of the lights.
stratford ontario holiday season
We had a fun filled festive day at the 5th Annual Outdoor Christmas Market in Stratford. There were dozens of craft and food vendors, blacksmith demos, carolers, a carousel, fire pits, free carriage rides, art displays, and more. 
stratford ontario holiday season
The evening was exciting, as we watched the Parade of Lights with more than 50 floats. The parade started from the William Allman Memorial Arena, travelling up Morenz Drive/ Nile Street to Ontario Street, then went along Downie Street and ended at City Hall. It was nice to see a display of creative floats from local businesses and services, where they also gave out candy to children. It was fun for us to be part of this friendly atmosphere, as the town gathered to cheer the floats.   
stratford ontario holiday season
Other things to do
While at Stratford don't forget to check out the Stratford Perth Museum, Avon Trail hike, and Gallery Stratford. Since 1967 Gallery Stratford has been one of Ontario's longest operating public art galleries. The contemporary visual art with a focus on regional and Canadian art strives to engage the public, create dialogue, and give unique opportunities for interactive learning. The admission is free to this gallery located in the city's historic former pump house.
stratford ontario holiday season
This image is a copyright of Castle Kilbride
Before we went to Stratford, we stopped by Castle Kilbride in Baden, Ontario which is decorated for the holidays (November 19th to January 5th). It was interesting to see how Christmas would have been celebrated in this Wilmot Township's national historic site. The grand Victorian mansion from the late 18th century was filled with the warmth and charm of the holidays. 
stratford ontario holiday season
This image is a copyright of Castle Kilbride
The tables were set with a variety of food that would have been prepared for the holidays, a variety of different Christmas trees were decorated, and we can see the German, Scottish and Victorian influences in the décor. There is a handout for children to make the self-guided tour more interesting. 
Fun fact: It was a tradition for the parents to hide a Christmas pickle ornament amongst the Christmas tree branches, and the first child to find it would receive an extra gift.
stratford ontario holiday season
This image is a copyright of Castle Kilbride
We found the information about Silver in their museum very interesting. The Herner's Victorian miniature village display in the Belvedere Gallery has over 130 Christmas themed buildings and figurines inspired by real life locations from the stories of Charles Dickens. This cool miniature village will be on display until January 5th.
stratford ontario holiday season
Where to stay
While doing all these fun activities, we stayed at the River Merchant Inn, Mitchell's Mercantile Suite. The private suite is conveniently located in downtown Stratford making it easy to explore the different attractions and events. This fully renovated suite is in a heritage building that used to be a mercantile shop from 1860 to 1950.
mercantile inn stratford ontario
Full kitchen and space with vintage games.
When we entered the suite, we loved the "wow factor" of the layout and modern industrial décor. This two bedroom condominium style suite has a full washroom with a deep soaker bath tub, laundry area, a fully equipped kitchen with large and small appliances and everything we need including cookware, spices, coffee and tea, and a bedroom with a king bed and the other with a queen bed, and a pull-out sofa bed in the common space. We love that the suite is filled with light from the 8 foot tall windows and 2 skylights, one in the kitchen and the other in the second bedroom. 
mercantile inn stratford ontario
Living room or common space with pull-out sofa bed, gas fireplace, and television facing Downtown Stratford.
mercantile inn stratford ontario
mercantile inn stratford ontario
Laundry room with ironing board and cleaning supplies.
mercantile inn stratford ontario
Bathroom with lovely décor and details.
mercantile inn stratford ontario
Bedroom with queen bed and skylight.
mercantile inn stratford ontario
Bedroom facing the Avon River with king bed and half bath.
mercantile inn stratford ontario
The suite has a gas fireplace, vintage games, and sitting areas to have fun cozy family game nights. There are three flat screen LED HDTVs with Netflix, fast WIFI, and comfortable unique furniture in this spacious suite. The Illume spa is right downstairs. This is a perfect place to stay for couples and families with teens (children over 12 years). The stay can be booked through this Airbnb link
Restaurants
Among the many restaurants with different cuisines, we checked out a couple of vegan and vegetarian friendly restaurants. The Grounded Vegan Café is purely plant based. We tried four different dishes from their menu; Rustic Reuben, O Burger, Sweet Potato Burrito, and Smokey Mac N' Cheese. Each of the colourful dishes had a different taste and flavour, and made for a filling and satisfying meal. 
mercantile inn stratford ontario
At Planet Diner, we tried their nachos and burger. We enjoyed the flavours, and felt their meatless dishes imitate meat very closely. There is a wide variety of meal choices to enjoy at the restaurant or to take out. 
mercantile inn stratford ontario
With fun and unique trails, special events, and charming places like the one we stayed at, Stratford would make a memorable getaway for families and couples during the holiday season!

Disclosure: This post is in partnership with Stratford Tourism. Please note that all opinions and thoughts expressed are my own. All rights reserved on photographs and written content Createwithmom © 2010 - 2019. Please Ask First

38 comments:

  1. I haven't been to Stratford in the winter but it looks a great place to visit to get into the holiday spirit!

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  2. The 90 beautiful holiday light displays at Milt Dunnell Field in St. Marys would sure be nice to experience.

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  3. I would love to visit there are so many interesting things to do

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  4. I miss stratford! i have been there in over 4 years. we used to live in st marys so we would drive to stratford all the time. such a beautiful town

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  5. Wow, what an amazing place!

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  6. My sister used to live in Stratford so used to visit regularly. But haven't been there in ages since she moved away. Looks like an awesome place to visit this time of year!

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  7. never been to sratford but i would love to go some day looks amazing

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  8. The accommodations look very comfortable for a family. It would be nice to stay right there so you could enjoy all they have to offer.

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  9. I had no idea Stratford was so festive for the holidays. It looks beautiful.

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  10. I have never thought to go to Stratford at this time of year, but it looks like a great place to visit

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  11. I love the idea of The Christmas Trail, hubby and I will have to arrange a trip over to Stratford!

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  12. This looks like a nice place to visit The lights are amazing

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  13. I have been to Stratford in summertime but never during the holiday season. I didn't realize that it has so many beautiful things to do and see in offseason!

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  14. This would be such a lovely getaway for the family.

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  15. Stratford looks like a great place to visit for the Holidays. So festive!

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  16. I love watching parades and think a parade of lights at night would make the parade extra exciting.

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  17. I am adding this to my bucket list.

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  18. Hadn't heard of Castle Kilbride before. Will have to check it out next time I visit a niece in Baden.

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  19. The Christmas and Chocolate Trail look like a fun event to take part in.

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  20. I would love to watch the Parade of Lights

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  21. The parade would have been so much fun to see.

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  22. I would love to visit the Christmas and Chocolate Trails.

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  23. never been there but looks like so much fun

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  24. The suite at the River Merchant Inn was beautiful. I like how centrally located and convenient it is.

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  25. The Christmas Trail would be fun to walk and you could do some holiday shopping at the same time.

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  26. The outdoor Christmas market sounds very cool!

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  27. Never been to Stratford but heard wonderful things from family and friends.

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  28. I would love to visit the Annual Outdoor Christmas Market

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  29. A beautiful light display and the outdoor Christmas market sounds wonderful.

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  30. the photos of the food looks so good

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  31. I have never been to Statford,what a beautiful place!

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  32. I would love to visit Statford and go to the Chocolate Trail

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  33. Would love to visit Stratford, haven't been there in years.

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  34. I would love to see all of the beautiful floats

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  35. I would like to try the meatless dishes at the Planet Diner

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  36. Wow, the Festive Season at Stratford looks amazing! We've been there in the summertime, after seeing your review & pics, I've put it on my list of places to visit, thx!

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  37. Would like to see Herner's Victorian Village.

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Thank you for commenting :)