Christmas alive with light displays

It’s getting easier to find the top light displays almost anywhere. Simply do an internet search for Christmas lights and the name of a community and chances are that you’ll find a few pleasant surprises.

A useful resource in Saskatchewan is www.sparkletour.ca, which includes maps of 15 communities and addresses and descriptions of Christmas displays marked.

Sometimes the elaborate exhibits at individual homes and yards rival that of major festivals. In Brandon, you can check out photos of Christmas lights online at www.ebrandon.ca/xmaslights.aspx before deciding which ones to drive by.

The website offers a map and photos with addresses marked that have significant light displays.

Now in its 18th year, the Enchanted Forest is a dazzling drive-through light display in Saskatoon’s Forestry Farm Park.

There’s familiar holiday themes like the Nativity, Santa’s workshop and scenes from the 12 Days of Christmas, along with other surprises from a moving display on curling to a large Noah’s Ark. The Nutcracker Ballet is a new addition.

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Admission is charged, with proceeds going to the Saskatoon City Hospital Foundation and the Saskatoon Zoo Foundation. The event runs until Jan. 7, including Christmas day, with trolley tours available on Wednesdays and Sundays until Jan. 4 and a Light Walk on Jan. 8.

The Normanview neighbourhood in Regina hosts the Candy Cane Lane Holiday Light Festival. More than 380 decorated homes participate, plus a main site featuring the North Pole Village and Winter Wonderland displays.

A small admission is charged to the main site, with proceeds going to local charities. The festival runs until Dec. 24, but many homes continue to have displays after that.

The Edmonton neighbourhood of Crestwood also has a display called Candy Cane Lane, a tradition that has been going on for more than 40 years. Houses on more than 10 city blocks participate.

Walking is the best way to see the displays, with visitors asked to bring a donation for the food bank.

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While in Edmonton, also check out the light displays on the grounds of the Alberta Legislature that feature a 60-foot spruce tree with more than 5,000 lights.

Just south of Calgary, Christmas at Spruce Meadows runs every evening until Jan. 8. The grounds of the famous equestrian centre are the site of a two kilometre drive through an elaborate display using one-quarter of a million lights.

At the Calgary Zoo, the critters are taking a break until Jan. 8 for the Zoolights celebration. More than 1.5 million lights are used, including choreographed displays.

Several winter activities round out the event, including ice skating with free skate rentals and hot chocolate around the fire pit.

A big Winnipeg tradition is the Canad Inns Winter Wonderland at Red River Exhibition Park. The 2.5 kilometre drive takes you past 26 themed areas using more than a million lights.

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There’s also an outdoor skating rink and free horse-drawn sleigh rides on weekends until Jan. 7.