There’s excitement in the air in downtown Orillia this holiday season.
As the air turns cooler and the first touches of snow begins to fall, it would be easy to lament the loss of the hot temperatures we had this summer and the brightness of autumn. But, the restaurateurs and shop owners of downtown Orillia are just not in that frame of mind. What they’re getting ready for, and are excited about, is the core’s full move into the holiday season.
With the Candlelight Parade having kicked off the downtown holiday changeover, streets are adorned with picturesque Christmas lighting and decorations, creating a whimsical, uniquely small-town ambiance to your shopping excursions. More than 30 restaurants and bars, and 150-plus shops, will each be getting into the spirit in their own way, but you can be sure their aim is to make your shopping and dining a memorable experience.
Orillia’s culinary scene has uniquely embraced the chillier season these past few years. Tammies Place, a long-standing resident favourite on Mississaga Street, achieves this with expertise. Try out one of their heated winter domes or ice crystals for a cozy yet immersive winter dining experience, these outdoor dining huts officially open on December 3rd, but reservations are open to book ahead now at (705) 325-8612.
Located in the downtown core, the historic Orillia Opera House has welcomed back the holiday season with open arms. Head over during an evening stroll to catch a glimpse of the decorated Opera House tree and take a gander at their exciting holiday lineup of shows. This year’s special treat brings Canadian Champion fiddling and step-dancing siblings The Fitzgeralds to centre stage on December 9 for a uniquely Canadian Christmas. Pull out your ugliest Christmas sweaters for this one, the Opera House’s lounge will be full of holiday cheer with limited seasonal drinks and locally made treats in celebration of the event. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased on their website at OrilliaOperaHouse.ca.
Want to spend some time exploring more of the city’s vibrant history? Orillia has a fascinating past that you may not read about in history books. You can, however, hear all about it while exploring with a free audio walking tour. You can access it by clicking the link or through the app store with Tripvia Tours.
Another innovative activity that kids and parents are going to love this Christmas season is the Discover Downtown Goosechase, a holiday scavenger hunt inviting you to support local and explore all the wonderful hidden gems of downtown Orillia’s small business scene. Players will get to sign up for free and compete in weekly missions throughout December for prizes ranging in value from $300 to $1000. You can read more about the scavenger hunt and how to sign up by visiting Orillia.ca/Goosechase.
Saturday mornings this season mean the Orillia Farmers’ Market is offering up homemade goodies (sweet and savoury) and handmade gifts from 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. To keep things warm and cozy, the vendors have moved inside the Orillia Public Library and the market is featuring some new and exciting products. For a special night out, stop by the market’s two late-night Christmas markets on Wednesdays December 14 and 21, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. to get those last-minute gifts crossed off your list.
The anticipated sprinkle of snow to mark the season, and free parking in the downtown municipal lots until January 3 are just the icing on the cake, and even more reason to experience Orillia’s small-town charm and a day or two of seasonal shopping, dining, and entertainment.
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