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Orillia’s downtown is ready to celebrate the season's festive spirit

Free parking, Christmas markets, 'special' Friday night events, online baking with Santa and much more on the Christmas menu in downtown Orillia
2018-11-21 downtown orillia winter
Downtown Orillia is beautiful - even in winter. There is lots happening in the downtown on Black Friday and throughout the festive season. Deb Halbot File Photo

As the air turns cooler and fallen leaves swirl around our feet, 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 move into the holiday season.

Soon, the charming streetscape will transform with Christmas lighting and decorations. 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 indoor dining special.

Want to spend some time seeking out historical points of interest? Orillia has a fascinating history that you may not read about in history books. You can, however, hear all about it with a free audio walking tour. You can access it by clicking the link or through the app store with Tripvia.

Another innovative activity that kids and parents are going to love this Christmas season is baking cookies with Santa – in a unique way - on Dec. 3, 10 and 17 at 6:30 p.m.

“Join Santa live online from Mrs. Claus’s kitchen to listen to stories and bake cookies together,” says Lisa Thomson-Roop, manager of the Orillia Downtown Management Board. “The recipe will be provided beforehand so you can bake along with your family.” Visit to get more details.

Of course, the popular Black Friday event will be back on Nov. 27 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. where you can get $50 worth of Downtown Dollars at half price, and enjoy exceptional specials throughout downtown. This year, there will be a booking system in place to pick up your downtown dollars so remember to plan in advance.

Friday nights in Orillia have always been special, where the fresh night air and welcoming energy combine to make getting together in the core feel like a special occasion. Every Friday night in December presents an extra opportunity to enjoy the season with shops open longer and restaurants anticipating your arrival.

And 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 cosy, the vendors have moved inside the Orillia Public Library and there are extra vendors for the season.

Alex Roth, market manager, encourages everyone to join in the magic of Christmas, sip hot chocolate and purchase some unique items that will surely get you in the spirit. They are even offering two special weekday markets featuring over 25 vendors on Wednesdays, Dec. 16 and Dec. 23, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., for last-minute shopping. For more information on what they will be showcasing this season, visit them on their Facebook page.

The anticipated sprinkle of snow to mark the season, and free, three-hour parking in the downtown municipal lots until Jan. 1 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 and dining.

Remember to bring your face mask!