Toronto’s Casa Loma Castle at Christmas Time

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People are generally surprised to learn that there is an honest-to-goodness castle right in the heart of Toronto. It may have been constructed quite a bit more recently than those medieval castles in Europe but it is still pretty impressive and you don't need to fly across the pond to tour it. Toronto's Casa Loma is worthy of a visit year-round, but it is especially beautiful at Christmas time.

Casa Loma, Toronto

Toronto's Casa Loma

Casa Loma Castle history

Casa Loma was built on a hill overlooking the city of Toronto by businessman Sir Henry Pellatt as the realization of his lifelong dream to live in a medieval castle. Construction began in 1911 and it took 300 men nearly three years to complete, at a cost of approximately $3.5 million – a small fortune in the day. Sadly, Sir Henry enjoyed his castle for less than 10 years before financial misfortune forced him to abandon it. Casa Loma is now owned by the City of Toronto and it has become one of the city's top tourist attractions as well as a popular venue for private functions and as a film location for both the big screen and television.

Casa Loma's Conservatory

Story time in the Conservatory at Casa Loma

Touring Casa Loma Castle

Casa Loma welcomes more than 300,000 visitors each year who tour the castle at their leisure. Some of the castle's most impressive features are the Great Hall with its 60 foot ceilings, a library that would inspire envy in any bookworm, elegant bedroom suites, and my personal favorite room—the Conservatory. Visitors may also descend to the lower level and follow an 800-foot tunnel to the stables where Sir Henry kept his horses, or climb one of the towers for a panoramic view over the city. During the summer months the estate's spectacular grounds are ideal for a leisurely walk while admiring the lovely gardens, sculptures and fountains.

Lady Pellat's bedroom at Casa Loma

Lady Pellatt's bedroom at Casa Loma

Christmas time at Casa Loma Castle

The best time to visit Casa Loma Castle is at Christmas when the grand building is decked for the holidays. A 25-foot Christmas tree rises majestically in the Great Hall, public areas feature traditional decorations, there are special holiday activities and entertainment for guests, and Santa Claus greets young visitors and poses for photos. Other holiday traditions include carollers strolling through the castle, an elves' workshop for children to make Christmas crafts, and story time in the Conservatory.

Casa Loma Christmas tree

Casa Loma's Christmas tree

Mozart's Magical Castle

This year Casa Loma has also partnered with Opera Atelier to create Mozart's Magical Castle, based on the beloved opera The Magic Flute, during a month long holiday celebration. My husband and I visited on the first day of the installation along with our 9-year-old daughter who loves anything to do with castles and princesses. Emma had also learned about The Magic Flute at school so she was eager to experience the interactive activities.

There are a number of special activities at Casa Loma as part of Mozart's Magical Castle including a scavenger hunt, live performances and workshops with actors and dancers who will be in Opera Atelier's production, and characters from the story wandering the castle to chat with guests and pose for photos. My 9-year-old, Emma, thoroughly enjoyed meeting the young ladies in their gorgeous gowns but the highlight had to be meeting the dragon from Mozart's opera.

Casa Loma dragon from Mozart's opera

Meeting the dragon from Mozart's Magic Flute at Casa Loma

We always enjoy our Christmas time visits to Casa Loma but Mozart's Magical Castle was an especially big hit with my daughter this year. As a result, Emma has decided that she wants to attend the opera in the spring—if we can make it work, that will be a new experience for both of us. If you happen to be in Toronto during the holiday season then include a visit to Casa Loma while Mozart's Magical Castle is set up from December 1-30, 2012. If you aren't able to make it this Christmas then definitely keep Casa Loma in mind for your next visit to the city.

Have you visited Toronto's Casa Loma or any other North American castles? Let us know about your experience in the comments!

All photos by Lisa Goodmurphy.

About Lisa Goodmurphy, The Spunky Travel Mama

Lisa Goodmurphy is a lawyer turned family travel writer and a mom of two daughters. She grew up in small town Northern Ontario and now resides near Toronto, Canada. Badly bitten by the travel bug years ago, she considers herself fortunate that her family is equally enthusiastic about her mission to explore the world—one trip at a time. Lisa shares her travel adventures on the blog that she founded in 2011 and now contributes to many online media publications as well. You can read about her family’s travels on her blog, Gone with the Family, on Google+ or on Twitter as @GoneWithFamily.

Comments

  1. I can’t believe that I’ve never been to Casa Loma, after so many visits to Toronto over the years. Will have to plan a stop there next time.

  2. Our family drove to Toronto from the Detroit area in the late 60’s and visited the castle – probably one of Toronto’s most memorable buildings. I’m glad it is still being visited and enjoyed by tourists.

  3. How beautiful! I missed Casa Loma during the holidays this year, but I’ll definitely have to visit next year. My kids would love the dragon too.

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