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  • Writer's pictureAlison Golding

Experience the Magic of First Light at Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons in Midland, Ontario

Every winter, as the days grow shorter and the air grows crisper, a magical event transforms the historic grounds of Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons in Midland, Ontario. Known as "First Light," this enchanting celebration offers a unique blend of history, culture, and festive cheer, drawing visitors from near and far to experience the wonder of a truly special evening. 

Sainte-Marie among the Hurons is a reconstructed 17th-century French Jesuit mission, originally established in 1639. This national historic site serves as a testament to the early interactions between the French missionaries and the Wendat (Huron) people. The site offers a glimpse into the past with its authentic buildings, artifacts, and interpretive displays, making it a significant cultural landmark in Ontario.

The First Light event, held annually in late November and early December, illuminates the historic site with over 5,000 candles, creating a breathtakingly beautiful and serene atmosphere. The soft glow of candlelight transforms Sainte-Marie among the Hurons into a winter wonderland, perfect for celebrating the holiday season.

What to Expect

1. Candlelit Pathways: The entire site is adorned with thousands of candles, lighting up pathways and highlighting the historical structures. Walking through these candlelit paths is a mesmerizing experience, offering visitors a unique way to explore the historic site.

2. Live Music and Entertainment: The First Light festival features an array of live musical performances, from traditional Indigenous drumming and singing to contemporary holiday music. These performances add to the festive spirit and provide a deeper cultural connection to the event.

3. Artisan Market: Local artisans and craftspeople set up stalls offering handmade goods, perfect for holiday shopping. From unique jewelry and artwork to delicious local treats, the market is a great place to find one-of-a-kind gifts.

4. Historical Demonstrations: Experience history come to life with demonstrations of traditional crafts and skills from the 17th century. Watch blacksmiths, woodworkers, and other artisans showcase their talents, providing a fascinating glimpse into the daily life of the early settlers and the Wendat people.

5. Warm Up with Festive Food and Drink: Enjoy seasonal treats such as hot apple cider, and freshly baked goods. These warm refreshments are perfect for keeping the chill at bay as you explore the grounds.

First Light provides a distinctive way to celebrate the holiday season, combining historical education with festive fun. The ambiance created by thousands of candles is truly magical and unlike any other holiday event.

First Light at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons typically runs over several evenings in late November and early December. It is a popular event, so purchasing tickets in advance is recommended. Dress warmly, as much of the event is outdoors, and prepare to be enchanted by the glow of thousands of candles lighting up a piece of Ontario's history.

Attending the First Light festival at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons is more than just a holiday outing; it's a journey back in time to experience the wonder and beauty of a bygone era. The combination of history, culture, and festive cheer makes it a must-visit event for anyone looking to add a touch of magic to their holiday season. So gather your family and friends, and immerse yourself in the warmth and light of this extraordinary celebration.

Additionally, for more suggestions for holiday activities in Simcoe County, be sure to visit this post

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