Do you exchange Christmas gifts with your family, friends and/or significant other? I used to buy a lot more gifts this time of year, exchanging with my parents, Tania, friends, extended family and even coworkers. These days, I only exchange physical presents with my parents and grandmother, and believe me when I tell you I’m thrilled for it! I used to get so stressed finding the perfect present for everyone in my life, until I realized that all the time I was spending shopping could have been used to spend time with those people – and isn’t that what everyone really wants at the end of the day? Tania and I realized this a few years ago and she came up with a great idea: instead of buying material gifts for each other, we would each plan a ‘date day’ for the other, and treat them to a fun experience and a nice meal. For example, last year I took Tania for brunch and to the spa, and she took me for dinner and to see a live show. It’s honestly such a great solution to the Christmas gift dilemma: each person gets an experience to remember, we both enjoy spending the time together, and it’s something we really look forward to every year. This past weekend, for my ‘date day’, Tania took me to experience Christmas at Pingle’s Farm!
Located in Clarington, Pingle’s is a fun farm that offers various seasonal events and experiences throughout the year, from Easter egg hunts in the spring to sunflower fields in the summer to PYO apples and pumpkins in the fall. They also have a year-round farm market selling local produce, meat and baked goods. Pingle’s has become a popular tourist destination and they really go all out with their seasonal festivals, so we were so excited to experience this year’s Christmas Fest!
Admission to Christmas Fest is $22, and tickets can be booked in advance online or purchased onsite (though advance booking is recommended to guarantee availability.) Once you enter the farm, you’ll be greeted by a friendly ‘toy soldier’ and given a wristband for re-entry, along with a map of the event.
Some of the attractions are geared especially towards families with young children, such as the make-your-own-ornament craft station, photos with Santa and the Polar Express wagon ride. (Funny story – we hopped aboard the wagon thinking it’d be more a tour of the farm, but it turned out we were the only ones on it without kids, and the wagon ride was a story time experience TOTALLY geared towards kids – so we felt a little silly, but enjoyed the ride nonetheless!) Then there are other attractions, such as the markets and outdoor bar, that are definitely more geared towards adults. Finally, there are lots of activities, from cookie decorating stations to farm animal encounters, that are fun for visitors of all ages – both kids and kids at heart (like myself)! There’s truly something for everyone to enjoy at Pingle’s Christmas Fest, so I’ll share some of my favourite activities with you.
Cookie Decorating with Mrs. Claus: This is one of those activities that is clearly meant for kids, but that’s equally fun for kids at heart! It’s an indoor activity, so if you’re feeling chilly (and hungry) this is the perfect place to be. Once you enter, you’ll get a sugar cookie that you can decorate to your liking with icing and sprinkles at the cookie decorating station. (The photos prove that cookie decorating is clearly not our forte… I think most of the kids there had nicer-looking cookies than us!) Once you’re done decorating and eating your cookies, you can take a photo with Mrs. Claus herself – I couldn’t resist getting in line! I told her I knew I was a little old, but she told me nobody was too old to believe in the magic of Christmas, which I fully stand by. (I also spotted many other adults taking their own photos with Mrs. Claus, so hey… at least I wasn’t the only one!)
Farm Animals: Animal lovers will enjoy meeting the goats and “off-duty reindeer” (i.e. donkeys and alpacas) at Pingle’s. There’s also an indoor enclosure where you can see chickens, ducks and bunnies – the bunnies were so cute!
Food & Drink: If you find yourself in need of refreshments, Pingle’s has several options. You can satisfy your comfort food cravings with pizza or poutine from the food trucks, or head inside to Rudolph’s Pancake Kitchen and chow down on some reindeer-shaped pancakes. Pingle’s Coffee Shack serves a variety of hot beverages, from coffee and tea to cider and hot chocolate. While they serve plain versions of all these beverages, I recommend taking it up a notch by ordering one of their over-the-top, Instagram-worthy beverage creations. Tania ordered a regular hot chocolate, but I had to be extra and get the Peppermint Mocha: a mix of hot chocolate, coffee and peppermint syrup, served in a sprinkle-rimmed cup and topped with whipped cream, crushed candy canes, white chocolate drizzle and a chocolate donut. This was the most impressive-looking creation I’ve ever seen, and it tasted delicious too. It’s more a dessert than a drink – I was so full afterwards! If you want something with a little more ‘kick’, you can head to Pingle’s outdoor bar to enjoy a boozy hot toddy, which you can enjoy in a Muskoka chair by the campfire.
Photo Ops: If you want to take some cute Instagram photos (because let’s face it, who doesn’t these days?) then Pingle’s has got you covered! From the adorable “kissing booth” bench that makes a sweet couple’s selfie to the vibrant red sleigh that would pair perfectly with your “sleigh all day” caption, there are lots of cute installations around the farm that make for fun photo opportunities.
Mistletoe Market: This is where you can stock up on locally made gifts, food and décor. From decadent butter tarts and peppermint fudge to gorgeous Christmas wreaths, boughs and signs, you’ll find the perfect present here – whether you’re shopping for others or yourself! Plus, you can feel good about buying small batch products from independent local makers.
Trees: Just outside the Mistletoe Market, you can purchase a pre-cut Christmas tree. We already have an (artificial) tree, but if we were in the market for a real one, we’d definitely head to Pingle’s – their selection is beautiful.
Farm Store: The Pingle’s farm store is open year round, and it’s where you can buy fresh local produce, meats, cheeses, pickles and preserves, made-from-scratch baked goods and more. They also have a honey station where you can bottle your own honey to take home, which I think is such a fun idea. Tania stopped into the store before we left to pick up a spinach-feta pastry to go, and it was delicious (of course I had to have a bite!) Both the Pingle’s Farm Store and Mistletoe Market are open to the public – you don’t need to pay the $22 Christmas Fest admission to enter.
We just made it to Pingle’s for the last weekend of Christmas Fest, and the event is now closed for the season. However, the farm store remains open year round (but will be closed Dec 25-Jan 11 for the holidays, reopening on January 12, 2023.)
We had such a fun time at Pingle’s Christmas Fest, and I look forward to returning to the farm for some of their winter 2023 happenings, like their snowshoeing and Chef in the Bush events. In the meantime, I’m taking a little blogging break to relax and enjoy Christmas with my loved ones. I wish you all a wonderful holiday filled with love, joy and happiness. And thank you so much for following along with my blog! Around this time of year, I always like to pause and reflect on the past year and everything that I’m thankful for. When I started this blog in the summer, I had no idea what I was doing and if anyone would even read it. It’s since become such a fun creative outlet for me and I’m so glad I decided to take the leap and start writing it. If you’re still here and reading, thank you SO much. It means so much to me that people are interested in what I have to share.
Have a very merry Christmas and I’ll see you all in the new year!
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