You may not believe this after reading all my blog posts about winter walks, outdoor Christmas markets and treks to frozen waterfalls, but I used to absolutely loathe winter. I remember my grandma always talking about how she loved living in Canada because she enjoyed experiencing all the seasons. When I was younger, I never understood it. I’d always dreamed of living in a place like California, where the weather was sunny and warm all the time. But as I got older, I started to understand exactly what she meant. There’s something so special about the newness of spring, the hot days of summer, the crisp air and vibrant colours of autumn, and yes, even winter’s frosty beauty. Over the years, I realized that changing the way I experienced winter lied in changing my attitude. If I spent all my time grumbling about the sub-zero temps, dark skies and piles of snow to shovel, then of course I was going to be miserable! But if I took a moment to appreciate the serene beauty of a fresh snowfall, the invigorating feel of a brisk winter walk, or the childlike joy in an afternoon spent sledding (it’s not just for kids!) then I would be happier overall. As I get older, I realize that so many aspects of life can be improved simply by changing your attitude!
As much as I try to stay positive and appreciate all the seasons, I’m not going to lie and say I love winter all the time because let’s face it; winter can be really tough! The cold and snowy weather, combined with later sunrises and earlier sunsets, makes it tempting to stay home and hibernate instead of going out and finding fun things to do. One of my biggest pet peeves is that all of the fun winter events tend to be packed into December, because of course they are: it’s Christmastime and everyone wants to participate in festivities. But once the new year begins, it seems like so many of the exciting events have ended and there’s nothing to do until the springtime. That’s why I have a special appreciation for places that continue to host festive events throughout the season, keeping the holiday magic going long after Christmas is over! One of those places happens to be Mountsberg Conservation Area.
Located in Campbellville, Mountsberg Conservation Area is a park operated by Conservation Halton. They’re open all year round and offer several fun activities for outdoor enthusiasts: hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, boating, birding and more. They’re well-known for their Raptor Centre, a facility dedicated to caring for injured birds of prey. Mountsberg is also known for their calendar of fun seasonal events, from Maple Town in the spring to the Halloween Spooktacular in the fall to Christmas Town in December. But one of their most popular events is Winterlit, which Tania and I recently had the joy of experiencing!
Running from December 28 through February 20, Winterlit is an immersive outdoor experience offered Thursdays through Sundays. Visitors can take a magical evening stroll through beautifully lit trails, view a variety of inspiring art installations, enjoy hot chocolate and cookies by a crackling bonfire, listen to music by talented local artists, and even pick up a hand-forged wood ornament to take home. We visited Winterlit last Saturday evening and had such an amazing time that I wanted to share some highlights of the experience with you all.
When we first arrived at the Mountsberg parking lot, one of the park staffers gave us a map of the event. There are two trails for visitors to enjoy, one on either side of the parking lot. We decided to start with the Sugarbush Trail. This peaceful trail takes you on an illuminated path into the Mountsberg sugar bush, which is where they tap trees for maple syrup in the spring. This trail led us to the sweetest winter village that was like something out of a fairy tale.
We stopped into The Book Nook, a cozy little cabin where visitors are encouraged to take a book and leave one behind. There was also a games table set up where some people had been playing Scrabble.
The Fireside Lounge is where you can enjoy free cups of hot cocoa and freshly baked sugar cookies around the fire! We weren’t expecting this complimentary treat, so it was a nice surprise.
As you head back to the parking lot from the Sugarbush Trail, you’ll find Cameron Courtyard, where you can purchase grilled cheese sandwiches, mac and cheese, poutine and other comfort food favourites to enjoy. We were stuffed from a homemade dinner of fried chicken and biscuits, so we didn’t partake, but everything looked delicious! There were picnic tables set up for people to sit and enjoy their food, but because it was a cold and snowy evening, most people opted to eat on the go!
We then proceeded to the second trail, The Winterlit Trail. This was our favourite of the two trails, as it was filled with a series of beautiful and creative art installations. I loved the cheerful signs spreading messages of peace, love, hope and joy.
Wooden cutouts of wolves, deer and nature scenes adorned the paths, which were strung with lanterns and fairy lights.
My favourite part of this trail was Sparkle Alley, where visitors walk through a tunnel of trees decorated with glittering handcrafted ornaments.
As you exit the Winterlit Trail, you’ll reach another fireside lounge. At one of the firepits, they were doing a live demonstration of wood branding, which was so cool to see! Each family was allowed to take home a free wooden ornament of their choice: we chose this ‘Joy’ ornament, which currently sits proudly on our entry table and will hang on our Christmas tree next year.
We had such an amazing time at Winterlit and are highly recommending the experience to all our friends. Tania said that “out of all the cool things we’ve done this winter, this is the coolest” – and we do a lot of cool things, so one shouldn’t take that accolade lightly! There are still two more weekends left to check out Winterlit – it runs until February 20 – so be sure to book your tickets now if you’re interested in attending. If you’re able to attend this coming weekend (Feb 11-12) you’re in luck, because Winterlit is hosting a special Enchanted Evenings event! On top of its regular offerings, there will be live music, a licensed ice bar, strolling fire and ice performers, a marketplace with local food and craft vendors, and more!
I’m looking forward to returning to Mountsberg in the springtime for their Maple Town event. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed this review of Winterlit, and I encourage you to go check it out while you can – I’m sure you’ll have just as much fun as we did!
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