Ice skating in Simcoe Park, coffee at Balzac’s Café, dinner at the Prince of Wales Hotel.
While it reads as an ideal date itinerary for most, those are also scenes from a made-for-Netflix holiday movie filmed in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
“The Holiday Calendar” debuted on the popular streaming service Nov. 2. It tells the story of a photographer who inherits an antique holiday advent calendar with a special twist: Its contents seem to predict the future.
Kat Graham, best known for her role on “The Vampire Diaries,” stars as the photographer Abby, while Ron Cephas Jones from “This Is Us” plays her grandfather, simply known as Gramps. Quincy Brown appears as her childhood friend and Ethan Peck is a potential love interest.
Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce president Janice Thomson said she watched the movie over the weekend and enjoyed being able to see Niagara-on-the-Lake depicted on the small screen.
“It brought back a lot of memories about the details surrounding the filming,” she said, referring to the scenes shot in Niagara-on-the-Lake this past April. “Thinking back to all of those things that took hours of organization but only show for seconds on the screen. I’m sure people in the film industry are used to that, but it’s interesting to see.”
Produced by film company Hideaway Pictures, the movie features scenes along Queen Street, in the courthouse and several scenes at Balzac’s on King Street. Santa’s village was constructed on Market Street. Thomson recalls the film crew adding snow, lots of Christmas decorations and lights to make it appear as if Christmas was truly just around the corner.
Bill Auchterlonie, owner of the Indigenous art gallery Inuksuk On-the-Lake, rented out his Queen Street space to the production company as a filming location.
“There was a runner guy who came by and said they were interested in using my store,” he said, adding the timing — early April when tourism hasn’t quite picked up yet — was just right. “They were the best people to work with. I was nervous all the way up to and during filming, thinking ‘What if they mess things up?’ but they were really respectful and it all worked out.”
He said thanks to a cleanup crew that came in when filming was done, things were left cleaner than how they found it.
Auchterlonie has viewed the trailer multiple times and shared it on his social media networks.
“The trailer was quite well done, it’s pretty compelling,” he said.
This isn’t the first time Hideaway Pictures filmed in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Another Netflix holiday movie, released last year, was also filmed in town: “Christmas Inheritance.” Producer David Anselmo said he knew he’d be back to capture the beauty of Niagara-on-the-Lake when they were filming that movie at the Grand Victorian Bed and Breakfast on the Niagara Parkway.
“I was staying here in Old Town Niagara-on-the-Lake and enjoyed the beauty and the smalltown charm,” Anselmo said during a break from filming at Simcoe Park on April 2. “There’s such a quaint, picturesque main street here and I thought it would be great to film it for what it is.”
While the town wasn’t specifically mentioned in the film — it was meant to stand in for a small American town — Thomson said she’s hoping the charm of Niagara-on-the-Lake shines through to its audience and people, particularly those interested in film tourism, will come to see the town for themselves.
“It’s a very special place and I’m happy to have it on display,” she said.