12 Christmassy Things to Do in Toronto

Christmas Lights | Courtesy of Toronto Christmas Market
Christmas Lights | Courtesy of Toronto Christmas Market
Photo of Sahar Aman
Staff Writer3 November 2017

Toronto has so many wonderful Christmas traditions to get you in the festive spirit. Even though it’s getting cold outside, nothing beats the feeling of sipping a hot drink beneath glittering lights and decorations during the holiday season. So mark your calendars and bundle up: it’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Toronto Christmas Market

Market, Canadian, Pub Grub
Map View
Lights strung over Trinity Street historic Distillery District for the Toronto Christmas Market
The Toronto Christmas Market is a must-visit during the holiday season | © Gaertner / Alamy Stock Photo
Thursday, November 16–Saturday, December 23 A picturesque festive day out complete with mulled wine, hot apple cider, outdoor fire pits, and cute little wooden shops selling treats and delights. Every year Toronto’s historic Distillery District transforms itself into one of the city’s best holiday experiences. The Toronto Christmas Market is great for a date, family day out or with a group of friends. Scenic lighting and seasonal décor set the tone for a number of activities like Christmas carol performances, a visit to Santa, selfies next to illuminated signs, and festive drinks and eats.

Old-Fashioned Christmas

Saturday, November 18–Saturday, December 23

Black Creek Pioneer Village has a host of old-fashioned Christmas activities beginning in November. During the day their festive weekends offer historical activities such as horse-drawn wagon rides, an opportunity to explore Christmas traditions of the past, as well as holiday favourites like roasting chestnuts, trimming Christmas trees, and carol singing. That’s not all: young visitors will love Story Time With Santa, and they even do proper Christmas dinners on Sundays. At night, the village comes to life with music, food, and activities for Christmas By Lamplight.

Bloor-Yorkville Holiday Magic

Saturday, November 18–Sunday, December 31

Bloor-Yorkville has pretty lights all year round, but come November it transforms in to a festive wonderland! The official lighting ceremony for Bloor-Yorkville Holiday Magic is on November 18 from 5pm–6.30pm and will include a performance from one of Canada’s most recognized R&B/pop artists, Chanté. The enchanting light displays and storefront Christmas decorations will be up until the end of the year.

Yorkville, Toronto, ON, Canada

Christmas Lights | Courtesy of Bloor-Yorkville Holiday Magic

Christmas Lights | Courtesy of Bloor-Yorkville Holiday Magic

The Santa Claus Parade

Sunday, November 19

Kick off the holidays by cheering on the annual Toronto Santa Claus Parade. Find a spot anywhere along the six-kilometre route and celebrate Toronto’s 100-year-old Christmas tradition. This is a great family event. The parade begins at Bloor and Christie and makes its way downtown. For those who want to watch the whole parade, it usually lasts a couple of hours, so dress warm.

The Santa Claus Parade | Courtesy of Tourism Toronto | © Tourism Toronto

One of a Kind Christmas Show

Thursday, November 23–Sunday, December 3

Over the course of 11 days, 800 artisans gather at Enercare Centre’s Exhibition Place for this event to showcase and sell their handmade crafts. If you struggle to find unique Christmas presents, then this is probably the best place to do a spot of shopping and pick up some wonderful gifts for loved ones or yourself. No matter what you are into, there’s something for everyone to discover at the One of a Kind Christmas Show and even the chance to meet some of the creators behind the handcrafted goods.

Enercare Centre, 100 Princes’ Blvd #1, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 263 3000

Locally made Canadian Crafts | Courtesy of One of a Kind Show

Locally made Canadian Crafts | Courtesy of One of a Kind Show

Swedish Christmas Fair

Saturday, November 25–Sunday, November 26

The Lakeside Terrace at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre will be turned into a two-day Swedish holiday extravaganza. You can sample Scandinavian foods, warm up with some festive glögg, listen to children singing carols at the Lucia Pageant or join in the folk dancing and craft making. The Swedish Christmas Fair is also a great place to pick up some presents, there will be plenty of unique crafts, Christmas décor, textiles, and Swedish delicacies.

Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 973 4000

The Nutcracker

Saturday, December 9–Saturday, December 30

An iconic ballet, The Nutcracker is a Christmas classic and has been performed by the National Ballet of Canada since 1995. Every year the stage at Four Seasons Centre is transformed into the magical ice-encrusted world of the Snow Queen and the glittering golden palace of the Sugar Plum Fairy. If you are making it a family day out, take the kids along 45 minutes before to the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre for Nutcracker Story Time. This is an interactive telling of The Nutcracker which gives younger audiences an understanding of the story before the performance.

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 363 6671

Christmas window shopping

For some glamorous Christmas magic, check out the festive windows at some of Toronto’s department stores. Hudson’s Bay, Saks Fifth Avenue, William Ashley China, and Holt Renfrew are renowned in the city for their holiday displays. While you’re in the neighbourhood doing seasonal window shopping, there’ll be plenty of places to do Christmas shopping as well.

Ice skating

The best thing about freezing cold temperatures in Canada? Spending a few hours ice skating and warming up with some hot chocolate afterwards. Even though both of these locations get really crowded, they are the best for atmosphere. The famous rink at Nathan Phillips Square puts you in the heart of the city right next to the Fair in The Square, while Harbourfront Centre offers unique skating experiences with their DJ skate nights.

Iceskating at Nathan Phillips Square | © Benson Kua/Flickr | © Benson Kua / Flickr

Christmas at Casa Loma

Built by Sir Henry Pellatt over a four-year period from 1911–1914, Casa Loma’s battlements, secret passageways, gardens and rooms are stunning under any circumstances. During the holiday season, their Christmas displays and décor somehow make the castle more enchanting, majestic and always worth the visit. They often have special festive programming throughout December.

Casa Loma, 1 Austin Terrace, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 923 1171

Christmas Decorations | Courtesy of Casa Loma

Christmas Decorations | Courtesy of Casa Loma

Winter Village

Evergreen’s special programming on open weekends in December will help you embrace the great outdoors and get into the holiday spirit. You can shop, eat, drink and be merry in their Winter Village. Visitors can also enjoy ball hockey, fat biking and games, cozy campfires, and tasty food truck dishes. On Saturdays check out the Evergreen Brick Works’ award-winning Farmers’ Market, while Sundays is the day to pick up some gifts from the Holiday Etsy Market, featuring 20-plus artisans showcasing made-in-Ontario arts, crafts, and gifts.

Evergreen Brick Works, Suite 300 550 Bayview Ave Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 596 1495

Festive Apple Cider | Courtesy of Evergreen Brick Works

Festive Apple Cider | Courtesy of Evergreen Brick Works

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