Modern and multicultural, Toronto is North America’s fourth-largest city. Come the holiday season the city doesn’t sleep, and there is plenty to see, do, taste and buy! Here are some of the best experiences for your trip to Toronto this holiday season.
Explore the variety of Holiday Markets
When it comes to Holiday Markets in Toronto you are spoilt for choice!
Toronto Christmas Market at the historic Distillery District is an obvious choice if you’re looking for a magical and romantic experience to really get you into the holiday mood. Open from November 15 to December 23, the market features European-style cabins selling unique handcrafted products, festive foods and warm beverages. It does get busy so visit Tuesday – Thursday if you can.
Stroll along the artisan village, selling an array of items reflecting the cultural diversity and creativity of Toronto at the Holiday Fair in the Square from December 1st – 23rd. Held at the popular Nathan Phillips Square, it’s perfect for all the family with tasty treats, visits with Santa and even a carrousel.
Vegans, vegetarians and the veg-curious will be spoilt for choice at the Veg Holiday Market on November 25th. With over 40 local, plant-based and ethical vendors offering cruelty-free gifts and vegan holiday treats you won’t go hungry.
Also on November 25th is the Etsy Holiday Market. Perfect for picking up locally made and one of a kind pieces, either to treat yourself or your loved ones.
Winter Festivities at Ontario Place
For the second year in a row, Ontario Place will play host to a whole heap of winter fun from November 23, 2018 to March 17, 2019. Featuring a Winter Light Exhibition created by artists from across Ontario, over 100 trees wrapped in fairy lights and a series of DJ nights at the iconic waterfront venue.
Skate the night away while resident DJs spin tunes for visitors of all ages and warm up by the fire while sipping hot chocolate and toasting some marshmallows. Ontario Place is also home to the world’s first permanent IMAX theatre showing a variety of classics. After all that you’ll want to indulge in some Canadian winter fare, like a tasty sweet Beaver Tail.
For even more holiday fun, check out the Aurora Winter Festival on the East Island of Ontario Place. Here you’ll find captivating light displays, amusement rides, a tube park and even Santa himself.
Holidays at Casa Loma
Every year, North America’s only full sized castle, Casa Loma transforms into a winter wonderland. The Edwardian era castle features elaborately decorated rooms, secret passages, lush gardens and fabulous views of Toronto. This year’s holiday theme is A Nutcracker Christmas at the Castle and if previous years are anything to go by it will not disappoint. Expect spectacular outdoor light displays, performances, food and drink, as well as a holiday market. Daytime programming runs from December 1 to January 6 with evening events from December 17 – 23.
Explore Christmas Traditions at Black Creek Pioneer Village
Travel back in time at Toronto’s Black Creek Pioneer Village and experience the sights and sounds of a Victorian Christmas. This authentically recreated 1860’s Ontario country village features more than 40 restored homes, trade shops, public and farm buildings. The interpreters and artisans in period dress offer a truly submersive experience. Discover old traditions, sing along to carols, and taste traditional delights such as mincemeat tarts, apple cider and roasted chestnuts. Weekends only from November 17 – December 23.
12 Beers of Christmas at Gladstone Hotel
For unique accommodation during your stay in Toronto, visit the Gladstone Hotel, located in Toronto’s trendy West Queen West neighbourhood. A beautiful Victorian building, the Gladstone is Toronto’s oldest continually operated hotel, and each room features a unique design created by a local artist.
During the holiday season, throw on your Christmas jumper for the Gladstone’s 12 Beers of Christmas. Get a taste of Toronto’s strong brewing scene by sampling 12 local beers while enjoying live music and DJs. Tickets should be purchased in advance, as the event sells out every year.
Marvel at stunning holiday lights
The long nights of winter are perfect for enjoying the sparkling lights of the holiday season. Kick-off the season with the Cavalcade of Lights at Nathan Phillips Square. This holiday tradition includes the lighting of Toronto’s official Christmas Tree, a spectacular fireworks display and musical performances. Enjoy a skate on the square’s ice rink under the festively lit Freedom Arches and snap a selfie by the Toronto Sign.
Just a short walk from Nathan Phillips Square is the Eaton Centre, one of North America’s premier shopping centres. Not only is it home to over 250 stores, but over the holiday season you’ll also find Canada’s largest Christmas tree, which stands at over 100 feet tall, as well as other decorations such as giant, festively lit reindeers. When you’ve finished marvelling at the decorations, and perhaps done a bit of holiday shopping, pop across the street to Hudson’s Bay and enjoy the holiday window displays.
Many Toronto buildings take advantage of the season to illuminate their features with holiday lights, some of which you can even enjoy from the warmth of inside! At Brookfield Place you’ll find the six-storey arched Allen Lambert Atrium beautifully decorated with hundreds of lights, or head west to the Queen-Richmond Centre West. Here the giant frames of the modern atrium, which spans between two historic buildings, are used to support festive lights and decorations.
Niagara Falls and Celebrating the New Year
Toronto is an excellent location from which to visit Niagara Falls, and don’t let winter hold you back; the falls are just as spectacular as any other time of year. The Winter Festival of Lights runs for eight kilometres along the Niagara Parkway and into surrounding areas. The highlight are the displays at Dufferin Islands, where, in the comfort of your car, you can enjoy over 50 trees beautifully wrapped in lights and a variety of Canadian wildlife showcased in lights, such as moose, polar bears and bison.
On New Year’s Eve enjoy a huge concert and two fireworks displays at Victoria Park in Niagara Falls, or, if you’re back in Toronto, join the crowds at Nathan Phillips Square for fireworks, music and ice skating to celebrate the New Year.
Visit Toronto this winter https://goo.gl/a58qSz
Cover photo credits: Winter Festival of Lights