Here’s a list of the best things to do in Toronto for Christmas to get you into the holiday spirit.
The Santa Claus Parade has been a Toronto tradition for over 100 years, and this year, it returns for another run on November 18. Originating in 1905, the first Santa Claus Parade started at Union Station and went all the way to the Eaton Centre.
This year, the Santa Claus Parade begins at Christie Pitts, passes the ROM, from Bloor to Avenue, and ends at the St. Lawrence Market.
Note: Make sure to pack lots of layers to stay warm and arrive early- the good spots fill up fast!
WHEN: Nov 18th at 12:30 PM
WHERE: Christie Pitts to St. Lawrence Market
Speaking of traditions, the Toronto Christmas Market is back at the Distillery District for another year of holiday ciders, treats, and instgrammable photo opps. After 8 years, this market has ranked as one of the world’s best Christmas markets by Fodor’s Travel, USA Today, and Mashable.
The Toronto Christmas Market has many offerings, but what brings people from near and far is the chance to taste traditional European street-style food, as well as the Canadian holiday treats and brews in the beer gardens.
WHEN: Nov 15th to Dec 23rd
Tuesday to Thursday, Noon to 9 PM
Fridays from 12 PM to 10 PM
Saturdays from 10 AM to 10 PM
Sundays from 10 AM to 9 PM
Closed Mondays (but the shops and restaurants of the Distillery Historic District are open seven days a week)
WHERE: Distillery District
Tuesday to Thursday: Free
Fridays before 5:00 PM: Free
Fridays (after 5 PM), Saturdays and Sundays: $6 (tax included)
Note: The funds raised from ticket sales help grow the festival, and support three charities: The Daily Bread Food Bank which helps provide nutritious food to people struggling with hunger, Plan International Canada which helps families and children in developing countries to break the cycle of poverty, and The Toronto Star Santa Claus Fund which helps provide gifts to underprivileged children.
Toronto’s Ontario Place will be also be transformed into a magical winter wonderland so you can escape to a hidden village by the North Pole filled with captivating light displays, magical characters, market huts, food gardens, amusement rides, live entertainment, and plenty of other fun holiday activities.
The Aurora Winter Festival will have exciting attractions and rides. You can also climb the stairs to the 180 foot tube park fit for all ages or climb on our 60 foot ferris wheel to get the best view of the entire festival.
WHEN: Nov 28 to Dec 23
WHERE: Ontario Place’s East Island
4. Christmas Decorations at Casa Loma
Casa Loma is among the most recognized historic sites in the country which isn’t a surprise as it is one of the most photographed and talked about landmarks. We wrote about Legends of Horror in our Halloween article, and now we’re back to tell you that Casa Loma is getting dressed as a stunning holiday attraction, transforming into a classic wintery tale.
This year’s Casa Loma winter theme is A Nutcracker Christmas at the Castle. The annual event will include the spectacular outdoor light displays, performances, food and drink options, as well as a holiday market.
WHEN: Dec 17 to 23rd from 5 to 9 PM every night.
WHERE: Casa Loma 1 Austin Terrace, Toronto
More plans will be released in the coming weeks.
5. Ice Skating
Looking for something outdoorsy to do in Toronto for the holidays? Check out the rinks at the Gage Park, Nathan Philips Square, or the Harbourfront Centre Natrel Rink. Dress warm and grab a skating partner!
6. Cavalcade of Lights
Nathan Phillips Square’s 51st annual kick-off to the holiday season takes place November 24th and features performances by some of Canada’s top musical talent, a fireworks show, and a skating party.
Note: Don’t worry if you miss the kick-off event, the lights are ablaze every night for weeks after.
WHEN: Nov 24th
WHERE: Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto
Yonge and Dundas Square kicks off the holiday season with a tree lighting ceremony, live music, dancing and a festive sing-a-long.
WHEN: Nov 17th
WHERE: Yonge-Dundas Square, 1 Dundas St. East, Toronto
Listen to some festive jazz music as the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood as it hosts its annual lighting ceremony.
WHEN: Dec 1st
WHERE: St. Lawrence Market 93 Front St E, Toronto
9. The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train
The CP Holiday Train will set out once again to entertain hundreds of thousands of people, celebrating 20 years of collecting food and raising funds for food banks across North America.
The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train will travel across Canada this holiday season and will be making a stop in Toronto.
WHEN: Nov 29th
The classic Nutcracker story takes place on Christmas Eve in Imperial Russia and tells the tale of Marie and Misha, brought into the magical world of the Nutcracker.
WHEN: Dec 8—30th
WHERE: 145 Queen St W, Toronto
The Toronto Christmas Pet Expo falls one month before Christmas this year as they celebrate pets of all types while presenting the message of responsible pet ownership to all attendees.
WHEN: Nov 24th – Nov 25th
WHERE: 6900 Airport Rd. Mississauga
The 5th annual Christmas Market by Toronto Art Crawl is your one stop shop destination for holiday gifts. There will be over 90 artists, 2 floors of shopping, live music, interactive demos, food, cash bar, face painting, and lots more.
WHEN: Dec 9th – 11-6 PM
WHERE: The Great Hall located at 1087 Queen St. West
COST: $10 tickets online, $12 at the door
13. Miracle Christmas Bar
Civil Liberties is collaborating with Miracle, a pop-up bar that’s Christmas-themed. They are decorating the space to be fully covered in Christmassy decorations at 251 Queen West from November 23rd to December 26th.
14. John Legend – A Legendary Christmas
John Legend has announced his first Christmas album, A Legendary Christmas. The album was due right before Halloween on October 26th and it marks Legend’s first steps into the world of Christmas music.
Legend’s album, which features Stevie Wonder vocals, will also be accompanied by a 25-date holiday tour, which kicks off on November 15th in Florida before wrapping up on December 30th in San Diego.
The tour will be making a Canadian stop in Toronto on November 27th at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.
Here’s a look at the track list in his new album:
- What Christmas Means to Me (feat. Stevie Wonder on harmonica)
- Silver Bells
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (feat. Esperanza Spalding)
- No Place Like Home
- Bring Me Love
- Merry Christmas Baby / Give Love on Christmas Day
- Christmas Time Is Here
- Waiting for Christmas
- Purple Snowflakes
- The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)
- Please Come Home for Christmas
- Wrap Me Up in Your Love
- By Christmas Eve
- Merry Merry Christmas
WHEN: Tuesday, Nov 27th, 2018 at 8 PM – Doors 7 PM, Show is at 8 PM
WHERE: The Sony Centre for the Performing Arts
Tickets on sale now on TicketMaster.
12 BARZ has been running for 15 years and is officially North America’s Largest Pub Crawl.
Your ticket for the evening is the famous 12 Barz T-Shirt, including:
- Exclusive access to the bars planned out for the evening. No cover and direct entry at all locations
- Featured shot & drink specials at every bar
- The brand NEW 12 Barz Sharpie, Stickers & The Official 2018 Shot Glass
- A Memorabilia T-Shirt covered in sharpie messages and pictures from randoms and friends
- Chance to win some unreal gifts from a pool of prizes
Tickets are $20-22 at www.12Barz.com/tickets.
2018 list of bars:
- Croc Rock
- Tequila Jacks
- Cake Nightclub
- Bar 244
- Dublin Calling
- Office Pub
16. NORDEN: The Festival of Cool
Toronto is fully embracing its icy wintertime identity this year with a new festival dedicated to all things Nordic.
NORDEN: The Festival of Cool is hitting the Harbourfront Centre from November 24th to December 2nd, and according to organizers, the event will have you embracing the hygge, which is a Danish and Norwegian word for a feeling of wellness, coziness, and contentment.
This waterfront pop-up holiday market will have panel discussions, art exhibits, and a Finnish wrapping paper workshop. Claus Meyer, co-founder of the world-renowned restaurant Noma will also be giving a lecture, and Chef Anthony Rose of Rose and Sons will be hosting a Nordic Meyer-inspired brunch made from local ingredients.
Finally, there will be a music performance at Natrel Rink from Icelandic, Danish, Norwegian, and Inuk artists, and dance parties.
The Venus Winter Market is a Canadian Music Festival celebrating feminism in the arts. They announced their first ever winter market, featuring local businesses run by women and non-binary entrepreneurs.
This market showcases women, trans, and non binary artists and makers.
WHEN: Dec 16, from 11 AM to 5 PM
WHERE: Lula Lounge
18. Evergreen Winter Village
Evergreen Brick Works is another spot that will be transformed into a winter wonderland during weekends for the month of December. The village is packed with a line-up of fun outdoor activities. Keep warm by a campfire, try street curling or participate in one of their winter-themed scavenger hunts. Local food trucks will be serving up food and the Evergreen Garden Market is open if you’re wanting to treat yourself.
WHEN: Every weekend in December & December 26 – 31st 10 AM – 5 PM
WHERE: 550 Bayview Ave, Toronto
19. Floral Essence
If you’re crafty and are looking for something festive to do, check out Market & Co.’s Jessica Johnston as she teaches a class on holiday decor. Transform your outdoor planter while sipping on a nice glass of wine.
Floral Essence Founder Jessica Johnston guides you on how to create your very own customized holiday planter insert just in time for the holidays. Take your hand-made creation home to enjoy this holiday.
What’s included in the class:
- All Seasonal Assorted Greens & Fresh Materials
- All Supplies & Instructions
- Make & Take Custom Creation
- Complimentary Glass of Red or White Wine
WHEN: Nov 11th at 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
WHERE: Market & Co. 17600 Yonge St Newmarket
20. Christmas Decorations at the Eaton Centre
The Eaton’s Centre houses a 100-foot Christmas tree that is coming back for another year of show-stopping attention, and this year’s version will have some “interactive elements” to it.
WHEN: The official Tree Lighting ceremony will take place on Nov 15th at 6:30 PM
WHERE: Eaton’s Centre 220 Yonge St, Toronto
Note: The mall will be packed so arrive early for a good spot!
21. Black Creek Pioneer Village
Step into a Christmas wonderland with the sights and sounds of a Victorian Christmas. Here, you’ll find special Christmas activities every Saturday and Sunday.
WHEN: Nov 17 @ 11:00 AM – Dec 23rd @ 4:30 PM
WHERE: Black Creek Pioneer Village 1000 Murray Ross Pkwy, North York