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Christmas in Toronto: The Best Toronto Christmas Events

There are so many Christmas events in Toronto that make the city one of the best places to celebrate the holiday season. Ringing in Christmas in Toronto is so much fun with numerous annual festivities and activities. There are many Christmas markets in Canada, including the famously popular one at the Distillery District in Toronto.

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Beyond the Christmas Market, there are many places to celebrate the holidays in Toronto. Whether you’re starting new Canadian Christmas traditions with your family here or you’re visiting Toronto on a vacation, there are so many Toronto Christmas celebrations to keep you busy this winter.

Christmas in Toronto

Looking for things to do in Toronto in December? Here are my top suggestions for holiday events in Toronto that’ll have you feeling festive right through the entire month.

Christmas in Toronto: The Toronto Christmas Market

Christmas in Toronto at the Toronto Christmas Market in the Distillery District

While Christmas markets originated in Germany, the Toronto Christmas Market is the first one I ever attended. It takes place every year at the historic Distillery District. The cobblestone streets of this pedestrian area is the perfect backdrop for a Christmas market. If you’re looking to celebrate Christmas in Toronto, the Toronto Christmas Market will surely top your list of festivities.

Distillery Winter Village

Distillery Winter Village

This year, the Distillery Winter Village is replacing the Toronto Christmas Market for safety purposes. It is a scaled down version of the Toronto Christmas Market, and you’ll need to purchase timed tickets in advance. There’s winter displays, music, outdoor shopping cabins, food vendors, and all of your favourite Distillery shops and restaurants to visit.

You also won’t want to miss the massive Christmas tree at the Distillery District. It’s stunning! The timed tickets are for two hours at a time, and you’ll be able to check out all of the festivities. Even though it’s a smaller version of the market with time restrictions, it’s still one of the best ways to celebrate Christmas in Toronto.

Toronto Christmas Market (Hopefully Returning in 2022!)

Toronto Christmas Market

Like many traditional Christmas Markets, there are dozens of open air stalls selling handmade crafts and sumptuous treats. There are bright, twinkling lights and a massive Christmas tree. There are people dressed up in costumes and performers singing Christmas carols.

As the Toronto Christmas Market is one of the busiest holiday events in Toronto, it can be quite crowded on Friday nights and weekends. There is a small admission fee to limit the crowds on the weekends (which doesn’t really work because it’s always insanely busy). I recommend going on a weekday if you can manage it. It’s free on weekdays and it won’t be nearly as busy. For more details and photos, take a look at my article that’s all about the Toronto Christmas Market experience.

Looking for where to stay? My choice for the top Toronto hotel near the Toronto Christmas Market is the Broadview Hotel. Book your stay at the Broadview Hotel and here are some reviews by fellow travelers.

Christmas in Toronto: Snow Magic at Ontario Place

Aurora Winter Festival - Toronto Christmas Events

Presented by Drive Thru Fun Co., Snow Magic is a drive thru holiday event in Toronto at Ontario Place. You’ll witness spectacular art projects, numerous illuminations, light tunnels, and awe-inspiring pyrotechnics.

You’ll drive for approximately 30 minutes around Ontario Place’s East Island, and it will put you right in the Christmas spirit. This is one of the best ways to celebrate Christmas in Toronto. Snow Magic runs from November 12th to January 16th.

In previous years, the Aurora Winter Festival was hosted at Ontario Place. It’s an outdoor winter festival in Toronto with multiple light displays with different themes. There are several mystical worlds at the Aurora Winter Festival: Whimsical Forest, Candy Cane Lane, Arctic Retreat, Luminous Gardens, and Snowflake Square.

In addition, there’s a skating rink, a small Christmas market with wooden booths, a huge Christmas tree, a midway with rides and games, food booths, indoor and outdoor dining areas to eat and drink, and more. Treat yourself to a hot coffee, hot chocolate, or a glass of mulled wine.

My choice for the best Toronto hotel near the Aurora Winter Festival is the Hotel X by Library Hotel Collection. Book your stay at the Hotel X and check out these reviews by fellow travelers.

Christmas Events in Toronto: Canada’s Wonderland WinterFest

Canada's Wonderland WinterFest - Christmas in Toronto - Christmas events in Toronto
Image: Chris Robart via Flickr

If you’re looking to create brand new Canadian Christmas traditions, one of the top theme parks in the country has an exciting new winter event. Canada’s Wonderland, a thrilling theme park in the Greater Toronto Area is hosting WinterFest until the end of December.

While many of the rides are closed for the season, Canada’s Wonderland will magically transform into a winter wonderland. You’ll be enchanted by Christmas lights and decorations, magical performances, a skating rink, a nightly tree lighting celebration, and activities like cookie decorating and making crafts. Some family rides for the kiddos will be open for WinterFest. For the adults, you can treat yourself to craft beer and Ontario wine.

WinterFest is one of the best ways to celebrate Christmas in Toronto, and it’s truly wonderful that this beloved amusement park of the GTA has extended its operational days into December.

My choice for the best place to stay near Canada’s Wonderland is the Novotel Toronto Vaughan Centre. Book your stay at the Novotel in Vaughan and check out these reviews by fellow travelers.

Polar Winter Festival

Polar Winter Festival is a new holiday experience at Bandshell Park, Exhibition Place. It’s a walk-through winter wonderland with Christmas lights, a huge Christmas tree, and beautiful holiday decor. There are fun rides like a super slide and a holiday carousel, plus carnival games and yummy treats.

Speaking of treats, there’s a food market and a cocktail lounge. You can also visit the vendor huts and even have the chance to meet Santa himself. The Polar Winter Festival has timed entry tickets that you’ll need to buy in advance, and it runs from November 25th to December 26th (Wednesday to Sunday).

Christmas at Nathan Phillips Square

Nathan Phillips Square is a main hub of Toronto Christmas events throughout the holiday season. The celebrations begin with the Cavalcade of Lights in late November and continue with a Christmas market, an ice skating rink, and Toronto’s Christmas tree.

Cavalcade of Lights

Cavalcade of Lights - Christmas in Toronto
Image: D_Pham via Flickr

The Cavalcade of Lights marks the official start to celebrating Christmas in Toronto. It’s one of the best Canadian Christmas traditions in the city, happening annually for over 50 years. It’s Toronto’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony, a DJ skating party, circus arts performances, live music, and an impressive fireworks display at the end of the night.

Don’t worry if you miss the Cavalcade of Lights event. The Christmas tree and the lights display will illuminate the square every night throughout the holiday season. One of the best things to do in Toronto in December is visit Nathan Phillips Square to view the giant Christmas tree and all of the dazzling lights.

Holiday Fair in the Square

Holiday Fair in the Square - Toronto Ontario

UPDATE: This year, Holiday Fair in the Square will be hosted in Vaughan! They’re also teaming up with Night of Lights this year for an even bigger and brighter holiday event.

With the popularity of the Toronto Christmas Market, there’s a second Christmas market called Holiday Fair in the Square. It combines the charming traditional Christmas market with a bustling winter carnival, featuring vendor booths, rides and games, food trucks, performances, a bar with mulled wine, and more. You’re also welcome to lace up your ice skates and glide around the skating rink on site, too.

Looking for where to stay near Nathan Phillips Square? Book your stay at my top choice, the St. Regis Toronto. Check out reviews by fellow travelers to learn more about this luxury property.

Christmas in Toronto: Casa Loma

Casa Loma Christmas - Toronto Christmas Events
Image: Mary Crandall via Flickr

Yes, Toronto’s castle has a holiday event, too! The Casa Loma Christmas event is called Christmas at the Castle and it runs throughout the holiday season until the end of December. It’s one of the top things to do in Toronto in December. If you haven’t visited Casa Loma yet, now is the time!

Throughout the castle, you’ll find holiday decor, an impressive 40 foot tall Christmas tree in the Great Hall, and eight other Christmas trees by Canadian designers. There are shows and performances by ice skaters, illusionists, and the Casa Loma Holiday Orchestra.

Furthermore, there’s a brilliant outdoor Christmas lights display every night. Wander through dazzling lights in the gardens and tunnels. It’s designed as a self-guided tour. For those looking to celebrate Christmas in Toronto, the activities and displays at Casa Loma are not to be missed.

If you’re searching for the best hotel near Casa Loma, book your stay at the Kimpton Saint George Hotel. For more information, read more reviews of this hotel by trusted travelers.

One of a Kind Winter Show

The One of a Kind Winter Show is the best place to do your holiday shopping this year. It’s one of the largest craft shows in North America, featuring 800 artists and artisans with thousands of unique gifts. The One of a Kind Show takes place across 11 days, giving you plenty of time to find something special for everyone in your life. You’ll find original artwork, handmade crafts, eco-friendly gifts, unique clothing items, jewelry, ceramics, and so much more.

One of the best reasons to visit the One of a Kind Winter Show is for the sampling stations. There are lots of yummy treats to buy at the show, and you almost always get to try before you buy! Bring an empty stomach to the event because you can easily sample a meal’s worth of treats throughout the day.

The One of a Kind Christmas Show is one of the best places to go shopping for Christmas in Toronto. Check it out at the Enercare Center at Exhibition Place. It happens from November 25th to December 5th.

My top recommendation for accommodations near the One of a Kind Winter Show is the Hotel X by Library Hotel Collection. Book your stay at the Hotel X and check out these reviews by fellow travelers.

More Local Christmas Artisan Markets in Toronto

There are many Christmas craft markets and holiday artisan markets all over Toronto and the GTA. Here is a quick list of where to find unique gifts for the holiday season:

Allan Gardens Christmas by Candlelight

Allan Gardens Conservatory in Toronto - Christmas by Candlelight

Kicking off the month of December, Allan Gardens Conservatory hosts its Winter Flower Show. Until the beginning of January, you’ll be able to see thousands of flowering plants, including 30 varieties of poinsettias. Allan Gardens features six greenhouses, and it’s a fabulous place to warm up on a cold, winter day. Plus, it’s one of the best free things to do in Toronto.

Christmas by Candlelight is a special event throughout the Winter Flower Show. On select evenings, Allan Gardens has extended hours until 7:00pm. You’ll be able to view the plants and flowers by candlelight at one of the most magical Christmas events in Toronto. (This might not be happening in 2021).

My top choice for where to stay in Toronto near Allan Gardens is the Chelsea Hotel Toronto. Book your stay at the Chelsea Hotel and check out these reviews by fellow travelers.

Closer to the west end of the city, Etobicoke or Mississauga? The Centennial Park Conservatory has a Winter Flower Show and Christmas by Candlelight events, too.

Christmas Themed Bars and Cocktail Lounges in Toronto

If you’re still looking for things to do in Toronto this weekend, why not cap off your evening with a delicious holiday cocktail? There are a few Christmas bars and cocktail lounges in Toronto that are only open for the holidays.

Miracle on Bloor Street / Sippin’ Santa

Miracle Toronto is a pop-up Christmas themed bar on Bloor Street. You’ll find Christmas wrapping paper adorning the walls, twinkling lights and decorations everywhere, and holiday boozy beverages. There’s Miracle on Bloor Street and its holiday tiki sister bar, Sippin’ Santa. Both are located at Bloor and Ossington.

Aromas of cinnamon loft through the air as you sip drinks like the Snowball Old Fashioned and the Bad Santa. There are 10 different Christmas cocktails in total, and the pop-up bar remains open until Boxing Day. It’s the perfect way to end a day of Toronto Christmas shopping, and a really fun place to gather your friends to celebrate Christmas in Toronto.

My top choice for a hotel in Toronto near this Christmas popup bar is the Gladstone Hotel. Book your stay at the Gladstone Hotel and check out these reviews by travelers who have stayed there.

The Thirsty Elf at the Fairmont Royal York

The Fairmont Royal York is hosting a fun Christmas bar called The Thirsty Elf during the holidays. This place is like sitting inside of a Christmas present! There’s kitschy decor from floor to ceiling and loads of festive cocktails.

While many holiday events in Toronto require reservations, walk-ins are accepted at The Thirsty Elf. While you are welcome to make reservations, you can likely visit this one at the spur of the moment, too. You can also make a total vacation out of it by spending the night at the Fairmont Royal York.

Hudson’s Bay Holiday Windows

Hudson's Bay Holiday Windows - Christmas in Toronto

This is an 100 year old tradition that’s fun and free if you happen to be walking down Queen Street West. The Hudson’s Bay Company decorates its windows every year for Christmas. In 2019, the theme is “Behind the Scenes in Santa’s Workshop”. You’ll have to pop by to take a peek for yourself, and perhaps get some Christmas shopping done while you’re at it.

Looking for even more Canadian Christmas traditions that extend beyond the city of Toronto? I recommend taking a road trip to check out Niagara Falls in winter or see some frozen waterfalls in Hamilton (if it’s cold enough!). Other great Canadian cities to visit in the winter include Ottawa and Quebec City, including the Quebec Winter Carnival and a stay at the Ice Hotel.

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Bryson Fico

Friday 26th of November 2021

Excellent itinery for visiting Toronto during Christmas. We planning a visit for Christmas 2022 and we will definitely add holiday fair in the square to our list.

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