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25 Best Toronto Christmas Events You Need to Experience (2023)

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 so many beautiful places to see Christmas lights in Toronto, which includes many events from this list, too.

There are many Christmas markets in Canada and Christmas markets in Ontario, including the famously popular one at the Distillery District in Toronto. Beyond the Christmas Market, there are many places to celebrate the holidays in Toronto. Whether you’re starting new Canadian holiday traditions with your family or you’re visiting Toronto this winter, there are so many Toronto Christmas celebrations to keep you entertained.

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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.

The Toronto Christmas Market (Distillery Winter Village)

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
Distillery Winter Village

Last year, the Toronto Christmas Market rebranded as the Distillery Winter Village. It was a scaled down version of the Toronto Christmas Market last year, but it felt exactly the same as the original Toronto Christmas Market to me. There’s winter displays, music, outdoor shopping cabins, food vendors, and all of your favourite Distillery shops and restaurants to visit.

Like many traditional Christmas Markets, there are dozens of open air stalls selling handmade crafts and sumptuous treats. I’ve found tons of vegan eats at the Distillery Winter Market, like Beyond Meat bratwurst, vegan and gluten-free butter tarts, and Eva’s Original Chimney cakes. Don’t miss stopping by Balzac’s for a flavoured latte or hot chocolate.

Vegan food at the Toronto Christmas Market
Vegan food at the Toronto Christmas Market
Vegan food at the Toronto Christmas Market
Vegan food at the Toronto Christmas Market

You also won’t want to miss the massive Christmas tree at the Distillery District. It’s the perfect centerpiece for the dazzling twinkling lights displays all around. New for this year, there’s an interactive Gingerbread Person Hunt and a line up of amazing entertainment. Of course, Santa and his elves will be in attandance, as well as a chorus of Christmas carolers.

As the Toronto Christmas Market is one of the busiest holiday events in Toronto, it can be quite crowded on Friday nights and weekends. I recommend going on a weekday if you can manage it. It’s free on weekdays and it won’t be nearly as busy.

Distillery Winter Village
Distillery Winter Village

It is free from Monday to Thursday and during the day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. After 4pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, you must purchase a timed ticket online ahead of time. You must arrive during your designated time slot, but you can stay as long as you like. This Toronto Christmas Market runs until December 31st.

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.

Holiday Hills at Stackt Market

Holiday Hills at Stackt Market

Holiday Hills is back at Stackt Market! This is a unique marketplace in Toronto where the shops are made out of shipping containers. The entire market will transform into a winter wonderland with immersive photo installations, beautiful holiday ambience, small business Christmas shopping, and community workshops and programs.

Holiday Hills at Stackt Market
Holiday Hills at Stackt Market

There’s also a Ferris wheel, Toronto’s first outdoor wellness playground, a live music series on Fridays, a vendor market series on Saturday afternoons, and family fun on Sundays. Holiday Hills takes place from November 18th to December 31st and it’s free to attend.

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 on select nights 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.

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.

Ice Skating at Nathan Phillips Square

Holiday Fair in the Square - Toronto Ontario

This popular outdoor ice skating rink in Toronto is open for drop-in skating as soon as it becomes cold enough outside. The large fountain is transformed into a skating rink for everyone to enjoy. The Nathan Phillips Square ice rink is scheduled to open on November 26th.

Ice skating at Nathan Phillips Square

There are loads of other fantastic outdoor rinks in Toronto to go ice skating. You can also sharpen your skates and head to the Harbourfront Centre for their large skating rink. The Bentway also has an ice skating trail, and there are skate rentals on-site.

Holiday Fair in the Square

Christmas tree at Nathan Phillips Square

Holiday Fair in the Square is back at Nathan Phillips Square for this upcoming holiday season in Toronto. The original Toronto Christmas Market was so popular that Toronto received a second Christmas Market. Holiday Fair in the Square is back from December 2nd to 23rd.

Holiday Fair in the Square
Holiday Fair in the Square

It combines the charming traditional Christmas market with a bustling winter carnival, vendor booths and artisan market, a midway with 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.

Beavertails
Holiday Fair in the Square

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.

Casa Loma’s Christmas at the Castle and Holiday Lights

Casa Loma Christmas

Yes, Toronto’s castle is all ready for the holidays, too. Casa Loma has two Christmas events: Christmas at the Castle and the Holiday Lights Tour. They are among the top things to do in Toronto in December. If you haven’t visited Casa Loma yet, now is the time!

Casa Loma Christmas at the Castle
Casa Loma Christmas at the Castle
Casa Loma Christmas at the Castle

At Christmas at 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 also wintery holiday mascots and Santa for the kids and kids at heart! Christmas at the Castle happens on select dates from December 2nd to January 2nd.

Casa Loma Holiday Lights
Casa Loma Holiday Lights
Casa Loma Holiday Lights

The Holiday Lights Tour is a self-guided walk at Casa Loma that you don’t want to miss. There are brilliant outdoor Christmas lights display every night between December 1st and January 8th. Wander through dazzling lights in the gardens and tunnels. For those looking to celebrate Christmas in Toronto, the activities and displays at Casa Loma are experienced you need to check out.

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.

Christmas in Toronto: Northern Lights

Northern Lights Toronto Event

Brand new for 2022, Northern Lights is an immersive holiday experience at Exhibition Place. It’s a feast for the senses with the lights, sights, sounds and feelings of the holidays. It appears as though the Northern Lights event is replacing Snow Magic of previous years, although it’s an entirely new Christmas event in Toronto.

It’s an all ages event with 80,000 square feet of Christmas experiences, making it one of the largest Christmas events in Toronto. Northern Lights happens from December 1st to January 8th, and it’s highly recommended that you buy tickets online in advance.

Some of the highlights of this Toronto Christmas festival include a 30 foot immersive light tunnel, a 25 foot illuminated Christmas tree, custom-built light installations, a holiday vendor market, photos with Santa, a Christmas tree forest, and a wide array of food and beverage options (including fine wine and holiday spirits).

Holiday Magic at Yorkville Village

Bloor-Yorkville Holiday Magic

This is one of the best free things to do in Toronto during the Christmas season. Bloor-Yorkville is one of the best places in Toronto for Christmas decorations. Check out Holiday Magic for their beautiful display of lights.

Bloor-Yorkville Holiday Magic
Bloor-Yorkville Holiday Magic

Go for a stroll around Yorkville Village with a hot chocolate or coffee in your hand from a nearby cafe. There are also 138 illuminated Christmas trees along Bloor Street. Go for a walk around Bloor-Yorkville on a December evening to soak up the holiday cheer.

Glow Christmas

Glow Christmas

Glow Christmas is one of the world’s largest indoor Christmas festivals, taking place in 7 cities in Canada and the USA. Toronto has its own enchanting Christmas Glow event at the Toronto Congress Center. At Christmas Glow, there are Christmas light displays, a vendor market, yummy food and drinks to taste, and of course, Santa will be in attendance.

When celebrating Christmas in Toronto, this one has an advantage of being indoors. Even if it’s snowing outside, you’ll be nice and warm at this magical festival. Add Christmas Glow to your list of things to do in Toronto this December.

The Toronto Congress Center is near Toronto’s Pearson Airport. I recommend staying at a hotel that’s right across the street from Christmas Glow, the Delta Toronto Airport. Book your stay and feel free to browse more reviews by fellow travelers.

One of a Kind Winter Show

Christmas in Toronto

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. It takes place annual at the Enercare Centre at Exhibition Place.

The One of a Kind Show takes place from November 24th to December 4th, 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.

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

UPDATE: This event doesn’t look to be happening this year, but I will come back and update when I learn more! I’ll leave the entry here for now in case it does make a comeback.

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

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.

Java Jingle Holiday Bar

The Java Jingle Holiday Bar is happening this year at both locations of Little Sister, starting on November 22nd. You can reserve your spot in advance at either spot. There are 17 cocktails and 2 holiday festive shooters, as well as full menus. Make sure you snag a drink in one of those nostalgic Grinch mugs.

Mistletoes & Margaritas

Papa Chulo’s is hosting its amazing Mistletoes & Margaritas pop-up event this year once again, starting on November 18th. There will be festival lights and dazzling holiday decor everywhere you look. Try the eggnog martini or the mistletoe margarita, and be sure to wear your favourite ugly Christmas sweater or Santa hat.

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. You’ll have to pop by to take a peek for yourself, and perhaps get some Christmas shopping done while you’re at it.

This year, the windows will be a little bit different from previous years. Hudson’s Bay is unveiling a new interactive augmented reality experience featuring animatronic vignettes. If you’re wandering around checking out Christmas lights and Christmas events in Toronto, make a detour to these famous festive windows.

Santa Claus Parade in Toronto

Toronto Santa Claus Parade

Toronto’s Santa Claus Parade is always the event that kicks off the holiday season. It’s been happening since 1905, so it’s a time honoured tradition in the city. This year, the Santa Claus Parade returns on November 20th. It’s a fun and free Christmas event in Toronto.

The parade route starts at Christie Pits and heads down Bloor. Then, it continues down University and eventually ends up at St. Lawrence Market. There will be floats, marching bands, and Santa and Mrs. Claus. Can’t attend? The Santa Claus Parade airs Saturday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. ET/PT on CTV both on TV and online.

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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