Christmas in Toronto: The Best Toronto Christmas Events for Bright and Bustling Celebrations

Christmas in Toronto

‘Tis the season in Toronto! 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. 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.

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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.

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.

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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.

Aurora Winter Festival

Aurora Winter Festival - Toronto Christmas Events

Presented by the CNE, the Aurora Winter Festival is my choice for the top Toronto Christmas celebration. This outdoor winter festival happens at Ontario Place from the middle of November until the beginning of January. I love that there are multiple light displays with different themes. Even when we visited on a Saturday night, this Toronto Christmas festival didn’t feel overly crowded. Ontario Place has plenty of room and space for tons of people to visit all at once.

There are several mystical worlds at the Aurora Winter Festival: Whimsical Forest, Candy Cane Lane, Arctic Retreat, Luminous Gardens, and Snowflake Square. Make sure that you take a peek at the event map to make sure you don’t miss anything!

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. The Aurora Winter Festival is my new favorite way to celebrate Christmas in Toronto.

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.

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.

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.

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 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 at Nathan Phillips Square Toronto
Image: Wyliepoon on Flickr

With the popularity of the Toronto Christmas Market, there’s a second Christmas market at Nathan Phillips Square 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 at 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 “A Nutcracker Christmas at the Castle” and it runs throughout the holiday season into early January. 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 starting on December 16th. 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 Christmas Show

The One of a Kind Christmas 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.

Similar to the Aurora Winter Festival, 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.

Christmas Glow Toronto

Christmas Glow in Toronto - Toronto Christmas Events - Christmas in Toronto

Christmas Glow is one of the world’s largest indoor Christmas festivals, taking place in 10 cities across 3 countries. 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.

Miracle on Ossington: Christmas Themed Bar

If you’re still looking for things to do in Toronto this weekend, why not cap off your evening with a delicious holiday cocktail? Miracle Toronto is a pop-up Christmas themed bar on Ossington Street, north of Queen Street West (146 Ossington Ave). You’ll find Christmas wrapping paper adorning the walls, twinkling lights and decorations everywhere, and holiday boozy beverages.

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.

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!). If you’re still looking for fun and festive activities, here are the top 5 Canadian Christmas markets where you can enjoy Christmas in Toronto…and beyond!

What are your favorite things to do in Toronto in December?

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