Christmas Markets aren’t exclusively for Europeans. This tradition has migrated to the Americas with an annual Christmas Market being held each year in Toronto at the historic Distillery District. If you love Christmas, this is sure to be the event that you don’t want to miss. Welcome to the Toronto Christmas Market! This is a free festive event in the city. I visited the market with two of my favourite ladies – my sister, Robyn and my best friend, Shannon.
About the Toronto Christmas Market
Christmas Markets originated in Germany and Austria during the Late Middle Ages. They are street markets that celebrate Christmas during the four weeks of Advent. In our case, the Toronto Christmas Market opens from the end of November through the weekend before Christmas. And the Distillery District is truly the best area in town for this type of market. The site was once home to the Gooderham & Worts Distillery, which represents the largest and best preserved collection of Victorian Industrial Architecture in North America.This revitalized pedestrian-only city block is presently filled with boutiques, galleries, restaurants, cafes, and microbreweries. The Toronto Christmas Market is exactly what you would expect of a European Christmas Market – in Canada! We truly celebrated the sights, sounds, and tastes of Christmas all in one afternoon.
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The Toronto Christmas Market is lined with dozens of wooden huts, each selling a unique variety of handmade gifts, imported treats from across Europe (we saw sweets and local delicacies from Germany, the Netherlands, and England, among others), Christmas decorations, nesting dolls, knit winter wear, and so much more. I added a new Christmas ornament to our growing collection (a little wooden owl decoration). You’ll be able to find unique holiday gifts here for loved ones (or yourself!).
What’s a Christmas Market without a Christmas tree? The Christmas tree this year at the Toronto Christmas Market was huge and very beautifully decorated in red and silver ornaments. Something about the tree looked really special with the old, industrial buildings in the background. Of course, it looked even better as the day quickly turned into night where the lights could truly sparkle.
While there were a few food options (sadly, none of them vegan), we were more interested in enjoying a beverage to ring in the holidays. Fortunately for us, some drink samples were being offered for free! Once we entered the Winter Warmer Lounge, we were able to enjoy some alcoholic drinks outside on the heated patio. There were a few open-air stalls that were giving away shots of vodka and amaretto. There were also samples of Mill Street beer being given out, which is a local microbrewery in the Distillery District. It was great to try some of their seasonal varieties, like their Vanilla Porter. We bought some Mulled Wine and Hot Toddies, complete with a cinnamon stick for garnish. Tip: We noticed that the liquor stalls closed down as it got dark outside, so be sure to get there earlier in the day!
Sights and Sounds of Christmas
Wandering about the Christmas Market really put me into the holiday spirit! There were people dressed up in costumes singing Christmas carols. There were snowmen statues that you could pose with, and you could take your photograph with Mrs. Claus. For the little ones (or the young at heart), you could get your photograph with Santa and tell him what you’d like for Christmas. Fodor’s Travel rated the Toronto Christmas Market as one of their Top 10 Christmas Markets in the World. You should definitely visit if you’re interested in frequenting Christmas markets or if you happen to be traveling to Toronto over the holidays.
Visiting the Christmas Market
So, the Christmas Market has completely wrapped up for this year, but it is an annual event. The market typically runs from the end of November through December, so be sure to check the website to attend next season. While it gets quite busy on weekends, most of the events and activities occur on the weekend. I have visited on a weekday, and it definitely isn’t as bumpin’. I highly recommend going on a weekend, but pack your patience. There are crowds and it does get busier as the evening rolls on because I’m sure everyone wants to see the market all lit up. I’ve heard that it is less busy on a Sunday. I recommend getting there earlier in the day on a Sunday and staying through nightfall, like we did!
Have you visited a Christmas Market before? Where was it, and what’s your favourite one?
Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas! Have a very safe and happy holiday!