Christmas is just 31 days away, and chances are in your neck of the woods, its beginning to flock and feel a lot like Christmas. If you haven't begun to already, its time to start getting in the holiday spirit. One of my favourite things to do during the holiday season is to take in some of the many festivals, events and experiences the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) has to offer. At over 7000 square km and with a population of over 6 million and growing, this list of things to do this holiday season is pretty long.
Do you live in the GTA, or perhaps are just passing through for the holidays? While this list is just the tip of the iceberg, I've compiled my top 10 things to do in Toronto this holiday season.
10 Things To Do in Toronto This Holiday Season
1// Stroll through the Toronto Christmas Market
Inspired by the European tradition that originated in Germany in the 1400s, the Toronto Christmas Market celebrates all of the sounds, sights and scents of Christmas. Taking place in the Victorian-era, cobblestone-lined Distillery Historic District, this annual festive event brings local craft-makers, carollers, musicians and artisanal food-makers together for a truly magical experience. Sip on mulled wine, European Christmas cocktails and hot chocolate as you peruse the selection of Christmas merchandise including hand-made ornaments, wood carvings, candles and crafts.
Location: 55 Mill Street Toronto, ON
Hours: November 20 - December 20; hours vary by day of week
Cost: Free admission Tuesday to Friday and $5.00 admission (incl. tax) Saturday and Sunday.
2// Shop at the Toronto Eaton Centre
With 1,722,000 square feet of retail space — that’s nearly 30 football fields — there’s nowhere better to check off wish lists while admiring glittery decorations. The shopping mall is Toronto's top tourist attraction, with around one million visitors per week. The mall contains a wide selection of 330 stores and restaurants.
Location: 220 Yonge St, Toronto, ON
Hours: Holiday hours Nov 30 to Dec 27: Monday to Saturday 9:00-9:30pm, Sunday 10-7pm (some exceptions)
Cost: Free to admire.
3// Browse the Hudson Bay window displays
For the most iconic holiday window display in the city, take the subway down to Queen station where the flagship Hudson’s Bay store location rivals Macy’s in New York with functioning train sets, mechanical mice and moving Santas.
Location: 176 Yonge Street Toronto, ON
Hours: Approximately November 1 to the first week of 2016
4// Take in the Cavalcade of Lights at Nathan Phillips Square
Mark the official start of the holiday season at the 49th annual Cavalcade of Lights, taking place on November 28. This holiday tradition at Nathan Phillips Square, home of City Hall, features the first illumination of Toronto’s official Christmas Tree, performances by some of Canada’s top musical talent, a spectacular fireworks show and skating parties. While the Cavalcade takes place one night only, the tree remains on display throughout the holiday season.
Location: 100 Queen St W, Toronto, ON
Hours: Saturday, November 28 6-10pm
5// Skate amongst the skyscrapers
There are several outdoor public skating rinks located around the city. For an iconic urban skating experience, glide around Nathan Phillips Square amidst the tall buildings, the sparkly lights and massive Christmas tree. Skating at the rink continues all season long, and skate rentals are available on-site.
Location: 100 Queen St W, Toronto, ON
Hours: Open November 28 - March 20 (weather permitting)
6// Lace up your skates at the Harbourfront Centre
For a waterfront experience, make your way down to Natrel Rink at Harbourfront Centre, set against the beautiful shoreline of Lake Ontario. The centre hosts Saturday skating nights on its outdoor rink complete with a DJ spinning groove-worthy tracks.
Location: 235 Queens Quay West Toronto, ON
Hours: Open November 28 (weather permitting)
7// Spend time with nature at Evergreen Brick Works
Celebrate the start of winter with a day of shopping, ice-skating, eating and mulled-wine drinking at Evergreen Brick Works. Visit on Saturday and check out the Farmers Market, the largest in Toronto, where you'll find a wide selection of local, farm-fresh food farmers, producers and chefs.
Location: 550 Bayview Ave Toronto, ON
Hours: Vary by day. Saturday Farmers Market runs 9-1pm from November 14 - April 30.
Cost: Free entrance. Check website for cost of various activities, such as skating.
8// Go on a culinary Christmas tour through Kensington Market
Located in the heart of Toronto, Kensington Market is one of Toronto's most vibrant and diverse neighbourhoods. This 3-hour holiday food tour aims to provide guests with the chance to sample the range of delectable offerings available throughout the market, while learning interesting information about the area and its history. Enjoy artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, gourmet sandwiches, mulled wine and lots more.
Location: Just west of downtown, bordered by Spadina Ave, Dundas St, Bathurst St and College St
Hours: Check the website.
Cost: $60 + tax
9// Celebrate old & new at Black Creek Pioneer Village
Tour the historic houses and discover the origins of Christmas traditions popular today. Enjoy a horse-drawn wagon ride around the historic Village and meet with Santa in Santa's Cottage.
Location: 1000 Murray Ross Parkway, Toronto, ON M3J 2P3
Hours: November 21 - December 23
Cost: $11.00 (Child 3+) to $15.00 (Adult 15-59)
10// Cut your own tree
Take a short drive north of the City to one of the many Christmas tree farms. Whether it’s a family holiday tradition or a new experience, there’s nothing quite like the real thing.
Location: Several locations throughout the GTA.
Hours: Varies by location.
Cost: Varies by location.
More information on local farms here.
Looking for a little something extra special this holiday season? Why not start with 10 traditions to start with your special someone.
What are your favourite things to do in your area during the holidays?