Are you seeking some fun and festive things to do in Toronto this holiday season? The holidays are one of the best times of the year. From sipping hot apple cider at artisan Christmas markets to ice skating with friends and family at Nathan Phillips Square, there are so many magical and wintery holiday events and activities to enjoy in Toronto! There’s also a plethora of immersive winter wonderland experiences, glittering lights, and gorgeous Christmas décor to feast your eyes on. While there are many wonderful holiday activities to choose from, we’ve put together a list of some of our favourite festivals, events, and markets to visit over the holidays this year in Toronto.
- Northern Lights, Exhibition Place / December 1st – January 8th
Brand new this year comes an immersive experience that wraps you up in the lights, sights, sounds, and feeling of the holidays. Located at Exhibition Place, Northern Lights will showcase larger-than-life holiday décor and light installations, dynamic photo opportunities, a vendor market, festive games, and memorable selfies with Santa and the Grinch. Bring your festive spirit and explore all you love about the most wonderful time of the year. (This event is in partnership with SickKids, and a portion of every Northern Lights ticket sold will be donated to The Hospital for Sick Children.)
Image: Distillery Winter Village
- Distillery Winter Village, The Distillery District / November 18th – December 31st
Nestled amongst the historic Distillery District’ s 65+ local shops, cafés, and restaurants, you’ll find the mesmerizing Distillery Winter Village. A classic holiday must, the Distillery Winter Village features vendor cabins offering specially curated seasonal items and gifts, plus delicious food cabins. Enjoy strolling the cobblestone streets under a canopy of lights while you select the perfect gift for that special someone.
Image: The Canadian Tire Christmas Trail
- The Canadian Tire Christmas Trail, 1000 Murray Ross Parkway / November 12th – December 23rd
The Canadian Tire Christmas Trail is back to make this the Christmas of the century. If you’re looking for a socially distant holiday experience, or want to avoid the cold, this drive-along experience is the perfect way to join the holiday cheer. The Canadian Tire Christmas Trail takes guests on an enchanted 1.5-kilometre journey through thousands of twinkling lights, interactive displays, and entertainment. Guests will be immersed in the magic of Christmas and can capture their beloved annual photo with Santa in a memorable way, all from the comfort of their own vehicle.
- Cavalcade of Lights, Nathan Phillips Square / November 26th – January 7th
Experience the joy of the holiday season at Nathan Phillips Square with the much-loved Cavalcade of Lights. Inspired by international fire, lantern, and light festivals, this year’s festivities will transform Toronto’s City Hall into a dazzling wonderland each night until 10 p.m. Enjoy the dazzling Christmas tree, go skating at the city’s most iconic rink, and bask in the glow of thousands of energy-efficient bulbs.
Image: Holiday Fair in the Square
- Holiday Fair in the Square, Nathan Phillips Square / December 2nd – 23rd
Holiday Fair in the Square is returning to the heart of downtown Toronto! In support of Epilepsy Toronto, the Fair will be working with the City of Toronto’s Cavalcade of Lights to transform Nathan Phillips Square into a magical winter wonderland. Featuring an artisan marketplace with one-of-a-kind gifts, tasty fare, a polar bar with drinks to keep you warm, Santa, and a holiday midway, Holiday Fair in the Square is a holiday tradition you won’t want to miss.
- WinterFest, Canada’s Wonderland / Select Nights, Nov. 18th – Dec. 31st
Canada’s Wonderland transforms into a magical, winter wonderland for WinterFest – an immersive holiday experience for the whole family. This annual holiday event features ice-skating on Snow Flake Lake, a dozen live shows and holiday entertainment, spectacular lights, and hundreds of beautiful Christmas trees throughout the park. Explore the larger-than-life Christmas-themed areas, enjoy festive food, shop seasonal merchandise, and make special memories with your friends and family.
Image: Glow Toronto
7. Glow Toronto, Toronto Congress Centre / December 1st – December 31st
Step out from the cold and into the warmth and magic of Glow Christmas! At Canada’s premium indoor Christmas festival, you and your loved ones are invited to eat delicious food, sip on holiday-inspired drinks, shop for unique holiday gifts from local creative artisans at the market, decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus, enjoy story time with Santa’s helpers, and then visit with Santa himself – all beneath the glow of a million twinkling lights. This year’s light display theme ‘Around the World’ will take you on a magical journey through six countries.
Image: Fairmont Royal York
8. The Thirsty Elf, Fairmont Royal York / November 17th – December 17th (Thurs-Sat)
Kitschy décor, Christmas sweaters, and cheerful, festive cocktails – what more does one need to get into the Christmas spirit? Make your spirits bright this season at the Fairmont Royal York’s annual holiday-themed pop-up, The Thirsty Elf. Walk-in guests are invited for a 1-hour seating time, making this is the perfect stopping place for a festive drink with friends or colleagues. Click here for the cocktail menu.
- Christmas at the Castle, Casa Loma / Select dates, December 2nd – January 2nd
Holiday Lights, Casa Loma / Select dates, December 1st – January 8th
This year, Toronto’s only castle is hosting two spectacular holiday events you don’t want to miss: Christmas at the Castle and Holiday Lights. At Christmas at the Castle, Casa Loma guests are surrounded by holiday magic throughout the castle, which is dazzling with holiday décor, including a 40-foot tall tree in the Great Hall and eight other signature trees. Kids are invited to visit Santa in his castle workshop and participate in festive arts and crafts. A second event happening in the evenings is the enchanting Holiday Lights Tour, where you’re invited to wander through a spectacular lighting display in the gardens and castle tunnels, all decorated for the festive season. Designed as a 2-km self-guided walk, guests stroll through the property’s grounds while enjoying the remarkable decorations, outdoor lighting displays, and live performances.
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