Christmas Events & Experiences
Only in Toronto
Toronto Christmas Market: November 16 to December 23, 2017. Inspired by the European Christkindlmarkt that originated in Germany in the 1400s, the Toronto Christmas Market is a month-long event celebrating all the sounds, sights and scents of Christmas. Set in the Victorian-era, cobblestone-lined Distillery Historic District, this annual event brings together local craftmakers, carollers, musicians and artisanal food-makers for a truly festive experience. Sip on mulled wine and European Christmas cocktails as you peruse the selection of hand-made ornaments, wood carvings and crafts. Then cozy up by the fire or take in carollers, brass bands and authentic European dancers. Free admission Tuesday to Friday and $6.00 admission Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday. Visit TorontoChristmasMarket.com for the latest information.
Christmas at Casa Loma: December 1 to January 8, 2016. North America’s only castle is a sight to behold during the festive season. Built by Sir Henry Pellatt over a three-year period from 1911-1914, Casa Loma is an homage to the Gothic castles of days gone by, complete with soaring battlements, secret passageways, five acres of gardens, a massive pipe organ and over 98 rooms.
Festive Displays & Lights
Cavalcade of Lights: For many, the holiday season doesn’t officially begin until the illumination of Toronto’s famous Christmas Tree at Nathan Phillips Square. This special event takes place every year at the Cavalcade of Lights. Also featuring performances by some of Canada’s top musical talent, a brilliant fireworks show and outdoor skating party under the glow of more than half a million lights, the Cavalcade of Lights is a must-attend holiday tradition that will warm the hearts of even the frostiest of attendees.
Toronto Waterfront: Toronto’s waterfront becomes a Spectacle of Lights starting November 2017. See the Toronto Music Garden come alive with an animated lighting installation where music notes, harps and a canopy will be shining brightly with over 39,000 LED lights, along with the other exciting displays at The Westin Hotel, the Fire Hall and the Amsterdam Bridge at Harbourfront Centre.
Tree Lighting Ceremonies: November 18, 2017 sees Illuminite kick off the festive season in Yonge Dundas Square with an evening of music, dance & spectacle with special guests the St. Michael’s Choir. For festive cheer just outside the city, check out the tree-lighting ceremonies at Mississauga’s Celebration Square and Brampton’s Gage Park – ideal for those staying near Pearson International Airport.
Window and Light Displays: For the most iconic holiday window displays in the city, take the subway to Queen station where the flagship Hudson’s Bay store and Saks Fifth Avenue each put their own twist on these must-see window displays.
When November and December roll around, the Bloor-Yorkville neighbourhood and its “Mink Mile” becomes the place to go for upscale holiday shopping. Even if you don’t have the budget to spend on Bloor-Yorkville’s price tags, it’s fun to simply window shop and admire the festive displays. While you’re in the neighbourhood, drop in to the Gardiner Museum for its fabulous 12 Trees of Christmas exhibition with trees decorated by a variety of top designers.
Christmas Flower Shows: The floral displays at the Allan Gardens Conservatory and Centennial Park Conservatory are the highlight of the year. Each conservatory is decorated and filled with thousands of flowering plants including over 30 varieties of poinsettia. On the first Sunday in December, the shows’ grand opening features horse and wagon rides, carolers, hot apple cider and a visit from Santa. For a very special experience, the conservatory can also be enjoyed by candlelight on several weekends. The shows run until mid-January.
For more on holiday displays check out My Top 5 Holiday Windows.
Live Performance & Theatrical Productions
The Nutcracker: No staged production is more authentically “Christmas” than The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky’s famous adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffman’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The National Ballet of Canada has been staging the beloved two-act ballet every year since 2005, enthralling both children and adults with humour, surprise, brilliant choreography and magnificent costumes. Not to be missed. December 9 to 30, 2017.
Reach for the Stars: Disney on Ice: Your favorite Disney characters and stories brought to life with the artistry of ice skating to create an unforgettable family experience as Disney on Ice presents Reach for the Stars. All the beauty, sparkle and fantasy that Disney is known for come together in this production. Dec 22, 2017 to January 1, 2018.
Panto-monium! For lots of laughs, check out Ross Petty Productions’ A Christmas Carol, the over-the-top family musical at the Elgin Theatre. November 24 to December 31, 2017.
Seasonal Symphonies: Keep it classy by attending one of the many seasonal symphony and choral performances in the Toronto region. Join Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra for an uplifting and profoundly moving performance of Handel’s Messiah. Experience this baroque masterpiece in the intimate and acoustically stunning Koerner Hall. December 13 to 16, 2017.
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is presenting Home Alone in Concert with the orchestra and Etobicoke School of the Arts Choir playing along with the film! Enjoy this new Christmas classic in a fresh way, at Roy Thomson Hall November 30 to December 2, 2017.
It’s the biggest Messiah in Toronto! These performances of Handel’s immortal oratorio will be given in Sir Andrew Davis’s uniquely grand-scaled edition, with a large classical orchestra, huge choral forces and esteemed vocal soloists. December 18 to 23, 2017.
For more theatrical productions check out our Theatre Guide.
Santa Claus Parades
Santa Visits Toronto & Brampton: A favourite holiday tradition for over a hundred years, there are two major Santa Claus parades to choose from in the region – Toronto and Brampton. Make memories for your kids and get set for an exciting afternoon full of marching bands, colourful floats, costumed revellers and, of course, the big guy himself.
Sunday, November 19, 2017: Toronto Santa Claus Parade makes its way from Bloor and Christie through downtown Toronto for nearly 6 kilometres of excitement and fun.
Saturday, November 18, 2017: Brampton Santa Claus Parade takes place under the stars, for extra twinkle, with a start time of 5:00 p.m.
For more family-oriented attractions and activities browse through Winterrific!