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Kensington Market

Location: Between Dundas and College, west of Spadina Ave.

Transit: Subway to Queen’s Park Station, then streecar westbound

The Kensington Market area is a maze of narrow streets and alleys, many of which are lined with brightly-coloured Victorian houses. During the 1920s, when it was a predominantly Jewish neighbourhood, families would set up stands in front of their homes and sell their goods to one another. This was the start of Toronto’s famous Kensington Market.

Today the neighbourhood and the market make up one of Toronto’s most diverse areas.

The rich multicultural mix is obvious in the shops packed with goods from Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East, South America and Asia. A visit to Kensington Market is like a sensory trip around the world. It’s also a treasure trove of vintage and second-hand clothing shops tucked in among eclectic restaurants and cafés.

On busy days, the market is every bit as lively as street markets around the world: a cacophony of sounds, piles of fruit and vegetables, exotic spices and sweet treats. People are attracted not only to the good prices but also to the market’s wide variety of unusual shops, including some of Toronto’s best vintage clothing stores.

Every December 21, Kensington celebrates the winter solstice in a colourful pageant called the Kensington Karnival. The neighbourhood stages a traditional candlelit mummers’ parade, with gigantic costumes and wonderfully atmospheric music. It takes place in late afternoon, after the sun goes down and the market is bustling with holiday shoppers.