With twinkling lights overhead, the sound of carolers bouncing off the old Victorian industrial buildings, the taste of warm, mulled wine, and the unmistakable smell of wood burning in the vicinity, the Distillery Historic District is transformed into a Christmas wonderland once again this year. The Toronto Christmas Market fills every nook and cranny of the Distillery Historic District and it’s a magical experience.
Today, Christmas markets are found all over the world and the Toronto Christmas Market is one of the largest in North America. Here are some local tips on what to see, do, and eat at the Toronto Christmas Market.
At the centre of all the action is the massive 50-foot white spruce tree. It’s decorated with more than 40,000 lights, 800 Christmas balls, and a gold ribbon that runs 1.5 kilometers in length. It’s the perfect spot to grab a selfie with that special someone.
New this year is a 100-foot light tunnel with one trillion lights! Expect photos of the tunnel to start filling up your Instagram feeds.
Santa’s Elves and Carolers
Santa’s Elves entertain visitors as they roam the market and break out into song and dance. Carolers spread holiday cheer, dressed in early 20th century clothing singing Christmas favourites in 4-part harmony.
More than 450 free performances can be enjoyed at the main stage this year. There are themed performances each day of the week including Traditional Tuesdays, Classical Thursdays, and Pop/Variety Saturdays. Kids will love the daily Santa’s Elves Sing-Along, an interactive stage-show featuring Santa’s Elves.
Pop by Santa’s House where you can meet the man himself! Santa is available for photos on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Your four-legged friend can also get in on the action and have their photo taken with Santa on Tuesdays.
The Distillery Historic District is lined with wooden cabins housing various vendors selling all types of one-of-a-kind gifts. From hand-carved wooden figurines to artisan Christmas ornaments and even handmade soy wax candles. If you’re looking for unique gifts, this is the place to get them!
Take a Walking Tour with Go Tours Canada
Learn about Christmas traditions and the history of the Distillery District on a special Christmas Market walking tour with Go Tours Canada. These hour-long tours are filled with stories of Toronto, how Gooderham and Worts became the largest distillery in the world, and how the distillery has transformed into the area is it today.
Fun For the Kids
Keep the kids entertained with a visit to a life-sized Gingerbread House or a ride on either the ferris wheel or carousel.
The Giving Pantry
Help those in less fortunate situations have a special and memorable Christmas by donating canned goods to the Giving Pantry. All donations go to the Daily Bread Food Bank.
One of the best aspects of any Christmas Market is the food and there’s no shortage of tasty choices here! Fuel up on artisan grilled cheese sandwiches, turkey legs, classic Canadian poutine, potato tornados (an entire potato spiraled onto a skewer and topped with your choice of seasonings), Vienna-style schnitzel sandwiches, and spicy chorizo or Oktoberfest sausages grilled on a huge circular grill perched atop a wood-burning fire pit.
For those with a sweet tooth, you won’t want to miss the maple fudge, strudels, Belgian-style waffles, or the chimney stax (hand-rolled, baked rotisserie style, and rolled in various toppings such as cinnamon, Oreo crumbs, and even Skor bits).
No Christmas Market would be complete without a beer garden to wash all that tasty food down, and the Toronto Christmas Market has a handful to choose from. Snuggle up with your loved one beside a fire pit and grab a traditional glass of Glühwein (mulled wine) and soak in your surroundings. If mulled wine isn’t your drink of choice, you can opt for a hot toddy, holiday spirits, or good ‘ol fashioned beer from Mill Street Brewery. Their Vanilla Porter or Coffee Stout are great choices on a cold winter day.
- The best days to attend (with minimal crowds) are Tuesdays and Wednesdays
- Dress for the weather as everything takes place outdoors
- If you want to dine at any of the restaurants in the Distillery Historic District (ie. Mill St Brewery, El Catrin, or Cluny) book a reservation in advance
- Paid parking lots can be found around the Distillery District, but avoid the crowds and take public transit
This year, the Toronto Christmas Market is running from November 16 to December 23, Tuesdays to Sundays. Admission is free from Tuesdays to Fridays, and costs $6 on weekends and Fridays starting at 5pm.
About the Author
Arienne Parzei is a travel writer, videographer and photographer from Toronto, Canada who loves learning about different cultures first hand. In 2009, she moved to South Korea and taught English for two years and followed that up with an eight-month backpacking trip through China, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. She shares her travel experiences, advice and tips on her website, SeeYouSoon.ca, inspiring others to get out and explore our incredible planet.