Get Into the Spirit at Lowe’s Toronto Christmas Market in the Distillery District
By Adrian Brijbassi
Holiday spirit and spirits go hand in hand during Toronto’s most extravagant Christmas celebration. In 2010, the Lowe’s Toronto Christmas Market began the annual tradition of turning the Distillery Historic District into a centre for merriment and good cheer.
For the first two weeks of December, the holiday treatment is given to the city’s beautiful, European-inspired commercial village that was home to the world’s largest whisky manufacturer during the 19th century. Carnival rides, artisan shops, musical performances, and tasty treats — including roasted marshmallows and hot cider — create a festive atmosphere centred around a spectacularly decorated 45-foot Christmas tree.
The winter wonderland has improved each year. In 2012, opera singer Measha Brueggergosman opened the Christmas market with an elegant performance amid a curtain of gently falling snow. This year, the roster of talented artists will include Royal Wood, Suzie McNeil, Neverest, and Kira Isabella. Brueggergosman kicks off the fest once again with an opening-night performance. Local carollers make appearances daily, as do Santa and his elves. On December 8, the World Caroling Challenge takes place and you can join in to help charity. The Mill Street Brewpub will donate $1 to the Daily Bread Food Bank for each participant in the challenge.
True to Toronto’s multicultural demographic, visitors will also find flavours from around the world, with a highlight being sake from the Ontario Spring Water Sake Company, which has a storefront in the Distillery. Lovers of wines made from grapes, not rice, will enjoy the elegant Tappo Wine Bar.
Beer drinkers have many choices. The event organizers have included beer gardens with heated patios that will serve brews from Weihenstephan, the German beermaker that boasts it is the oldest continuously operating brewery in the world, and other drinks, as well. The recent expansion of the Mill Street Brewpub, which has added thousands of square feet of space, is sure to be a popular spot to warm up. For a sit-down meal, Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill just may be the Distillery District’s best dining spot.
But remember it’s the Christmas Market vendors whose treats you will want to indulge in, because their presence in the Distillery is temporary. Last year, I had holiday strudels, tastings of mulled wine, and gourmet German sausages.
The Lowe’s Toronto Christmas Market runs from November 29 to December 15, 2013. The market bursts with people, so come prepared for crowds and be aware that parking in the area is limited, so consider taking one of the TTC streetcars that runs along King Street and exiting at Parliament Street. The Distillery District is a short walk south. If you do drive, there is a valet parking service that costs $20.
To find out full details about the Christmas Market, torontochristmasmarket.com.
Adrian Brijbassi is the Managing Editor of Vacay.ca and his articles are frequently syndicated by the Huffington Post and appear in the Globe & Mail. He makes regular appearances on CTV News and TSN Radio, talking about travel. A former editor at the Toronto Star and New York Newsday, Adrian has won numerous awards for his travel writing and fiction, and has visited more than 30 countries. He is also a judge for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, the creator of the Top 50 Restaurants in Canada Guide and the author of the hockey novel “50 Mission Cap.”