What to See, Do and Eat at the Toronto Christmas Market

The Toronto Christmas Market is one of the best in the world, making it one of the most popular events of Toronto’s holiday season. Navigate it like a pro (or a local) with these handy tips from Toronto-based writer, Arienne Parzei.

Every year in November, the Distillery Historic District transforms into a holiday wonderland complete with twinkling lights overhead, the sound of carolers bouncing off the old Victorian industrial buildings and outdoor stands offering warm mulled wine. The Toronto Christmas Market, one of the largest in the world, is a magical experience.

Here are some local tips on what to see, do, and eat at the Toronto Christmas Market.

Toronto Christmas Market after dark.

Marvel at the Giant Christmas Tree

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 kilometres in length. It’s the perfect spot to grab a selfie with that special someone.

Get Festive with Santa’s Elves and Carolers

Santa’s Elves break out into song and dance as visitors roam the market. You’ll also find carolers spreading holiday cheer, dressed in early 20th-century clothing singing Christmas favourites in four-part harmony.

Watch the Performances on the Main Stage

Free performances can be enjoyed at the main stage including award-winning singers, brass bands, cultural dancers and carolers. Kids will love the daily Caroling Sing-Along, a 15 minutes Christmas carol sing-along led by the Toronto Christmas Market’s resident carolers. The elves will be handing out song sheets so everyone can join in!

Have a Bevvie in the Light Tunnel

It’s Back! A 100-foot light tunnel filled with one trillion lights! Inside you’ll find a bar to enjoy tasty beverages, heaters to warm you up and twinkly photo opportunities to fill up your Instagram feed.

Meet Santa!

Pop by Santa’s House where you can meet the man himself! Santa will be making daily appearances and you’re welcome to snap your own photos to remember the occasion.

Do Some Holiday Shopping

The Distillery Historic District is lined with European-style wooden cabins housing various vendors selling all types of locally handcrafted, one-of-a-kind gifts. From hand-carved wooden figurines to artisan Christmas ornaments, naturally-made body products to cozy, fashionable socks. 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-and-fifteen minute long tours are filled with stories of Toronto, how Gooderham and Worts became the largest distillery in the world, and how the district has transformed into the area is it today.

Toronto Christmas Market sign reading 'Naughty or Nice'.

Take Advantage of the Photo Ops

Keep the kids entertained with a ride on either the Ferris wheel or carousel while capturing the view from the top. There are also fun photo opportunities throughout including giant wooden nutcrackers, the light tunnel, the Christmas countdown, and Winter wonderland, a brand new pop-up activation sponsored by interact. This instillation allows visitors to create and take part in an animated photo of the 3D Winter Wonderland scene.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

One of the best parts 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 and classic Canadian poutine. Or opt for potato tornados (an entire potato spiralled 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, chimney cakes, Belgian-style waffle bits loaded with various toppings, or the hot chocolate from Wildly Delicious.

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, grab 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.

Other Tips

  • The best days to attend (with minimal crowds) are Tuesdays and Wednesdays
  • Dress for the weather as everything takes place outdoors
  • Many of the vendors have gone cashless this year, so only debit and Interac are accepted at these locations
  • Book a reservation in advance if you want to dine at any of the restaurants in the Distillery Historic District (ie. Mill St Brewery, El Catrin, or Cluny)
  • Paid parking lots can be found around the Distillery District, but you can avoid the traffic and take public transit

This year, the Toronto Christmas Market is running from November 14 to December 22, Tuesdays to Sundays. Admission is free from Tuesdays to Fridays and costs $8 for advance purchase and $12 day of purchase on weekends and Fridays starting at 6pm. The Market is closed on Mondays.

All on-site tickets sales are cashless and must be purchased by credit or debit card.

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.

See it. Snap it. Share it. In every neighbourhood, around every corner, through every door there's something that begs to be discovered in Toronto.


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