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

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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.

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 has 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 one 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.

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 entertain visitors as they roam the market and break out into song and dance. You’ll also find carolers spreading holiday cheer, dressed in early 20th-century clothing singing Christmas favourites in 4-part harmony.

Watch the Performances on the Main Stage

More than 400 free performances can be enjoyed at the main stage including award-winning singers, brass bands, cultural dancers, and carolers. 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 that’s exclusive to the Toronto Christmas Market.

Have a Bevvie in the Light Tunnel

Back for its second year is a 100-foot light tunnel filled with one trillion lights! Inside you’ll find a bar to enjoy tasty beverages, heaters to warm up next to, 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. Your four-legged friend can also get in on the action and have their photo taken with Santa on Tuesdays.

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-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.

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 Santa’s Sleigh, the Snowmen, the Angel Wings Bench, and the 10-foot wide Ornamental Wall sponsored by Interac.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

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 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, 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.

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 15 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.