Add some sparkle to your holiday shopping and get into the festive mood at these markets.
By Arienne Parzei
The holiday season is one of my favourite times of year in Toronto. The decorations, the twinkly lights and the festive food and drinks bring about a magical feeling. While the season is looking a little bit different this year, many of my favourite holiday markets are still making it possible to get into the holiday spirit—even if it means ordering online, picking up curbside and recreating those market experiences at home. Below are some of my favourite spots that are bringing about all the holiday feels.
The Distillery District’s Christmas Market has long been a favourite holiday market of mine. With the canopy of lights, 44-foot high Christmas tree and the cabin-lined streets, it’s the closest you’ll get to a European Christmas Market right here in the city. It’s so popular, however, that the organizers made the hard decision to cancel the Christmas Market this year due to the large crowds it attracts year after year.
In its place, they’ve launched the Distillery Winter Village. The twinkly lights and large balsam fir, decorated tree remain, as do the 40+ independent businesses you’ll find year-round. Shops and galleries are offering online ordering and curbside pickup, and the restaurants and café are open for takeout and delivery.
To make your holiday shopping even easier, the Distillery District has put together a holiday shopping guide so you can find that perfect gift for someone special, all while supporting small local businesses. Visitors can freely wander and enjoy the beautifully decorated area, just be aware that masks are now mandatory throughout the Distillery District.
When Stackt Market first opened in the spring of 2019, I fell in love with the concept right away—take unused land, repurpose old shipping containers as storefronts and create a space for small, independent and startup companies to launch their businesses. They had big plans for this holiday season, but alas those plans had to be scaled back and changed.
You can still shop from the 20+ local vendors offering everything from home decor to over-the-top cookies by ordering online for delivery or curbside pickup. You can also bring a taste of the holiday cheer home with you by ordering a cocktail kit online from Miracle Pop-Up Bar and have it delivered right to your door.
Every weekend in December, a small-business holiday market will be taking place outdoors, as well as a click-and-collect tree program for those looking for a condo-friendly Christmas tree. It’s pay-what-you-can (with a suggested donation of $30) and all proceeds go to The Stop Community Food Market.
For those looking for an outdoor activity to do with their household, try your hand at crokicurl—a cross between crokinole and curling. 2 to 8 players from the same household can enjoy 50-minute playing time, a dedicated host to explain the rules and keep score, access to the Belgian Moon Warming Huts, and food and drink for takeout after the game.
For a more nature-oriented holiday market experience, I like to visit the Evergreen Brick Works’ Winter Village. Sadly, it too has been cancelled for this year, but there are still a number of things available to make a half-day visit worthwhile.
Pick up a Christmas Tree at the Evergreen Garden Market, purchase locally-made items like candles, pottery, handmade soaps, toys and teas, and order takeout from Café Belong. For the holidays, the store hours are extended: Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. While you’re there, spend a little bit of time in nature and explore the extensive trails within the Don Valley Brick Works Park. Just remember to dress for the weather!
For those unique, specialty gifts, I always hit up the One of a Kind Winter Show. This year they’ve gone virtual, giving the 700+ vendors their own online booths to showcase and sell their products. These are Canadian-made, one-of-a-kind crafts and goods that you can’t find at your average retail store. You’re bound to find something for everyone on your list as the variety of products is extensive, ranging from textiles to ceramics, personal care to baby & kids, and even music and photography.
In addition to the online vendor booths, you can also enjoy weekly events including DIY workshops, behind-the-scenes studio tours from makers across Canada and curated gift guides to inspire your holiday shopping. The usual 11-day event is now spanning 8 weeks, running until Dec 20th. Perfect for those last-minute shoppers!
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.
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.#OPENYOURCURIOSITY
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