Holiday Time in Toronto 

For a Christmas break brimming with winter wonderland surprises and festive activities, Toronto delivers holiday moments that live long in the memory

As the Yuletide season sets in, Toronto transforms into an atmospheric and busy festive hotspot. Here are a few city attractions that will help travellers get into the holiday spirit. 

Get Your Skates On 

To get straight to the heart of the action, a visit to Nathan Phillips Square is a must. As the main hub for Christmas events in Toronto, the season kicks off in late November with the Cavalcade of Lights, an event that has been taking place annually for over 50 years.  

The evening features a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, a DJ skating party, circus arts performances, live music, and an impressive fireworks display.  

A Christmas market then joins the huge, magnificently-dressed tree, getting locals and visitors in the mood for the seasonal celebrations. The ice rink deserves a special mention, set on the frozen surface of a fountain and against the backdrop of twinkling lights and the tree. It has been considered a quintessential holiday experience for generations, attracting visitors of all ages.  

Nathan Phillips Square skating

Eat, Drink, Be Merry 

Although Toronto has numerous Christmas markets, for many the Distillery Winter Village is the most special. Every year, the slew of stalls take over the Historic Distillery District, with the cobbled, pedestrianised streets ideal for leisurely browsing while sipping mulled wine.  

A range of one-off handmade crafts and indulgent treats are available, while winter displays, music, and food vendors all enhance the festive ambience. 

Aside from the standard meat and dairy options on offer, the market has plenty of stalls that will attract vegetarians and vegans. The nearby shops and restaurants in the area stay open for the after-market crowd, making late-evening dining and shopping a possibility. 

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Throw Some Light on it 

Also located in the Distillery District is the spectacular Illuminarium, an immersive holiday experience featuring light projections set to Christmas music. Dreamy themed landscapes from Christmas villages to the northern lights at the North Pole join more whimsical displays such as ‘zooming inside Christmas decorations’. The 360 degree immersive show is great for capturing selfies, group photos or colourful Instagram content.  

Casa Christmas 

Casa Loma is Toronto’s very own castle, and at Christmas it goes all out. Alongside holiday decor, wintry mascots and a 40-foot tree, there are an additional eight unique trees created by different Canadian designers, and Santa makes a guest appearance for the kids. 

Once you’ve had your fill of the indoor displays, you can hit the Holiday Lights Tour. The self-guided walk takes in the resplendent outdoor festive lights, weaving through the gardens and tunnels. The lights can be experienced from the beginning of December through to early January.  

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One of a Kind  

As one of the largest craft shows in North America, the One of a Kind Winter Show is the ideal place to buy those stocking fillers. Over 800 artists and artisans have thousands of unique wares on display at the Enercare Centre at Exhibition Place, including original artwork, handmade crafts, eco-friendly gifts, unique clothing items, jewellery, and ceramics. 

The show’s ethos is ‘try before you buy’, with an abundance of sampling stations scattered around the show floor. Arrive with an empty stomach so there’s room for all the tasty treats: it’s easy to eat a meal’s worth of samples over the course of a visit! 

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Holiday Miracle  

Guaranteed to get even the grumpiest grinch in the mood, Miracle is a Christmas-themed pop-up cocktail bar that serves festive-themed beverages surrounded by kitschy holiday décor.   

Channelling the nostalgic energy of the ‘best office party ever’, it has become a yearly tradition since 2018, moving to a new location each Christmas.