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Best Christmas Events in Toronto: A Festive Guide 2023

Best Christmas Events in Toronto: A Festive Guide 2023


Who doesn’t love Christmas in Toronto? From browsing the Hudson Bay Christmas windows to ice skating at Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season. Now that we have moved out of the city, we love going into town even more to celebrate everything the city offers during the Christmas season.

Christmas in Toronto

There are so many Christmas events in Toronto that you can spend every weekend leading up to the holidays doing something different. We’ve booked our annual Christmas show, made our shopping list, and booked our hotel to spend a night in town for some holiday fun. From historic markets to dazzling light displays, the city is brimming with festivities that cater to all ages. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the 30 best Christmas events in Toronto.

Toronto Santa Claus Parade

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The Toronto Santa Claus Parade is one of the most popular Christmas events in Toronto, attracting families from all around the GTA and beyond. People come into the city for this annual parade that has been going for 119 years! The Santa Claus Parade is the official start of the holiday season in Toronto, and the streets are packed with revelers. The Santa Claus parade begins at Christie Pitts at Christie & Bloor at 12:30 tomorrow, November 25, 2023.

The Santa Claus Parade website claims that hundreds of thousands of people hit the streets and millions more watch at home. We’ve watched many a Santa Claus Parade in Toronto and at home, so we believe it! The parade weaves through downtown via University to Wellington and ends at the St. Lawrence Market, where you can shop for some Christmas trees!

The Distillery Winter Village (Formerly Toronto Christmas Market)

christmas events in toronto Toronto Christmas Market at The Distillery Winter Village
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I think when the Distillery first began its Toronto Christmas Market tradition, it was the first place in the city that reminded me of the Christmas Markets in Europe. During the holiday season, the Distillery Winter Village transforms the cobblestone streets of the old Distillery district into a dazzling winter wonderland of Christmas Markets and outdoor fun.

The Toronto Christmas Market is one of the most popular Christmas events in Toronto and can get very crowded, especially on Friday nights through to Sunday, so we recommend going during the week before 4 pm. Enjoy holiday spirits like mulled wine and delicious food as you enjoy the festive cheer.

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There is plenty of shopping for your holiday season gifts, and with microbreweries, restaurants, and a beautiful setting, this is one of the not-to-miss Christmas Events in Toronto. The Distillery Winter Village is more than just a market; it’s a festive destination where the spirit of Christmas in Toronto comes alive, bringing people together for the holiday season.

The giant Christmas tree at Trinity Square is adorned with thousands of lights. Live music and performances add to the lively atmosphere, making the Distillery Winter Village a Christmas Market you don’t want to miss.

The Village features an array of charming wooden cabins offering unique crafts, artisanal gifts, and delicious culinary delights, making it a perfect spot for holiday shopping and dining. And you can catch a show at the Soulpepper Theatre.

Distillery Winter Village details

When: December 16, 2023 – January 7, 2024 (Closed Christmas Day) Opening hours from 10 am Ticketed entry after 4 pm

Casa Loma’s Christmas at the Castle and Holiday Lights Tour

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Before moving out of the city, Dave and I lived a hop, skip, and jump from the beloved Casa Loma. Dave used to work regularly in Casa Loma in Toronto’s film industry and often turned that beautiful castle into a holiday scene. I even took part in a holiday show at Casa Loma as a music theatre performer back in the day. But that is another story.

Toronto’s iconic Casa Loma is a gothic-style castle built in the early 20th century by Sir Henry Pellatt. This majestic castle has long been a Toronto landmark with its towering spires and elegant gardens, and during the Christmas season, they go all out. Castle Loma’s Christmas in the Castle is an enchanting place during the holiday season. With live music, carolers, and holiday-themed shows, a night at Casa Loma will fulfill your Christmas dreams.

During the Holiday Lights Tour, the castle and its grounds are illuminated with thousands of colorful lights. One of the tour’s highlights is being greeted in the Great Hall by its giant Christmas tree. Kids can visit Santa Claus and the castle workshop to create arts and crafts. Casa Loma’s holiday spirit continues with beautifully decorated rooms and halls with eight other Christmas trees besides the 40-foot-tall tree in the Great Hall. The holiday decor, garlands, and lights reflect the grandeur of the early 20th century and provide a glimpse into the castle’s past celebrations.

Casa Loma’s Christmas at the Castle and Holiday Lights Tour Details

When: December 2nd, 2023 – January 6th, 2024 9.30 am – 5 pm (last admission at 4.30 pm)

Nathan Phillips Square Cavalcade of Lights

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When I think of Christmas in Toronto, Nathan Phillips Square will always be at the top of my mind until it opens up; the Christmas season hasn’t truly begun. Natha. Phillips Square is Toronto’s answer to the Rockefeller in New York, where the city’s official Christmas tree resides, and ice skaters enjoy the outdoor skating rink.

Throughout the holiday season, Nathan Phillips Square buzzes with many Toronto Christmas events and activities, including the famous Cavalcade of Lights, which marks the official start of the holiday season in Toronto. This year, the Nathan Phillips Square Cavalcade of Lights begins on November 25, 2023 (Tonight) and runs until January 7. Plus, it is a free event! It has live musical performances and a tree lighting ceremony kicking off the holiday events around the city.

The ice skating, the array of events, and the seasonal decorations make Nathan Phillips Square the perfect place to kick of your Christmas season in Toronto.

Nathan Phillips Square Cavalcade of Lights Details

When: November 25, 2023 – January 7 Location: Nathan Phillips Square Highlights: Cavalcade of Lights, ice skating, Christmas market

Holiday Fair in the Square

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Formerly located at Nathan Philips Square, the Holiday Fair in the Square is happening at Mel Lastman Square during the festive season. It’s fitting the Christmas events in Toronto have moved uptown. More and more people are living north of the 401.

The Holiday Fair In the Square is returning to Mel Lastman Square in North York, and every corner is filled with holiday cheer and festive surprises.

This year, the Holiday Fair is bursting with unique offerings, from artisan and food vendors presenting their one-of-a-kind creations to the spirited Polar Point Bar, set outdoors for that perfect winter touch. Treat yourself to seasonal favorites like Mulled Wine, Hot Apple Cider, and rich, creamy Hot Chocolate, perfect for those crisp winter evenings.

The whole family will love the roaming performers and a cozy fireside lounge that invites you to unwind and soak in the festive atmosphere. Plus, a visit to Santa’s Village is a must.

Holiday Fair in the Square details

When: December 1 to December 23 (closed on Mondays) Location: Mel Lastman Square Highlights: Pop up bar, Santa’s Village, Christmas market

The Christmas Tree at CF Toronto the Eaton Centre

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No Christmas in Toronto would be complete without Christmas shopping at the Eaton Centre. The CF Toronto Eaton Centre at Dundas Square is Toronto’s premier shopping destination. It is the epicenter of Toronto Holiday Events with outdoor performances and holiday decorations. But nothing compares to the massive Christmas tree at the mall’s center. After taking a year off, Canada’s tallest Christmas tree has returned. There are daily light shows from November 16th – December 31, complete with music and snow!

Walking through the Eaton Centre instantly puts you in the holiday mood with Christmas decorations and Christmas light displays. Besides the Christmas tree, there is also a giant reindeer to admire. So put on your favourite ugly Christmas sweater or Santa Hat and make your to the mall, hanging out at the Eaton Centre really is so much fun!

Holiday Magic in Bloor-Yorkville

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Speaking of Christmas Shopping, Bloor-Yorkville is the best. We used to live in Yorkville and have watched it transform throughout the years. In one of Toronto’s most prestigious neighborhoods, Yorkville does its holiday decorations right, with Christmas lights adorning the streets and transforming the area into a luminous winter paradise; Christmas in Toronto in Yorkville is Euro-chic.

Renowned for its upscale boutiques and high-end retailers, the neighborhood offers a unique holiday shopping experience enhanced by festive decorations and a cheerful holiday atmosphere. Adding to the allure, the area hosts various seasonal events and performances, making it a hub for both luxury shopping and cultural festivities. We loved taking an evening stroll during the Christmas season to enjoy the neighborhood’s holiday lights.

Location: Bloor-Yorkville. November 25th is the official opening and tree. The event is Free! Highlights: Christmas decorations, illuminated trees along Bloor Street Why Visit: A chic and elegant Christmas experience with upscale shopping.

Fairmont Royal York

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Toronto’s historic Fairmont Royal York Hotel is the Grand Dame of Toronto Hotels, and anyone can go inside for a look. Connected to the PATH, it’s easy to get to. Plus, it offers an array of pop-up events and stunning decorations, making it a must-visit holiday destination. These include festive afternoon teas, where patrons can indulge in seasonal treats and teas in a lavishly decorated setting. The pop-up events often feature unique themes, showcasing the creative spirit of the holiday season.

Upon entering the Fairmont Royal York, the lobby becomes a spectacle of holiday splendor with a towering Christmas tree, adorned with twinkling lights and elegant ornaments.

In keeping with the season of giving, the Fairmont Royal York often hosts holiday markets featuring local artisans. These markets are a great opportunity for guests to find unique gifts and support local businesses, adding charm to the hotel’s Christmas offerings.

Pop Up Bars

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Speaking of pop-up Christmas events, when the holiday season comes around, so do the holiday pop-up bars, where restaurants and bars transform their venues to holiday-themed bars. From themed Christmas drinks to beautifully decorated venues, these pop-up bars are perfect Christmas events in Toronto for adults. Enjoy festive cocktails surrounded by Christmas cheer with your best friends.

Popular pop-up bars happening in Toronto for 2023 include:

Miracle Toronto, located at 875 Bloor St. W, Little Sister‘s Java Jingle Holiday Bar – 102 Portland St. and 2031 Yonge St. The Thirsty Elf at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel Project Gigglewater Holiday bar

Candlelight Concerts in Toronto

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One of the coolest things to do in at Christmas in Toronto is to find one of the Candlelight Concerts around the city. Candlelight concerts are in 100 cities worldwide, and during the holiday season, Toronto’s Candlelight concerts take on a festive theme with various concerts, including Charlie Brown Christmas, The Nutcracker, and more. Do something unique this holiday season and check out one of these Toronto Christmas events on their website. Toronto Candlelight Christmas events.

Location: Various venues Highlights: Themed performances by classically-trained musicians Why Visit: Enjoy the warmth of candlelit concerts, offering a serene musical retreat.

Stackt Market Holiday Hills

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Stackt Market in Toronto adds a distinct flavor to the city’s Christmas holiday season, inviting visitors to experience the holidays in North America’s largest shipping container market. Get into the festive spirit from November 17 – December 31. Holiday Hills creates a magical evening for the winter season with festive food and festive cocktails. There is the Disco Mistletoe, fire pits, s’mores kits and hot chocolate, warming huts, and a 20 foot tall Christmas tree.

Stackt Market offers a contemporary twist on traditional Christmas markets like the Distillery Winter Village, making it a must-visit destination in Toronto’s Christmas season.

When: November 17 – December 31 Location: Bathurst and Front Why Visit:

Catch a Holiday Musical

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Toronto has a fantastic music theater scene, and all the holiday productions are in full swing. Several venues around Toronto have special holiday performances. Check out Roy Thompson Hall for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra playing Holiday at the Pops. The Princess of Wales Theater has holiday-themed performances. We are heading into Toronto next week to see The Illusionists. Scotia Bank Theatre has the annual performance of the Trans Siberian Orchestra playing. This year it is the Ghosts of Christmas Eve.

The Nutcracker Ballet by the National Ballet of Canada

Oh, The Nutcracker. It has been a staple of Toronto Christmas Events for as long as I can remember. My family used to go all the time and today it continues as an enchanted Christmas tradition for the next generation. It really is a wonderful show! The National Ballet of Canada has some of the finest dancers on earth and this is a wonderful introduction for kids with its non stop dancing, magical costumes and staging and festive spirit.

Location: Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts Highlights: Iconic Christmas ballet performance Why Visit: Experience a timeless holiday tradition through breathtaking dance.

Toronto Symphony Orchestra Holiday Concerts

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I used to be an usher at Roy Thompson Hall and the Christmas Season was always my favourite because the holiday concerts began. This year there are some fun concerts from Sleeping Beauty to Home Alone in Concert. The Toronto Christmas Events keep going through to the holidays with The Messiah, The Tenors, The TSO Holiday Pops, and an Andrean Christmas where the students of St. Andrew’s College present a magical evening of entertainment. Nothing says Christmas like going to a Christmas concert.

Location: Roy Thomson Hall Highlights: Festive music performances Why Visit: Enjoy classic holiday tunes performed by world-class musicians.

Lace on the Skates

christmas season in toronto Dave and Deb
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Nothing says holiday fun like ice skating and there are plenty of outdoor arenas in Toronto. Everyone knows that Nathan Phillips Square is the ice skating rink for tourists during the Christmas season in Toronto. It’s central, it’s easy, there are skate rentals, at night, there are beautiful light displays. But it can get crowded. So check out a few other fantastic places.

The Bentway

The Bentway is a 220 meter long skating that is located under the Gardiner Expressway. There is a bar to grab some hot chocolate and skate rentals are available.

Evergreen Brickworks

Located just off the DVP, the Evergreen Brickworks is a great place for the holidays, plus there is an outdoor skating rink.

Union Station

Make your way to Union Station for a Toronto Christmas skate outside. Skate in the heart of the action and it’s free! There is also a free skate rental program and plenty of places for food and drink. You can even celebrate some festive nights with its DJ skate nights.

Barbara Ann Scott Ice Trail at College Park

Located right downtown a stop at College Park not only is a must for Toronto Christmas shopping and dining, but there is a fantastic skate trail that is shaped in an oval. For non-Canadians, Barbara Ann Scott Ice Trail was a darling of Canada during the 1948 Olympics when she won gold in figure skating.

Toronto Christmas Events Outside the City

WinterFest at Canada’s Wonderland

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Photo courtesy of Destination Toronto

Did I ever tell you I worked at Canada’s Wonderland for four years? It may not be located in Toronto proper, but Canada’s Wonderland has upped the ante when it comes to finding things to do at Christmas in Toronto. During the festive season,

WinterFest at Canada’s Wonderland is a seasonal extravaganza that transforms one of Toronto’s most popular amusement parks into a breathtaking winter paradise, highlighting the city’s Christmas events. As visitors enter this magical realm, they are surrounded by millions of shimmering lights and stunning holiday displays, setting the scene for an unforgettable festive adventure. The park offers an array of attractions, including ice skating on Snowflake Lake, live holiday shows, and interactive family activities, all under the mesmerizing glow of Christmas lights.

With its uniquely themed areas, each corner of WinterFest presents a new and enchanting experience, from the charming Christmas village to the exhilarating holiday-themed rides. Visitors can also indulge in seasonal treats and warm beverages, adding to the cozy and merry ambiance.

Location: Canada’s Wonderland Highlights: Theme park transformed with lights, skating rinks, festive activities Why Visit: A unique theme park experience with a holiday twist.

Black Creek Pioneer Village Christmas by Lamplight

Black Creek Pioneer Village is located an hour outside of Toronto and is a Christmas destination that will take you back in time to 19th-century Canadian life,

Its meticulously restored buildings, costumed interpreters, and interactive workshops make it a fun place for the whole family. There are plenty of Christmas activities taking place in this winter wonderland of festive fun. From December 2 to December 23, kids can visit Santa in the Village on Saturdays and Sundays. Families can also enjoy Festive Nights at the village during the Christmas season with live entertainment, holiday treats, and professional storytelling.

Location: Black Creek Pioneer Village Highlights: Historical Christmas experience, lamplight tours Why Visit: Step back and enjoy Christmas in a 19th-century setting.

York Durham Heritage Railway

Located in Uxbridge, the York Durham Heritage Railway is a must for families. Take the kids to this annual event, where you’ll hop aboard a beautifully decorated train to the North Pole! There are conductor Elves, taking you to meet Santa Claus.

You’ll be able to pick up some last minute Christmas shopping and enjoy some hot chocolate while getting into the festive spirit.

Date: November 25th – December 21st  Location: York-Durham Heritage Railway, Uxbridge

Merry Christmas

christmas in Toronto dave and Deb
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There are so many events happening in Toronto; we could go on and on, and, hey, as we find out more, we just might! Check back to see what’s new as we continue through the holiday season. The Christmas season is just beginning!

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