At this time of year, you’re likely feverishly shopping for gifts for all the people on your holiday list. But you might also want to spend any free time you have left actually enjoying the spirit and magic of the holidays.
Luckily for you, there’s no shortage of things to see and do this holiday season in Toronto that will please the senses and get you into the mood. Fill up your schedule with any one of the following holiday-inspired events taking place all around the city.
The holiday season is all about twinkling lights, and perhaps there’s no better place in the city to enjoy it than at Nathan Phillips Square, where a wondrous display of holiday lights are on display throughout the festive season. This display is truly one of a kind and will be sure to give you all the feels that only the holidays can bring. Catch this year’s show on November 30 from 7pm to 10:30pm. And even if you miss the kick-off event, the lights will be lit every night long after.
Take a walk back in time and experience what the holidays would have been like yesteryear. At Black Creek Pioneer Village, you can experience the joy of Christmas past at Christmas by Lamplight, an open-air heritage museum that’s all decked out with 19th-century homes. The museum features fun workshops, authentic fireplaces and lanterns, traditional folk music, choirs and caroling, traditional crafts, and story time with Santa. If you’re in the mood for a meal, pull up a chair and enjoy a traditional Sunday Christmas lunch. The event takes place from December 7 to 21.
This list simply wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the historic and wildly popular Toronto Christmas Market at the Distillery Historic District. Starting November 14 through to December 22, the event features crafts, artisanal foods, drinks, bonfires, caroling, and of course, the spectacular Christmas tree that anchors the event. Take in all the sights, sounds, and delightful smells that Christmas has to offer, all along the characteristic cobblestone pathways that make you feel like you’re not in Toronto at all.
Take advantage of the cocktails and treats while indulging your auditory senses in the sweet sounds of 19th-century Christmas tunes at Carols in the Tavern at Montgomery Inn. Tempt your palate with historic and traditional holiday beverages like mulled apple cider. The event takes place in the historic Etobicoke building on December 14 from 7:30pm to 10pm, with a $20 (plus tax) cover charge.
Imagine a castle in the city all decked out in Christmas decor. That’s precisely what you’ll get at this year’s Nutcracker Christmas, taking place at none other than the historic Casa Loma from December 1 to January 5. This infamous home may have just finished hosting its gothic Halloween festivities, but it will quickly transform into a Christmas wonderland with amazing performances, festive arts and crafts, classic holiday characters, visits with Santa in his workshop, and the most incredible holiday décor you’ll see, including a 40-foot tall Christmas tree in the Great Hall. Ongoing holiday magic of Casa Loma can be marveled at throughout the evenings with spectacular lights from December 15 to 30.
There’s ice skating, and then there’s skating to the beat of your favorite pumping tunes along the gorgeous Harbourfront in downtown Toronto. This year, get ready to lace up your skates and enjoy a few songs while practicing your double axels at DJ Skate Nights at the Natrel Rink at Harbourfront Centre every Saturday from December 14 to February 15. Skates and helmets are available for rent, and there’s also the rink-side Boxcar Social restaurant for you to recharge at after all that activity.
If there was ever a specific performance that symbolized the holiday season, it’s certainly The Nutcracker. Performed by the amazing dancers with the National Ballet of Canada for over 50 years, this ballet is the epitome of the holiday season and depicts fairy tale characters that drift to the lands of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Snow Queen amidst the most magical sounds of the music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Performances run December 12 to January 4.