See how Christmas lights transform Toronto for the holidays!

In December, the air is sharp and the nights are long, but there are still countless exciting things to do in Toronto this Christmas and holiday season. The city is transformed with lights and decorations, bringing magic to the streets. From Christmas markets, to pop-up bars and countless other new ways to relive old traditions, the festivities of the season bring warmth and cheer. Gather your loved ones close, and explore this beautiful city together to truly make the most of the holidays.

If you’re looking ahead to the rest of the snowy months, consider these other Amazing Things to Do in Toronto. Or, discover the New & Best Toronto Restaurants Not to Miss for gathering around the dining table this holiday season.

Toronto Christmas Markets

It’s no secret that Toronto has a love affair with Christmas Markets. They provide endless opportunities to find sweet delicacies, artisanal gifts and to soak in the spirit of the season. With so many options, it’s a Christmas enthusiast’s dream. Read on to find the one that speaks to you, and take part in one of our favourite things to do in Toronto this Christmas.

1. Holiday Hills Festival

stackt holiday hills toronto christmas market
Photo by: Stephen Uhraney/TO Times

At stackt, Toronto’s unique shipping container market, you’ll find the Holiday Hills Festival, offering brand new ways to immerse yourself in Christmas cheer. For example, they have the city’s first ever Crokicurl rink (offering a mix of crokinole and curling), an engaging way to get get out on the ice. Art installations, live music nights and workshops offer even more ways to participate in the holiday event series. Plus, on Wednesdays at Sip + Shop you can browse and unwind at the same time.

2. Evergreen’s Winter Village

chistmas skate at evergreen's  winter village toronto
Photo by: Mike Derblich/Evergreen

For a more environmentally conscious approach to the holidays, Evergreen’s Winter Village is the ultimate destination. Located in the Brickworks, a historic brick factory, here, sustainable goods meet delightful food and drink. Celebrate with a local and handmade ethos every weekend in December. Live music on Sundays sets the scene, and an outdoor skating rink turns it into an all around winter oasis.

3. Glow Gardens

little boy playing with lights at glow gardens toronto
Photo via Travelzoo

Throughout the holiday season until January 4, 2020, stroll under thousands of lights at Glow Gardens. Perfect for spending the day with kids, or planning a wholesome holiday date, the Toronto Congress Centre has been transformed into a winter wonderland. Interactive light sculptures and installations make it the perfect scene for shopping and family photo opportunities. Plus, artisans, boutiques, breweries and wineries offer goods that are sure to entice. Stay cozy all day at this indoor market so you can soak in the magic for as long as you’d like.

4. Toronto Christmas Market

christmas market distillery district toronto
Photo by Booking.com

And finally, the city’s grandest market, the Toronto Christmas Market, which takes over the historic Distillery District every winter. It seems as if almost every Torontonian makes a point to visit at least once. Taking part in the spectacle is now a favourite holiday tradition. There you’ll get to visit Santa’s House, stand in awe of the giant Christmas tree, and shop around for gifts, treats and artisanal goods. You can even take a walking tour to to find all of the best spots around the market, and dive into the history of the Distillery District itself, too. Soak it in all season from November 14 – December 22, 2019.

5. Take an artisanal food tour

Photos by: Local Food Tours

…Or give one as a gift to the foodie in your life! The Beyond Kensington Market Toronto Food Tour is the perfect chance to try some delicacies, including fine cheeses, in preparation for hosting the perfect holiday dinner. As an enthusiastic local guide takes you through two of the city’s most vibrant neighbourhoods, you’ll learn a lot about Toronto’s diverse culinary culture, making this one of the best things to do in Toronto this Christmas, and beyond the holidays.

Find more information, book tickets or buy a gift certificate here!

Christmas Themed Pop-Up Bars

These new pop-up bars are taking over the city – and for good reason! They wrap nearly a year’s worth of fun into a single month with over-the-top decor, outlandish themes, and unique drinks that are sure to surprise. Make sure you don’t miss out on the action!

6. Miracle

miracle christmas bar toronto
Photo by: Gabby Frank

Making its Toronto comeback with a new location at 146 Ossington Avenue, Miracle is notorious for its over-the-top Christmas decor. The ephemeral space is complete with fireplaces, kitschy glassware, wrapping paper wall and bartenders serving festive drinks in “ugly” holiday sweaters. Christmas is practically overflowing out of the space. In the spirit of celebrating with excess, you can catch “Slay Ride,” a glamorous holiday drag show, on December 15th.

7. Sippin’ Santa

sippin santa christmas tiki cocktail bar
Photo by: Fareen Karim/BlogTO

Sippin’ Santa is a sister bar to Miracle, and both are raising money for Nellie’s by donating a dollar from each drink purchase to the Toronto shelter. Located at Project Gigglewater, this bar also shares its sister’s love for tackiness, but with a twist. This pop-up is tiki themed, and just might be about as close as you can get to a warm beach vacation this holiday season, so drink up and soak up the rays with your (miniature) beach umbrella.

8. The Thirsty Elf

tacky-sweaters-and-cocktails at the thirsty elf
Photo by: The Fairmount Royal York

This Year, even the Fairmount Royal York has its owned Christmas themed pop-up, bringing the festivities right to the heart of downtown in addition to the West End. The Thirsty Elf delivers on all the necessities: tacky sweaters? Check. Kitschy decor? Check. Festive cocktails? You bet! What more could you wish for?

9. Aloha Christmas Bar

holiday snowman cockail at miss thing's aloha christmas bar toronto
Photo by: The Toronto Star

The Christmas cheer has spread into Parkdale, too. Miss Thing’s is a a Hawaiian restaurant and tropical cocktail bar, and its Coconut Room is home to Aloha Christmas Bar this December. Above all, exquisite and eye catching holiday creations take this cocktail event up to the next level. For example, “Little Snowflake” turns your glass into a snowglobe, while “Rudolphin” transforms a banana into festive dolphin.

Other Festive Activities

But wait, there’s more! Your celebrations can take many forms this holiday season. Above all, this is a time for being together and giving, no matter how you choose to do it.

10. The Kensington Market Winter Solstice Parade

Photo by Red Pepper Spectacle Arts

Lights, lanterns and wondrous creatures fill the streets of Toronto’s Kensington Market on the longest night of the year. The Kensington Market Winter Solstice Parade is entirely non-profit and community driven. Unlike many other corporate events, this is hand made by local artists and dedicated volunteers. The festival is entirely free, and you can purchase a lantern to donate, or simply join in to the parade of fun. Welcome back the light and warmth on December 21st with an enchanting evening of marching. After that, the night concludes in a breathtaking Fire Finale.

11. Strap on some skates

 Barbara Ann Scott Trail skating loop
Photo via Instagram

There are many places to skate outdoors in the city, making it one of the easiest active things to do in Toronto this Christmas. There’s always old favourites like Nathan Phillips Square and the Harbourfront Centre, and now also the brand new Barbara Ann Scott Skate Trail, Sir John A. McDonald Plaza on Front Street, and The Bentway. The latter is a free outdoor rink under the Gardiner Expressway that makes the most of the unique urban setting. Meanwhile, the Colonel Samuel Smith Skating Trail offers an experience that’s a bit more entwined with nature.

12. Catch a seasonal ballet or play

nutcracker ballet
Photo by: The National Ballet of Canada

The holiday season also comes with its own array of theatrical traditions. Lovers of dance and classical music surely know The Nutcracker is one such can’t-miss performance. Celebrate imagination with the National Ballet of Canada, or experience another classic tale with Soul Pepper’s A Christmas Carol. Together these performances show us the importance of charity, magic and Christmas spirit.