Toronto is a wonderful city to visit all year ’round — and December is no exception. The weather outside might get unpleasant, but life in Toronto isn’t slowing and there’s an abundance of things to do even in winter. The city has a magical holiday atmosphere with lots of festivities, such as the One of a Kind Christmas Show and the Toronto Christmas Market. As well as all the family-friendly holiday celebrations, there are plenty of exciting independent events like City of Craft and the Toronto Indie Arts Market Small Press & Literary Festival. Here’s our list of the top December events in Toronto.
One of a Kind Christmas Show & Sale (November 28–December 8)
Location: Direct Energy Centre Exhibition Place
Starting in December 1975, the One of a Kind Christmas Show & Sale has become a shopping tradition attracting more than 200,000 visitors annually. This anticipated shopping show displays the work of approximately 800 artisans offering unique, hand-crafted items including ceramics, jewellery, furniture, clothing, accessories, and much more. The event also features seminars on home and garden design, cooking, gift ideas, a fashion show, and figure skating performances by Glisse On Ice skaters with a special appearance by six-time Canadian Figure Skating Champion Josée Chouinard on Sunday, December 8, at 12:00 P.M.
Lowe’s Toronto Christmas Market (November 29–December 15)
Location: Distillery District
Each year, Toronto celebrates the magical spirit of a traditional Christmas at Lowe’s Toronto Christmas Market. This free street market offers traditional sights, sounds, and scents showcasing hundreds of original handcrafted products made by local artisans. The activities during these 17 days include lots of musicians, carollers, children’s choirs, storytelling, dance groups, specialty food and beer, mulled wine gardens, a children’s village, and much more. At the centre of these festivities, there will be a 45-foot-tall white spruce Christmas tree decorated with more than 18,000 lights.
Holiday Floral Workshops at the Shops at Don Mills (December 5)
Location: Shops at Don Mills (1090 Don Mills Road)
The open-air shopping centre Shops at Don Mills has invited Breakfast Television’s Frankie Flowers to lead a workshop on creating holiday outdoor containers and window boxes. The workshop starts at 6:30 P.M. and participants are asked to register at www.shopsatdonmills.ca. As well as learning some useful tricks for Christmas floral decoration, guests will enjoy free appetizers, drinks, and a welcome gift.
Etobicoke Lakeshore Christmas Parade (December 7)
Santa Claus is coming to Etobicoke and with him, the 22nd Annual Christmas parade. As many as 70,000 people gather to celebrate Christmas in this lively neighbourhood. The parade includes 10 marching bands, assorted clowns, 15 professionally built floats, and of course, Santa himself. As well as the parade, there will be Skate with Santa at the outdoor skating oval at Colonel Samuel Smith Park, with hot chocolate and music provided by a Salvation Army band. There’s available parking at many different lots in and around Lakeshore Boulevard W. The parade starts at 10:00 A.M. and continues with skating until 3:00 P.M.
Fort York Frost Fair: A Vintage Christmas Market (December 7–December 8)
Location: Fort York National Historic Site (250 Fort York Boulevard)
Frost Fair is an enchanting winter celebration that will bring you back to the early 19th century so that you can shop for historic wares, heritage baked goods, and preserves. Experience a traditional Christmas Market and feel the excitement of the festive season in Upper Canada some 200 years ago. There’s a rich array of activities for kids, plus roving musicians, cooking demos and tastings, dance performances, workshops, and musket firings. Admission is the same as for the national historic site, ranging from $1 to $9.
Fairies and Pirates in the Workshop (December 7–December 29)
Location: Casa Loma
Gingerbread House by Carrie Stephens
Fairies and Pirates is a delicious workshop for the whole family that gives you the opportunity to work with top pastry chefs and learn how to design and decorate a magical holiday gingerbread house. Kids will have their own gingerbread houses to assemble and decorate with candy, sprinkles, icing, and other sweet embellishments. Admission is $22 for children aged 13 and under, $25 for youth between 14 and 17 as well as seniors, and $35 for adults. Space is limited, so sign up as soon as possible if you want to enjoy this sweet session. For more information, call 647-725-0707.
Art Aesthetics (December 10–December 11)
Location: 1313 Queen Street West
The Barbra Schilfer Commemorative Clinic (BSCC) presents an art sale of paintings held at Gallery 1313 on December 10 and 11 at 7:00 P.M. The proceeds from the sale will go to BSCC, which is a specialized clinic for women experiencing violence. The over 50 paintings that visitors can purchase will be displayed, including anonymous as well as well-known authors. Here is a preview of the art on sale. Admission is free.
Location: Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street W)
The Toronto India Arts Small Press & Literary Festival is a celebration of Toronto’s small publishing scene, hosting more than 60 vendors with their works such as zines, comics, indie magazines, journals, chapbooks, magazines, and much more. The festival will also be the official launch of the first issue of Beer and Butter Tarts, a Canadian literary food journal. The event starts at 10:30 A.M. and ends at 4:30 P.M. Admission is $5 with partial proceeds to Parkdale Project Read.
City of Craft 2013 (December 14–December 15) and other holiday craft shows
City of Craft is entering its seventh season of stocking some of Toronto’s best hand-made unique gifts and being home to 55 screen-printers, bookbinders, and artisans from Toronto and the GTA. In addition to the curated juried craft sale, Toronto’s biggest indie craft fair offers many interesting workshops, craft-related programming in local businesses and galleries, craft installations, and more. Admission is $2.
If you want to buy unique hand-made Christmas presents but don’t have time to visit City of Craft, you don’t have to worry, as there are several other craft shows and sales in Toronto in December. Here are some of the most popular options.
- The Artisans’ Gift Fair (November 30, December 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22) — 292 Brunswick Avenue
- Toronto Young Designers Holiday 2013 (December 7) — 461 King Street W
- Bit Bazaar (December 7) — Bento Miso (862 Richmond Street W)
- Made in Canada (December 15) — Artscape Wychwood Barns (601 Christie Street)
Winterfest on Toronto’s Waterfront (December 14–15, December 21–22)
Location: Waterfront BIA
Santa and his elves will be visiting Toronto’s Waterfront twice this December, and both times, they will bring lots of fun. Families can join the Mariposa Santa Cruise boarding at 10:30 A.M. and 1:30 P.M., go skating at the Harbourfront Centre, take their pets for photos with Santa at PawsWay, watch Dog sledding or Woofjocks Canine All Stars Performance Demos, or learn new crafts in Miss Lou’s Room. You can make your reservation for the cruise at mariposacruises.com. For more information, visit http://www.waterfrontbia.com/.
The Nutcracker (December 14–January 4)
This traditional holiday classic couldn’t miss the National Ballet of Canada’s December schedule. E.T.A. Hoffman’s Christmas tale has become one of the most recognizable ballets in the world with Tchaikovsky’s timeless music. James Kudelka’s version of this classic Christmas story is very refreshing and provides a good opportunity to introduce young children to ballet. Tickets range from $25 to $409 and all ticket holders can join a reading of the classic Nutcracker story an hour before the show starts.