The Best Christmas and Holiday Events in Toronto

Toronto Christmas market in the Distillery district, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, North America
Paul Porter/Getty Images

December is full of festive events, and not everything is bringing your kids to sit on Santa's lap. The city of Toronto offers a variety of activities, from dinner in a Victorian village to a holiday market in a historic district. You can also take the kids to a parade, or to watch the zoo animals eat their Christmas treats.

Here are several festive ways to celebrate this holiday month. (If you are looking to continue the festivities into the New Year, there are plenty of fun options for New Year's Eve, from events for families, comedy shows, and other performances to choose from.)

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    November 16-December 23, 2017
    Visit the Distillery Historic District for one of the top 10 holiday markets in the world. Feel the magic of Christmas as you stroll through the shops and streets lit up with holiday cheer. There is family-friendly entertainment, lighting displays, locally handcrafted products, walking tours, and of course visits with Santa. Warm up with a cup of hot chocolate and treat yourself to something sweet. There's also plenty of savory choices as well. The heated hospitality lounges allow for visitors to enjoy traditional Glühwein (mulled wine), craft beer, or a hot toddy. Open every day but Monday. Weekdays are free; starting 5:00 p.m. Friday through Sunday tickets are required ($6); children 2 and under are free. 

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    Beginning late November

    Toronto's revitalized waterfront comes alive at night with several magical light installations. The Toronto Music Garden, Westin Hotel, the Fire Hall, and the Tall Ship on Amsterdam Bridge will all be aglow with thousands of artistically displayed LED lights. Check out the Waterfront's website for more information.

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    Saturday, December 2, 2017
    Santa visits Etobicoke —and there is a parade in his honor! A tradition since 1991, the Lakeshore Santa Claus Parade has been getting bigger and better every year. The parade begins at Dwight Avenue and heads west along Lakeshore Blvd. West. Top off the fun-filled event with a few turns on the ice rink with Santa at Samuel Smith Park.


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    Beginning December 3, 2017

    Step back in time into a Victorian Christmas at Black Creek Pioneer Village. Enjoy a traditional Christmas dinner every Sunday during December—seatings are at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. at the Half Way House Inn. On December 9 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. the village will be all aglow and dressed in its holiday best for Christmas by Lamplight. Tour the village at your leisure by the light of lanterns, candles, and warming fireplaces, visiting the homes and workshops while listening to Christmas carols and traditional folk music. You can even create seasonal ornaments and savor holiday food samples. Storytime with Santa is more than just a classic Christmas tale read by Old St. Nick—the kids will also spend the morning decorating cookies and creating crafts, followed by an afternoon of seasonal activities throughout the village. 

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
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    December 21, 2017
    Formerly known as the Kensington Market Festival of Lights, this participatory lantern parade is preceded by lantern-making workshops for those who are interested. (May be subject to weather—check event website for updated information). 

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    Wednesday, December 26th, 2017
    Visit the zoo for a morning walk to see many of the animals enjoy Christmas treats. The polar bears will be nibbling on potent polar popsicles—fish and vegetables frozen in colored water—while the Bactrian camels will feast on a veggie buffet. And don't worry—there is hot chocolate for humans! There is half-price admission all day, but please bring a non-perishable food item for the food bank. The day's proceeds will go to the zoo's Endangered Species Reserve Fund. 

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    There are plenty of Christmas craft shows in Toronto. To name a few, the City of Craft at the Theater Centre on December 9 and 10 features over 70 different organizations, artists, and individuals. Tickets are $3. Every weekend in December leading up to Christmas is the Artisan's Gift Fair at the Annex, offering unique, quality, handmade gifts. The show runs from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.