Winter isn’t always the easiest season to get motivated to go out and do things or experience the city, but staying home and sticking to Netflix would be a shame. There’s a whole lot going on in Toronto during the winter months to keep even the most ardent hibernator busy – despite the snow, wind, and cold. Whether you’re interested in art and design, food and drink, or music and community events, there’s something that fits the bill this winter.
If you’re looking for some motivation to make more of winter in the city, here are 13 events and activities to check out in Toronto this winter.
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Foodies, or just anyone who enjoys trying new food, rejoice. Winterlicious is back yet again for another installment of allowing city dwellers to enjoy dishes from some of Toronto’s best restaurants for a discounted rate courtesy of prix fixe lunch and dinner menus. This is a great opportunity to get outside of your culinary comfort zone and try something new, be it a new dish or a totally new cuisine. Winterlicious runs this year from January to February and there are over 200 Toronto restaurants participating.
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Art: Winter Stations
Sometimes art is better seen outside of galleries and museums and in this case, the art you’ll be seeing is outdoors. Yes, outdoors – in winter. Winter Stations is a particularly unique Toronto event that takes place across Balmy, Kew and Ashbridges Bay beaches, involving lifeguard stations being turned into fascinating art installations. The theme of this year’s event, now in its third year, is Catalyst: Converting one form or substance into another.
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Music: Winterfolk Blues & Roots Festival
Music festivals in Toronto are mostly a summer thing, but you can rely on Winterfolk to satisfy your live music fix during the winter. This year’s folk-centric music event takes place in February at various venues. The lineup will be announced on in January so stay tuned to see who will be playing. More than 150 artists will be performing at five venues on the Danforth over three days and you can expect a great lineup of urban, blues, rock, jazz, country, folk and roots music.
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The Toronto neighborhood of Bloor-Yorkville will once again play host to IceFest, a two-day community celebration centered around ice carving. The theme of this year’s festival is “Canada 150” and ice sculptures will celebrate Canada’s confederation. Sculptures will be carved from 20,000 lbs. of crystal clear ice and in addition to admiring the ice art, there will also be live ice carving demonstrations. IceFest will also feature the ‘Shop with Heart’ fundraising event at participating retailers, wherein proceeds go towards the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario.Continue to 5 of 13 below.
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Design: Toronto Design Offsite Festival
Design is about more than what a piece of furniture looks like, or how a space is laid out. The Toronto Design Offsite Festival (TO DO) is Canada’s largest cultural celebration of design and features over 100 exhibitions and events all over the city, from window displays and art installations, to interactive events aimed at broadening the idea of and creating discussion around design in its many forms. You can check out the jam-packed, exciting schedule here.
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Beer: Winter BrewFest
Good news for beer lovers: This winter you can check out Toronto Winter Brewfest, taking place in March at Heritage Court inside the Enercare Centre at Exhibition Place. The fest is brought to you by the creators of Ottawa’s popular Winter Brewfest and this is your chance to sample more than 150 beers crafted by brewers from across Ontario and Quebec and fill up on eats from Toronto's best food trucks. Some breweries on hand to sample from include Stone Hammer Brewing, Flying Monkeys, Old Tomorrow, Lost Craft, Henderson, Collective Arts and lots more.
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Music: Wavelength Music Festival
Wavelength Music Festival turns 17 this winter and the long-running music festival will be celebrating the milestone over Family Day weekend in February at The Garrison and other venues in Toronto’s west end. The lineup will be announced on in January, but you can expect a well-curated lineup of some of the best independent music coming out of Canada.
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Drink: Toronto Tea Festival
Is there a better time for a tea festival than in the middle of winter? Cozy up with a steaming cuppa while learning all about your favorite warming beverage at the Toronto Tea Festival, happening January 28 and 29 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event takes place at the Toronto Reference Library’s Appel Salon on the 2nd floor. At the festival, you can taste teas from some of Toronto’s best tea shops and vote for your favorites. Festival-goers will also have the chance to learn more about the history and culture of tea at a series of talks by experts, as well as participate in a tea-tasting workshop with a tea sommelier.Continue to 9 of 13 below.
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Art: Ice Breakers
Toronto’s waterfront area will be home to Ice Breakers this winter from January 21 to February 26. The public art exhibition will feature five unique art installations located on Queens Quay from Yonge Street to Bathurst Street. Ice Breakers comes courtesy of the Waterfront Business Improvement Area and the team behind the established winter art event, Winter Stations. You can catch the installations on display at Harbourfront Centre, HTO Park, Rees Street Parkette, Peter Street Basin, and the Music Garden East.
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Music: DJ Skate Nights at Harbourfront
What’s better than lacing up a pair of skates and going for a spin around a rink? Doing it with some body-moving music playing and a bunch of other party-loving skaters grooving alongside you. DJ Skate Nights at Harbourfront are back, taking place on Saturday nights until February. Expect various DJs from around the world playing tunes you can skate to – all for free. The event running on New Year’s Event runs until 1 a.m. and is a family-friendly way to ring in the new year.
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Art: Toronto Lightfest
There isn’t much known about Toronto Lightfest just yet, but it’s safe to assume that anything happening in the Distillery District will be well worth checking out. What we do know about this event is that it’s taking place January to March and will see the historic neighborhood turned into a huge open-air gallery, featuring works from Canadian and International light artists. Admission to the event will be free.
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Beer: Winter Craft Beer Festival
Craft beer fans take note: Winter Craft Beer Festival at Roundhouse Park is happening in February. The event exclusively features beers from Ontario craft brewers, which means you’ll get to sample a wide variety of local brews. But just note that you’ll want to bundle up because all the beer drinking happens outdoors. Some of the breweries to expect include Wellington, Black Oak Brewing, Beau’s, Side Launch, Big Rig, Left Field, Double Trouble, Oat House and many more.Continue to 13 of 13 below.
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Community: Evergreen's Winter Village
Evergreen’s Winter Village is comprised of several events and activities that encompass shopping, eating, drinking and outdoor fun. Shop locally-made, handcrafted goods at Makers Market in partnership with Etsy, eat your way through the Street Food Market featuring cuisines from around the world courtesy of some of the city’s best eateries and food vendors, shop the weekend farmers’ market, go ice skating, or take a fat bike ride through the Don Valley. Dates and times vary for each event and activity so check the website to make sure what you’re interested in is happening when you plan to visit.